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.

The observatory was built 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. The observatory contruction was completed in 1971 and officially dedicated in 1972.

The telescope housed at MRO is a computer controlled 30-inch Boller and Chivens telescope with high quality Ritchey-Chretien type optics. The telescope's instrumentation includes focal reducing optics which give it an unusually wide field of view for a telescope of this size (12 arcminutes), several sets of standard filters for astronomical photometry, and a state-of-the-art electronic 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 the observatory has available a CCD offset guider for taking long exposures. A computer controlled filter slide capable of holding 6, 2-inch square filters at a time is available to aid users in CCD photometry.

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. Manastash Ridge Observatory is also the home of Manastash Ridge Radar (MRR). MRR is a passive radar which uses commercial FM broadcasts to study ionospheric turbulence as well as meteor trails, and aircraft operated by the Department of Electrical Engineering and the Earth and Space Sciences Program at the University of Washington.


The University of Washington has supported the observatory with an operating budget for many years. We wish it could be more, but we are determined to make every penny count! Special thanks to the University of Washington College of Arts and Sciences and Graduate School for multi-year funding to renovate the MRO infrastructure. Donors to the Manastash Observatory Fund have consistently helped by providing funding for instrumentation, the current camera (Spidercam) being the latest example. John Sahr, of UW's EE and ESS (Adjunct), and the MRR folks are to be thanked for their many contributions. The Kenilworth Fund has supported undergraduate research and infrastructure improvements. We also thank the many undergraduates and graduate students who have put "blood, sweat and tears" into using and maintaining MRO.

If YOU would like to support MRO, just click here and select Manastash Observatory Fund!

Tuesday, February 21 19:27:00 PST 2011