Observatory Specifications

Observatory Location and Facilities

Located at Hunewell Ranch, 8 miles east of Stephenville, Texas, the Tarleton State University Observatory is an 840-square-foot facility with a 20.5-foot (wide slit) ash dome.

Site LatitudeN 32° 13′ 58.37″
Site LongitudeW 98° 5′ 51.46″
Site Elevation344 m

Observatory-to-Campus Communications

  • 180-foot Rohn 45G Tower
  • Radio equipment – UBIQUITI Powerstation 5 wireless CPE – 5 GHz, 22db Vertical pole version

Construction completed – February, 2006
Telescope fully operational – April, 2006


  • The telescope is a fully remotely controlled 32-inch (0.8m) Research-Grade Ritchey-Chretien. The robotic feature is not yet operational.
    • Aperture diameter of telescope: 800 mm
    • Aperture area of telescope: 141775 mm2
    • F/ratio: 7
    • Focal length: 5600 mm
  • Manufactured and installed by Astronomical Consultants and Equipment, Inc. (ACE)
  • Piggybacked 6-inch Takahashi refractor

Telescope Control and Data Acquisition

Telescope control and data acquisition can be performed from three locations:

  1. Observatory Control Room
  2. Campus Control Room
  3. PC via the Internet

Observatory Control Room

  • 2 high end PC computers with Microsoft Windows XP. One computer is dedicated for Telescope control with ACE Telescope Control Software. The second computer is dedicated for CCD camera and guide stage camera
  • 1 high end PC computer dedicated for weather station, and other astronomy related task.

Campus Control Rooms

  • 2 high end PC computers with Microsoft Windows XP for accessing the observatory control room computers
  • 2 high end PC computers with Microsoft Windows XP for data reduction and analysis and relevant administrative tasks.
  • 1 Linux computers with Fedora core 13 for data reduction and analysis
  • 1 high end PC computer configured as File Server with over 1 TB of storage space
  • Astronomy Software and Applications
    • MaxIM DL
    • AIP4Win
    • Mira Pro
    • IDL
    • Astrometrica
    • Microsoft Office
    • Adobe Photoshop
    • SAS Enterprise Miner
    • FORTRAN compiler

Remote Control via PC

  • The Observatory computers can be accessed remotely via VNC software, however access is limited to only authorized users at present.
  • The images from the Science Camera can be viewed on the observatory website. The authorized user has to initiate the live update at the time of observations for the images to be displayed on our website. This is done from the camera computer at the observatory. Guest observers can view the images this way and can interact with local user either using the traditional phone line or via SKYPE. The local user has a web cam and a computer available for this purpose.


  • The telescope is equipped for Photometry. We have plans to add a spectrometer in the future.
  • Main Science Camera: Fingerlake CCD Camera (FOV 1×1 binning is 0.497 arc seconds / pixel or 0.0.282 degrees). The camera was specifically chosen for survey type work, however we also do color photometry of eclipsing binary stars, Transit monitoring of extra solar planets and asteroid search.
  • SBiG ST402 Guide Camera
  • Custom Scientific Research Grade U, B, V, R, I, ND and H-alpha filters
    • Transmission curves (to be added later)
  • ACE Dual Filter Wheel, X-Stage Finder Guider
  • Seeing Monitor (expected operation date is 20th May 20011)
  • GPS Time Server (NTS-4000) for synching the observatory computers
  • 6 and 10 inch Dobsonian scopes for general night time observing
  • Various optical eyepieces
  • Cannon 10D camera for Astrophotography
  • Specialized video cameras for video recording through telescope eyepiece tube
  • Three Dish Network dish radio antennas with CM 10041FD signal strength meters, including a laptop with Radio SkyPipe II software for Radio Astronomy Projects.

Telescope Funding

  • $500K DOE FIPSE Grant Optical Observatory for Tarleton State University Astronomy and Research Center
  • $145K Tarleton State University Building Fund
  • Plus additional DOE FIPSE Grant Money from Center for Astronomy Research and Education