Telescope atop Dewey home is a result of owner’s dream to peer into outer space

By Lynn R. Parks  |  Photograph by Kevin Fleming
From the September 2015 issue

deweytelescope Where Things Are Looking Up - Delaware Beach LifeJoseph Corbi was in his 90s when he suddenly took an interest in astronomy.

“There is a lot going on in outer space,” he told his son, Curt, one day about 13 years ago. “I think that we need to keep an eye on it.”

“OK, Dad,” Curt recalls replying. “How are you going to do that?”

“I think that I’m going to buy a telescope.”

Curt, who was living with his dad at the time in the family’s Dewey Beach home that overlooks Rehoboth Bay, thought nothing more about their conversation. 

“And then one day, about three months later, this big truck pulled up in the driveway,” Curt says. The driver unloaded a 14-inch (the diameter of the lens) reflecting telescope, made in California by Meade Instruments and weighing, Curt guesses, several hundred pounds. 

“I had no idea that he had ordered it,” he says. “It was huge! It sat in the box for six months while we thought about what to do with it.”

Finally, the family decided to fulfill Joe’s vision and install the telescope on their home’s roof. First, Curt consulted with a structural engineer, who came up with a plan to make sure that the building could support the weight of the telescope and the deck it would require. Workers constructed a wooden reinforcement structure in the attic; with that, the engineer gave the OK to proceed.

Curt then had the deck built atop the house and an exterior curved metal stairway put in for access. Next, the telescope was put in place and a fiberglass dome, ordered separately from a company in Australia, was fitted to protect it from the weather. 

It took three men to carry the telescope to the roof. For the dome, which weighs an estimated 500 pounds, the workers constructed a long temporary ramp that went from the backyard up to the deck. They slowly pushed the dome, which was in pieces and packed in a wheeled case, past the first floor, past the second floor and onto the roof.

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