MRO History and Basic Data
The Manastash Ridge Observatory (MRO) is located
approximately 9 miles West-Southwest of Ellensburg, WA. The observatory
is at an altitude of 3930' (1198 m), a longitude of 120.7278 degrees West,
and a latitude of +46.9528 degrees.
MRO is operated by the Astronomy Department of the
University of Washington for the training of graduate and
undergraduate students as well as for astronomical research. Some
support for the observatory is also given by Central Washington
University which is located in Ellensburg. Outside views of the
observatory taken from the
North, East, and West are shown here.
The observatory houses a computer controlled
Boller and Chivens telescope with high
quality Ritchey-Chretian type optics. Here is an alternate view
of the telescope from the west. Instrumentation at the
observatory includes focal reducing optics which give the telescope
an unusually wide field of view for a telescope of this size (~9 arcminutes),
several sets of standard filters for astronomical photometry, and a
state-of-the-art Marconi 1024 x 1024 pixel Charged Coupled Device
(CCD) in a Thermo-Electrically cooled camera housing which allows
observers to take low-light images of astronomical objects.
The telescope tracking and pointing is under computer control and
a rotating filter slide
capable of holding 7 50mm square filters at a time is available to aid users
in CCD photometry.
Undergraduate students from the University of
Washington are the primary users of the observatory.
UW students are shown here at the controls
of the telescope during a typical night. Students who use the
observatory must learn the basics of astronomical observing as well
as the care and operation of the instrumentation.
The observatory was built in 1972 at the
initiative of George Wallerstein, a professor of Astronomy at the UW.
Its construction was funded by grants from the National Science
Foundation as well as by funds from the state of Washington. The
location of the site was carefully chosen to allow Seattle students
reasonable access to dry and dark sky conditions which are available
on the eastern slopes of the Cascades. Owing to its remote location,
the observatory includes a kitchen, a
living room, three bedrooms, and
two bath rooms on-site which allow students and faculty the opportunity
for multiple-night observing programs with a minimum of travel.
The observatory is normally open between the months of April and November
with August and September being the busiest and most productive months of
observation. Snowfall usually closes the road to the facility during
the winter months.