The new roof utlizes a welded steel frame and welded steel tracks that provide positive retention for the roof. A unique feature is the inclusion of scissor trusses over the telescope level, allowing much easier access for working while the roof is closed. During the initial stages of designing the building, it was decided that the roof would be motorized, and CAS members raised over $1200 in 2000 to purchase the components for this. These were installed in 2007. The roof uses a bidirectional winch with a one horsepower three phase 220VAC motor controller by an AC frequency drive. Failsafes are built into the roof system to prevent operation when there is potential for hitting the telescope. The roof operates very safely and smoothly from an operator station located at the bottom of the telescope level stairwell.
The basement area of the observatory was finished out in December 2009, and the CAS' first winter public event held there in January 2010. A facility for astrophotography training, the Mildred Hunter Astrophotography Lab was completed in May 2011..
During the course of his fund raising activities, Dr. Cornwell got Purdue Calumet University involved with the site and its Astronomy department was able to obtain a National Science Foundation Grant to build the Northern Indiana Robotic Observatory on the same site as Conway. This 40 aces site is now officially a joint venture of the Lake County Parks, Calumet Astronomical Society, and Purdue Calumet University and has been named The Calumet Astronomy Center. The NIRO Observatory was officially dedicated in September 2010 and is now operational.
Public programs are held monthly at Conway Observatory - for schedule, see www.casonline.org. A Youth Astronomy Camp is also held in July. Registration information can be obtained at the Lake County Parks website.
Plan for the future include upgrading the current main telescope and building on site an alternative energy technology demonstrator that will provide power for Conway Observatory using solar and wind technologies. There is a lot of room on this site for other educational institutions and other amateur astronomy organizations to locate additional observatories here. CONTINUED....