Dr. Nancy Currie-Gregg Observatory at Enid High School

DESERVING OF SUPPORT

EHS facility undergoing renovations, could be designated historic site

From the Enid Morning News Editorial Staff

Feb 8, 2017

We like what’s going on with the observatory atop Enid High School.

For one, the Dr. Nancy Currie-Gregg Observatory at Enid High School is undergoing some needed work, thanks to the efforts of Tim Gregg, an Enid native, Enid High School graduate and former EHS astronomy student, and his wife, Dr. Nancy Currie-Gregg, an astronaut who flew on the space shuttle four times.

Right now, installation of a new safety railing along the observatory’s viewing deck is under way. A new telescope also is in the offing. It would replace the one purchased and installed in 1965.

On another front, Gregg contacted Oklahoma Historical Society, and steps are being taken to possibly designate the observatory a historic site.

Lynda Ozan, architectural historian for Oklahoma Historical Society, recently visited the observatory. Gregg had told her about the structure’s history. It was built with funds from National Defense Education Act, partly as the U.S. government’s response to the launch of Sputnik I by the Soviet Union in October 1958, Gregg said.

According to Enid Public School records, the observatory was the brainchild of Jim Smeltzer, a science teacher at Enid High School in the early 1960s. He applied for the NDEA grant, and the district received $16,000.

An interesting side note: Even after all these years, it remains the only high school observatory in Oklahoma.

“Once I realized the observatory’s link to the Cold War and space race,” Gregg said, “I reached out to Lynda’s (Ozan’s) office. She is particularly intrigued by the dome’s history and how today’s geopolitical climate echoes back to a time when the world’s two superpowers were in conflict and competition for scientific supremacy.”

That’s not all the news about the observatory. People soon will be able to become Friends of the Observatory, and the group will support efforts to ensure the observatory continues as a service to students for years to come.

We urge people to get behind this effort.

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