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FGCU Dedicates New Observatory; Public Invited to First Viewing Saturday

FORT MYERS, FL - Florida Gulf Coast University is hosting its first free viewing event if weather permits from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14 at the new Evelyn L. Egan Astronomical Observatory dedicated earlier this week with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“Tonight we celebrate yet another milestone in the development of this great institution,” President William C. Merwin said Tuesday.

“The milestone we celebrate today began because of the friendship and generosity of one woman, Evelyn L. Egan - one of my favorite angels. Tonight her leadership will open the heavens for FGCU students and the greater community. Thank you, Evelyn and thank you, David.”

Egan’s undisclosed monetary gift, which spurred construction of the edifice, came after a suggestion from David McQuade, a member of the Southwest Florida Astronomical Society. He thought FGCU would be an ideal location to the region for a worthy observatory. The building features a 16-inch Ritchey-Chrétien reflecting telescope, which is the same optical design as the Hubble Space Telescope.

At the groundbreaking in 2000, Egan remarked, “This University will have everything it needs if people will help.”

President of the FGCU Foundation Fred Pezeshkan said that the gift was matched by the State of Florida to produce an academic building that will not only be used by FGCU students but also by the local Southwest Florida Astronomical Society and the community.

After the dedication, a steady stream of FGCU students personally thanked Egan with cards and flowers for her generosity, including representatives from the Student Government Association.

In gratitude from FGCU, Merwin presented Egan with her own “star.”

“For generations to come,” Merwin said, “our students and the community will use the Evelyn L. Egan Astronomical Observatory to explore the universe and open our world to astronomical wonders. Evelyn, we wanted to commemorate this important occasion with a gift as unique and long lasting as yours. On behalf of Florida Gulf Coast University, I present you with your own star. In the constellation Monoceros, the star previously known as Monoceros RA 7h 42m 1.22 D-4 55’, has been renamed by the International Star Registry and will forever be known as the Evelyn L. Egan.”

Egan is originally from Indianapolis and resides in Fort Myers. Her brother Louis Larson and niece Chris, accompanied Egan to the dedication.

For more information about the dedication or donor, contact Judie Cassidy at (941) 590-1058.

For more information about the viewing, contact assistant professor of physics and astronomy, Michael Fauerbach, at (941) 590-7219.

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