Pinwheel Galaxy Solar Collector Powers Astronomy Center

Beginning Earth Day, The Leif Everson Observatory and Ray and Ruthie Stonecipher Astronomy Center will be harvesting renewable energy from outer space at Crossroads at Big Creek. The technology is more than 50 years old, but the solar collector scheduled for installation during Earth Week is uniquely designed and locally produced.

The 21-foot diameter collector is the newest member of the Solar Flair family and was designed with the Crossroads Astronomy Campus in mind. The artistic installation is modeled after the Pinwheel Galaxy, otherwise known to astronomers as M101. Solar Flair 2288 will produce about 1/3 of the energy required by a typical household and will reduce the energy bill for the observatory and astronomy center. The excess power will go directly into the Sturgeon Bay Utility electrical grid.

Ray Stonecipher, Coggin Heeringa and John Hippensteel of Lake Michigan Wind & Sun, Ltd. – the Solar Flair designer and manufacturer – have been discussing a project of this nature for years, and now the timing is right. Local residents, companies and organizations will donate material and labor.

Currently, Solar Flair projects are producing electricity throughout the United States, but this will be the first of its size and kind.

Pinwheel Galaxy

Learners of all ages visit the Astronomy Campus at Crossroads to learn about the wonders of our universe and soon programs will be powered by the clean, renewable energy of our nearest star.

For more information, call 920.746.5895 or visit