The Observatory was founded by Robert Taylor who was a former Lake County educator and assistant superintendent. According to the Lake County Office of Education webpage, Robert Taylor moved to Lake County from Kingsburg, Ca.
The project to build Lake County’s amazing observatory was built on the property on which the Kelseyville Elementary School was located. Taylor learned how to obtain the funding for the construction of the observatory in the 1970’s. It was in 1985 the fabulous planetarium was added.
When Robert Taylor moved out of Lake County the planetarium was very fortunate to retain the services of Mr. Taylor’s assistant, Evelyn Norton. During her time there she taught astronomy and ran the show there at the observatory until she retired in 2004.
Evelyn Norton was a 4th grade teacher for 24 years. She enriched the lives of the students in her classroom with trips to the observatory, where they learned about our universe via the facility’s 36 seat classroom, that the planetarium offered amazing shows and the fabulous 16 inch telescope which was under an opening dome in the ceiling. Also during some of that time she presented programs for the public on Nasa’s various space flights when she was Nasa and JPL’S “Solar System Ambassador”.
Taylor’s Observatory’s Planetarium took on her name “Norton Planetarium” when she died in 2005 as a way of honoring all of her years of service to the community. A Digitarium Epsilon projector is used to project celestial images on the 6.2 meter (20 ft.) domed ceiling which provides a rich immersive multi-media experience. The projector is programmable, and several of the planetarium presentations were prerecorded by one of our past Observatory Assistants, John Zimmerman.
The picture on the left is the the original 8″ telescope that Tom Schleif built using the mirrors of an old 8 inch reflector that Bill Haddon found in the Taylor storage shed.
The 16” research-grade telescope pictured here on the right is the centerpiece of the observatory’s operation. It is computer controlled and capable of locating over 144,000 celestial objects. The 10’6″ dome is an Ash Manufactured Dome.
Currently Elisa Prather is the new coordinator for Taylor Observatory. Elisa is a local science teacher, teaching 7th grade who was Lake County teacher of the year in 2014 and teacher of the year at Terrace Middle School.
The Taylor Observatory and Norton Planetarium is located at 5725 Oak Hills Lane, Kelseyville, Ca. 95451. Phone: 707-262-4121