Asteroid Dedication Ceremony Honors “Big Mike” Schottland
Tuesday February 16, 2016
On March 4, Piedmont Arts will celebrate a little known part of its history with an event entitled “Under the Stars.” Many in the community may not know that the grounds where the museum is now located at 215 Starling Avenue in Martinsville was once home to the largest privately-owned telescope in the country. Michael Schottland, known as “Big Mike,” the original owner of the house on Starling, was an avid amateur astronomer and had an observatory on the property.
Piedmont Arts, along with family and friends of Schottland, will celebrate his legacy with an asteroid dedication ceremony. Schottland’s nephew, Rob Schottland, of Sedona, AZ, spent time tracking down Big Mike’s telescope after it was donated to Perkins Observatory in Ohio. “Big Mike bought the telescope in 1940,” said Rob. “It was a major instrument and was housed in an observatory on the property.” He found that it was first donated to the Perkins Observatory of Ohio Wesleyan University and was then given to Lowell Observatory in Arizona. According to Rob Schottland, the telescope was refurbished and became an “asteroid hunter.”
At “Under the Stars,” friends and family will commemorate the designation by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center of an asteroid which was discovered with Big Mike’s telescope. The official name of the asteroid is 25940 Mikeschottland (2001 ET5). In addition to Rob Schottland, attendees will hear from Martinsville native Ron Crouch who, at an early age, was influenced by visits to the Schottland family and their observatory. According to Crouch, who is the son of Mary Ann and Johnny Crouch of Martinsville, having access to the telescope as a child “lit up a love for fine optics which survives to this day.” Today, Crouch is a Magnetic Resonance Applications consultant for Japan Opto Electronics Limited and continues to pursue his passion of imaging the cosmos with his own telescopes at his home in Loveland, CO.
“It is exciting to be able to celebrate the history of the family who resided here at 215 Starling Avenue,” said Executive Director Kathy Rogers. “The Schottland family has been so good to us over the years and we look forward to honoring Mike Schottland’s legacy.”
“Under the Stars” will also serve as a fundraiser for Piedmont Arts’ Kathryn Ascough Smith Arts in Education Fund, which was started by Mike Schottland’s granddaughter, Julie Work, as a way to honor her sister, Kay. Kay Smith was an avid supporter of Piedmont Arts and was instrumental in the museum’s successful expansion in the late 1990s.
“Under the Stars”will take place on Friday, March 4 from 6:30 – 8:30 pm at Piedmont Arts. Tickets are $50 and may be purchased at the museum, by calling 276.632.3221 or online at PiedmontArts.org. All proceeds from the event will go to Piedmont Arts’ Kathryn Ascough Smith Arts Education Fund.