Etscorn Campus Observatory


The Sign to the Etscorn observatory. #MRO/mro

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


The Etscorn Campus Observatory (ECO) came into being as the result of the desire of the NMT Astronomy Club to have their own observatory on campus. 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 Etscorn Campus Observatory was dedicated in 1993. The facility grew with the addition of an amateur-built 6-inch schiefspeigler telescope housed in a clam shell dome, and later with a 20-inch Dobsonian telescope and dome donated by Ken Mason. ECO is built behind an earthen berm that is high enough to keep out most of the city lights.

In 2003 ECO 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 up to 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 workspace, storage space and a resource room.

Looking North

Etscorn Observatory. #MRO/mro

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

Etscorn Observatory. #MRO/mro

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.

Research efforts

Our research efforts currently focus on Asteroid Light curves.


View our facilities