Etscorn Observatory

 


The Etscorn Campus Observatory is the home of the New Mexico Tech Astronomy club.  It is used for education and outreach, teaching and reserach.

History

The Etscorn Campus Observatory came into being as the result of the desire of the NMT Astronomy Club to have their own observatory on campus. It happened when Dr. Frank T. Etscorn, the astronomy club faculty advisor, made a  significant financial donation that allowed the  club to build the roll-off roof building designed by Jon Spargo. They installed a Celestron C-14 that had been located on the roof of Weir Hall on campus, a most unstable platform. The facility was dedicated in 1993. The facility grew with the addition of a amateur built 6-inch schiefspeigler  telescope housed in a clam shell dome (date). Then came the 20-inch telescope and dome donated by Ken Mason (date).   This facility is built behind an earthen berm that is high enough to keep out most of the city lights.

In 2003 Etscorn tripled the area inside the berm and obtained a large 16-foot diameter dome from the White Sands Missile  Range. A very sturdy pier that would take upto a 30-inch telescope was installed. The dome sat on the ground with a small 3-foot hatch that made entering and exiting most exciting. A 6-inch Takahashi refractor owned and operated by the Summer Science Program was installed.  The Summer Science program operates the telescopes 6 weeks each summer. NMT uses the telescope the rest of the year.  In 2005 with funds from the no child left-behind act we constructed a control facility for the 16-foot dome. This facility contains a control center, student work space, storage space and a resource room.

Looking North


From left to right; Portable trailer used for taking telescopes to star parties off campus; 20-inch dome; roll-off roof (original Etscorn building); shiefspeigler dome. The small concrete pads are for portable telescopes during star parties.

Looking South


“The large dome houses the 14-inch Celestron telescope with an SBIG ST10 CCD system and focal reducer. The building behind the dome houses the control center for the telescope and a resource room that is use for presentations and demonstrations.”

Facilities

View our facilities

Research efforts

Our research efforts currently focus on Asteroid Light curves.