Observing Facilities

Open dome of the Manastash Ridge Observatory

Manastash Ridge Observatory

The Manastash Ridge Observatory (MRO) houses a 30-inch telescope, and is located in central Washington state, 100 miles East of Seattle. MRO is operated by UW Astronomy primarily for the training of undergraduate students, as well as for astronomical research. Students who use the observatory learn the basics of astronomical observing as well as the care and operation of the instrumentation. The Astronomy Undergraduate Engineering Group works to maintain the site and telescope, ensuring that MRO is productive for years to come.

Apache Point Observatory

Apache Point Observatory

The Apache Point Observatory (APO) is located in the Sacramento Mountains of southern New Mexico. Our department is one of the founding members of this facility, and the 3.5-meter telescope is the centerpiece of our ground-based resources. APO is used by faculty, graduate students, and postdocs about 100 nights per year. The telescope is primarily operated remotely via the internet. Additionally a 0.5-meter photometric telescope (ARCSAT) is available for remote use. 

Sloan Digital Sky Survey

Sloan Digital Sky Survey

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) is a long-term collaborative project to survey the sky at optical and infrared wavelengths. UW Astronomy is a founding member of this collaboration, and remains heavily involved in the latest phase of the project. The original SDSS 2.5-meter purpose-built survey telescope is located at Apache Point Observatory. Southern hemisphere observations are now taken at Las Campanas Observatory. Since its first phase of photometric observations began in 2000, SDSS  continues to operate as one of the largest and most widely cited datasets in modern astronomy.

48-in Telescope at the Palomar Observatory

Zwicky Transient Facility

The Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) is a fully-automated, wide-field survey aimed at a systematic exploration of the optical transient sky. Located at the Palomar Observatory, ZTF uses a camera with a 47 square degree field of view that is mounted on the Samuel Oschin 48-inch Schmidt telescope, and scans the entire Northern sky every two days. Researchers at UW Astronomy are involved in operating the alert stream and are engaged in a wide variety of science investigations with ZTF.

Legacy Survey of Space and Time

Legacy Survey of Space and Time

The Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) is a 10-year optical survey of the southern sky on the 8.4-meter Vera C. Rubin Observatory. This survey will produce a revolutionary movie of the sky in 6 photometric bands. UW Astronomy is a major participant in the development and operation of this facility, and hosts key parts of the Data Management and Alert Pipeline development teams.

Other Facilities

Physics Shop

Physics Machine Shop

The UW Astronomy Department has ready access to the Physics Machine Shop, located in the basement of our building. Although the Astronomy Department does not operate the Shop, it has been a major resource to our faculty and students. This facility is capable of producing very sophisticated hardware, and has helped produce for APO, as well as generating the SDSS plug plates for many years. The Machine Shop also houses a Student Shop for training and use.