Preston Gott Observatory

The Preston Gott Observatory is the observatory for Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. Originally located on campus, the observatory was moved to a location about 20km north of the city when light pollution became too much of a problem. While the new location is a little less accessible for students, taking about 30 minute to drive, astronomically it is much more suitable with the skies being much darker. Although the southern sky is fairly bright, typical limiting magnitudes at the zenith are 6.7.

When first moved to the new location, the observatory consisted of a dome and small foyer. Later a classroom was added along with a concrete area for outside viewing.

The first telescope mounted in the dome was a 16" newtonian. Due to the cumbersome nature of this telescope and the problems of access to the eyepiece, this telescope was replaced with a PlaneWave 20" cassegrain.

The telescope is used mostly for CCD imaging and both the telescope and camera are controlled by computer from within the dome. While it probably would be nice to control everything from elsewhere, with the dome not yet automated, it is easier to make sure it is lined up with the telescope if the observer is also in there!

With over 600 astronomy students each semester, the observatory is in considerable demand! The concrete pad outside is used most frequently for naked-eye observing.

This area is also used by the local astronomy club for their Starparties and for various public observing.

When students would be doing visual observing through the telescopes, these would be set up on the concrete pad.

Even much of the CCD imaging was done using portable telescopes outside as even 3 observers sharing the 20" limited the amount of work that each could accomplish.

Setting up telescopes night after night quickly gets very tiresome, plus it limited the amount of time available on the 20" for research. It was therefore decided to construct a roll-off roof building that would permanently house 6 telescopes. This was constructed during the spring of 2013 and first used by students during the Autumn 2013 semester. The overwhelming response has been delight, both on the part of the students and the lab assistants!

Currently in the buillding are 4 12" Meade telescopes, each with an SBIG ST-9XE CCD for imaging as well as visual use, plus a 20" PlaneWave and a 5" Meade refractor. Now all we need to do is add a warm room!!