Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Science/Environment

February 15, 2010

Cold Spring man has eye on the sky

COLD SPRING, Ky. — Fred Calvert doesn't have to go far for a view that's out of this world.

Walk out a back door, down a flight of stairs and across the back yard to a building with a dome on top of it. With his wife's blessing, the amateur astronomer designed and built an observatory behind the two-story house where the couple and their two dogs live.

"Spent about three years building it and getting money out of my wife to do it. Don't tell her that," Calvert said with a big laugh. "But, no, she's been supportive of it. I guess I could be out at the bars every night, but she knows where I'm at back here."

A one-time professional photographer and aircraft mechanic, Calvert works at Lunken Airport as director of safety for Executive Jet Management. He's been interested in astronomy since he was 9 years old when he picked up a book on the subject.

"Started reading it, started comparing the little star charts with the stars out in front of my house," Calvert said. "When I got in high school, my parents had died and I lived with my cousins, and they had a little spotting scope. I was out in our backyard there and pointed it at the moon and you could see everything. Between those two things, they were the things that kind of got me."

Calvert, now 54, said he didn't get seriously interested until about 15 years ago when he bought a small, eight-inch telescope. A move from Fort Thomas to a Cold Spring subdivision about eight years ago offered Calvert enough space, and darkness, to take his hobby to another level.

To build a backyard observatory, Calvert said he had to obtain the necessary permits before starting construction in March 2003. The observatory cost about $8,000 to build and is divided into two rooms.

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