Observatory Complex


The Embry-Riddle Prescott Observatory Complex, ranked No. 8 among such observatories in the nation, is an incredibly valuable resource for ERAU's Space Physics students as well as for the entire astronomy community of Prescott.

Students use the observatory for collection and analysis of astronomical data for use in research projects for degree requirements. Faculty members also use the observatory for research and to provide outreach to the community through public viewings, open houses and other events in conjunction with local educators and astronomy enthusiasts.

Student research at the Observatory Complex produces outstanding results in student projects, such as:

  • Observing exoplanets transiting in front of their parent stars
  • Mapping the movement of clouds of Hydrogen gas in the Milky Way
  • Optical and radio observations of meteors
  • Timing the pulses of energy from rapidly rotating Neutron Stars

Observatory Facility and Equipment 

The Embry-Riddle Prescott Campus Observatory Complex consists of the Optical Observatory and the Radio Observatory. Both Observatories are used by students for laboratory courses and research projects, including senior capstone projects for the Astronomy and Space Physics degrees.

The primary telescope at the Optical Observatory is a 16-inch Meade LX600-ACF equipped with an 11-megapixel scientific-quality CCD camera. A professional UBVRI filter set allows students to make research-quality brightness measurements of objects such as exoplanets, variable stars, and supernovae. An echelle spectrograph is being installed to allow students to determine the chemical “fingerprints” of stars and nebulae, and measure the orbital motions of stars and exoplanets. A separate all-sky meteor camera system shares data with our colleagues at Lowell Observatory and the SETI Institute to measure the tracks of meteors.

The Radio Observatory consists of a wide variety of radio dishes and antennas to study astronomical objects at frequencies from Kilohertz to Terahertz, all equipped with sophisticated digital receivers. These radio telescopes include:

  • The Dipole Array Radio Telescope (DART) for pulsar timing measurements
  • A 4-meter dish equipped with a 1420 MHz receiver for measuring Hydrogen gas
  • In collaboration with Arizona State University, the 14-meter HERA dish, a testbed for similar antennas deployed at a remote location in South Africa
  • Radio Jove dipole antenna for measuring Jupiter’s violent magnetosphere as well as solar activity
  • Multi-element Yagi antennas for detecting over-the-horizon radio signals that “bounce” off of meteor trails

Lab Information

To speak to someone about this lab or any of our facilities, call us at 928-777-6600 or 800-888-3728, or email Prescott@erau.edu.

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