Astronomy students observe heavenly views with high-tech telescope

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PECULIAR, Mo. -- Science fiction fans aren't alone in their interest in 'The Final Frontier.' One group of astronomy students is exploring the stars, too. Raymore-Peculiar High School received a donated high-tech telescope.

Now, science classes at Ray-Pec High will never be the same again. A society of space exploration enthusiasts has donated the telescope that stands nearly 12-feet tall to the high school.

It's giving students a rare opportunity to see the cosmos as if the heavens sit in their own backyard.

Darrick Gray has spent 14 years teaching in Peculiar, Mo. The new 25-inch Dobsonian Telescope has been a game-changer for his students.

“We looked at Jupiter, and there was no issue whatsoever looking at the bands. I point the telescope at it, and ‘Bam!’ There's the bands,” Gray said.

Ray-Pec received the telescope after it was donated by the Star Garden. It’s a non-profit astronomical society based in Warrensburg, Mo. The telescope's 25-inch mirror produces amazing images of heavenly bodies. Even the sight of the Orion Nebula, which is over 1,300 light years from Earth, came in crystal clear.

“To my knowledge, it's the biggest scope in the area outside of the Powell Observatory. They're the only one that I factually know is bigger than this one,” Gray said.

The telescope is giving students a rare opportunity to step out of the classroom and apply the science they've learned.

“It’s just crazy. You can see it in a book, and see all the different colors and stuff they do through Photoshop. You can actually see it through the telescope. It's intense,” student Kat Pismenny said.

“You see the beauty when you look at the stars and you see all of the colors and all of the patterns of everything that's out there. It just makes you feel small. You look at it and it's glorious,” student Brianna Grey said.

The telescope is a mobile instrument and a small trailer is used to transport it from site to site. Gray said he believes his astronomy class is the only one of its kind in the Kansas City area.

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