Stargazing, Lumberjack style
SFA operates not one but two observatories for students to take their learning to the next level. In fact, we operate the second-largest observatory in the state (and the entire central time zone, for that matter!) and the largest student observatory in Texas.
The observatories are located 11 miles north of Nacogdoches in order to ensure that students have the clearest, light pollution-free view of the night sky possible.
SFA’s student observatory
Upwards of 600 astronomy students a year take advantage of the biggest student observatory in the state of Texas. Students use this observatory to enhance their learning experience at SFA and to conduct research of their own.
The Society of Physics Students also conducts regular public viewing nights at the student observatory to introduce the public to a view of the night sky they rarely see and will never forget.
World-class research observatory
Our research observatory is a busy place. Staff and students alike take advantage of these facilities and have dedicated their time to exploring the outer reaches of space and the planets and phenomena that can be found there.
Some current and past research at the SFA research observatory includes:
- Supernova research
- Minor planet research
- Radio astronomy
- Extrasolar planets
The research observatory operates two different telescopes:
- An 18-inch telescope that was used by NASA to study the moon before the Apollo program: It has been with SFA since 1976 and became one of the first computer assisted telescopes at a campus-based observatory in 1979. This telescope is equipped with CCD photometer and imaging system.
- A 41-inch telescope designed and built by the faculty and staff of the Department of Physics, Engineering, and Astronomy: This telescope has been in operation since 1984 and, like its 18-inch counterpart, is computer-controlled.
The student observatory operates 12 8-inch Meade LX-90 Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes and four 6-inch Newtonian reflectors that can be mounted on rigid pedestals for student use.
Directions to the observatory
The SFA Observatory is located 11 miles north of Nacogdoches, off of highway 259. Here is a printable map.
Download free star charts to help you plan your viewing sessions here.