Virgina Tech Observatory
Sea West Observatories upgraded the existing structure and dome at the Virginia Tech Nicholas R. Anderson Observatory
About the observatory
The Virginia Tech Nicholas R. Anderson Observatory is located in Blacksburg, Virginia, approximately 10-minutes from campus. Outfitted with cutting-edge technology, the observatory provides a dedicated space for students and faculty to engage in astronomical research and telescope operation lessons. Virginia Tech offers all students access to the Nicholas R. Anderson Observatory through their astronomy club and physics department coursework. When research is not being conducted, the observatory offers open houses on Friday evenings where the public can attend.
Virginia Tech’s observatory was built in 1974 for their physics and astronomy department. The observatory was completely manual and had to be controlled from within the dome. In 2021, Virginia Tech received funding to purchase a PlaneWave CDK500 observatory system. With this telescope purchase, the existing observatory required significant upgrades to accommodate the new technology. When Virginia Tech reached out to Sea West Observatories for an upgrade, the 16.5’ Ash-Dome had original azimuth wheels and tracks that were starting to wear out. Additionally, the original pier and telescope that was installed within the dome was under performing for the high-quality research the university desired.
Sea West Observatories partnered with Greg Stafford of Observatory Automation Solutions to provide Virginia Tech with a dome control system so that the observatory can be controlled remotely from their warm-room. Additionally, PlaneWave Instruments played a big part by providing the CDK500 observatory system and offering their expertise during the telescope installation. These partnerships allowed the Nicholas R. Anderson Observatory to affordably upgrade their observatory equipment for providing years of future astronomical research and student-led learning opportunities. Ash Manufacturing was instrumental for recommending the slip ring components for the dome automation upgrade.