SW College "Science Shack" PDF Print E-mail
Written by Nathaniel Whitehead   


Roland Fields and Don Wells standing inside
the SW College Science Shack.
Credit:Don Wells

Sitting most unassumingly behind the Scarcella building of the Stafford campus of the HCC South West College is a small, rectangular building that houses far more than meets the unknowing eye. The “science shack”, as it is being called, is being filled with an impressive array of astronomy and science equipment for everything from astronomical observations and photography to seismic sensor data and meteor recording. With the persistent conviction of Mr. Don Wells, production manager of Stafford METV and Mr. Roland Fields, the Supervisor of Technicians at HCC SW, the college has launched forward in pursuit of better science equipment all around. With the addition of several top of the line microscopes, 3D scanners and printers, and a plethora of astronomical tools and telescopes, the road to improving the ability of teachers to effectively use advanced equipment in and out of the classroom is being paved with opportunity.

           The “science shack” currently houses a 14-inch Celestron schmidt-cassegrain on a highly accurate Paramount locater robotic mount and an SBIG research series camera for imaging with the scope, further increasing the ability of students and professors at HCC. Along with the impressive robotic telescope set up the shack is also home to a Boltwood cloud sensor that will give a
Celestron 14" Robotic Telescope.
Credit:Don Wells
reading of the weather conditions including humidity, wind speed and direction, this weather station will aid in the use of remote access to the telescope, keeping whomever is linked to it informed of the current weather conditions at the building. In addition to all this will be seismic sensors that will give highly accurate readings, a meteorite camera that works in the near infrared portion of the spectrum to observe and record in coming meteorites, and they hope to add to the telescope in coming months a remote control micro focuser that will compensate for expansion/contraction due to temperature in the telescope itself, along with adaptive optics that will help the telescope peer all the better into the wonders of the night sky. Of course not all the equipment is housed in the “science shack”; there are a great many other telescopes that the SW college has gathered an array of other telescopes including a Takahashi TAO150 on a mobile mount, several solar telescopes, 3 Celestron 11 inch telescopes, eight 8inch Meade Light Bridges and many more. SW college is home to the only student astronomy group in the HCC system, The Star Squad, which is promoting the value and excitement of astronomy in our time, and will be holding regular meetings this coming fall. Star parties are events held, usually for amateur astronomers, to observe and gather with others of like mind. They are held regularly at the Alief and Stafford campuses of the college and offer to anyone the chance to see some astounding equipment and get a peek into the mysteries of the heavens, if that is the weather holds. The college also hosts monthly meetings of the Fort Bend Astronomy Club
 Telescope with solar filter outside the science shack. Credit: Don Wells
in the Scarcella building of the Stafford campus on the third Friday of every month. The meetings are open to all who want to attend and give a friendly forum to anyone interested in astronomy. With the invested interest of such enthusiastic and driven individuals like Mr. Wells and Mr. Fields there would seem no end to the advantages offered by the set up at the SW college. Endeavoring only to expand the horizons of students and teachers by imparting to them some of the excitement of the starry sphere above, these gentlemen have and will continue to increase the science ability not only of the SW college but the entire Houston Community College System.



HCC South West College Star Party Dates:Monday, July 7th at Stafford
Monday, July 21st at Hayes
Monday, August 4th at Stafford
Monday, August 18th at Hayes
Monday, September 8th at Stafford
Monday, September 22nd at Hayes