General Information

Overview

The Wallace Astrophysical Observatory is a teaching and research facility run by the planetary astronomy lab in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences (EAPS) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Students in the observing subjects at MIT, 12.409 "Hands-on Astronomy: Observing Stars and Planets" and 12.410 "Observational Techniques of Optical Astronomy", travel to Wallace to make observations.

There are six telescopes mounted on permanent concrete piers at the site. The two largest telescopes at Wallace, the 24-in and the 16-in Cassegrain reflectors, each have their own domes. Four more telescopes are housed in an observing shed with a roll-off roof.

The main building at Wallace has a restroom with shower, a kitchenette area, a common room, a bunk room, a work room which doubles as the observer's control room for the 24-in, and a machine shop area.

When observing at Wallace...

History

The George R. Wallace Astrophysical Observatory was dedicated on October 14, 1971. It is named for a member of the MIT Class of 1913 who supported construction of the observatory. Also contributing was the estate of Mary Waterbury in the memory of her husband Charles Waterbury, Class of 1895.

The observatory was originally designed with two telescopes. A 24-in Cassegrain reflector in its own dome adjacent to the main building was intended for cutting edge research in optical astronomy and related sciences. (more 24-in history) A 16-in Cassegrain reflector in its own dome across the driveway was primarily intended for instructional purposes and as a test area for new instrumentation. (more 16-in history) In 1984 the observing shed was added to accomodate larger numbers of students taking observing subjects. (more shed history)