Little Egg Harbor Resident and Astrophile Recalls Backyard Cape Canaveral

February 1, 2023

LITTLE EGG HARBOR, NJ—Little Egg Harbor resident Dr. Robert “Doc” Wighton has been an astrophile since he was 19 years old. Wighton’s interest in the final frontier began during the early days of space exploration and sparked the opportunity to correspond with NASA rocket scientists.

When he caught the space bug, Wighton and his brother built a replica of Mercury Friendship 7—the famed space capsule in which John Glenn Jr. became the first American to orbit Earth—at his childhood home in Parsippany, NJ. Over eight feet tall and complete with a control panel equipped with electronics to signal problems, the replica allowed him to perform a variety of scientific experiments. He said he had created his own personal Cape Canaveral in his backyard!

Wighton’s project garnered plenty of media attention. It was featured in articles published by the New York Times and Newark Evening News in 1962, the same year astronaut Scott Carpenter became the second American to orbit Earth aboard Aurora 7. These days, Wighton—who lives at The Terraces at Seacrest Village, an assisted living community—loves to share his interesting life experiences with fellow residents and staff, and everyone loves to hear his stories.

Incidentally, Wighton completed his Ph.D. at Thomas Jefferson University in less than three years. His Ph.D. thesis, which currently resides in the Library of Congress due to its national significance, is titled “Non-Acoustic Correlates of Human Phonation.” In more common terms, Wighton performed research on how a stroke can impact a person’s speech pattern.

At The Terraces at Seacrest Village, residents enjoy a fulfilling lifestyle with everything they need on campus. With beautifully appointed apartments, gourmet dining, on-site rehab care and an engaging mix of programming and activities, residents have access to the services they need, when they need them.

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