UNM Campus Observatory

UNM Dept. of Physics & Astronomy
210 Yale Blvd NE, UNM North Campus
505 277-2616 (8 AM-5 PM)

For questions about the Observatory, please email UNM Campus Observatory (Prof. Pihlström).

Currently closed due to the COVID-19 virus restrictions - no Friday night open houses will be held until further notice

About the Observatory

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The UNM Campus Observatory provides an opportunity for UNM students, school groups, and the interested public to view the night skies in a convenient setting within Albuquerque. It is used for education during the week, but it is also a public service of the department. Every Friday night during the UNM semesters we have open for public viewing sessions, weather permitting.

Public Viewing

When the weather permits, we have open for public viewing sessions Friday evenings during UNM semester. The viewing sessions are held 7-9pm during daylight savings time, and 8-10pm during standard time.

Facility: Our facility is an observatory, where we view celestial objects in the night sky. The viewing sessions are therefore subject to weather conditions, and can be cancelled at the very last minute or closed in the middle of a session if clouds are moving in blocking the views. Note that we do not have a planetarium, which is a facility projecting images of the sky onto a ceiling. Local planetariums can be found at the Museum of Natural History.

About the public viewing sessions: If the weather allows, we will open the doors to our facility and allow visitors to look through the telescopes at objects in the night sky. There is no special program or talks, it is simply a viewing sessions. Our telescope operators will tell you about the objects you view though, explain what they are, and answer questions.

Visitors can come and go as they please, there is no need to arrive right at the beginning or stay until the very end. There is no cost associated with the viewing sessions, it is free for all interested viewers of the universe.

Are we open tonight? The weather decides if we will be open. The telescopes cannot see through clouds, so if it is too cloudy we cannot observe. We take the decision before 3pm on Friday afternoons, and post it here on the web page. However, it does happen that clouds move in faster than expected and the observatory will have to close on a short notice, sometimes in the middle of a viewing session. It can also go the other way; we may have decided to be closed and then it clears up - in this case, as we have to notify our operators before 3pm, we cannot open up on a short notice. Weather can be unpredictable, and we strive to take the best decision allowing for a pleasant observing experience for our visitors.

Rules: Smoking is not allowed on Campus. Please make sure to dress appropriately as it may be cold wintertime. The observatory is not heated, as we open the dome to the night air. In order to provide optimal viewing conditions for all visitors, it is important to preserve night vision. Please do not use bright lights near the telescopes (bright phone screens, flashlights, flash photography, etc.)

Location On Yale Blvd. NE, 2 blocks north of Lomas
Stucco building with white dome
See map
Facilities Celestron 14” EdgeHD acquired in 2018
Parking Free during Observatory hours in the M Lot adjacent to Observatory building
Viewing Dates Every Friday during the Fall and Spring Semesters (except Thanksgiving, and Fall and Spring Break) when the weather is clear. We are closed during the summer.
Hours 7-9 p.m. MST, 8-10 p.m. MDT
Admission Open to the public as well as UNM students...free of charge.
Group Arrangements For groups of 15 or more, contact us via email at least 2 weeks in advance to make reservations (for the Friday night sessions): UNM Campus Observatory (Prof. Pihlström. We ask for this to avoid overcrowding, for a hopefully more pleasant experience.
Safety Information If we are open, the doors to the courtyard and the dome will be open, and red lights will be on inside. If the door to the courtyard is closed we are not open. It is possible for the weather to turn bad during a public evening, in which case we may close early. If you experience an emergency, call 911. Otherwise, the number for the campus police is 277-2241.
What’s in the sky right now? Sky and Telescope’s skychart is adaptable for any location and any time.
Meade 14" LX200GPS Telescope:
Meade 14 inch LX200GPS acquired in 2004 Meade 14 inch LX200GPS acquired in 2004
A mosaic image of the Moon made with our new CCD camera on the 14" Meade.
Image by Daniel Zirzow and Mark Gorski
The Orion Nebula (M42) photographed through the 14" Meade
by Daniel Zirzow and Dave Martin: