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George Observatory - Brazos Bend State Park, TX
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Raven
N 29° 22.500 W 095° 35.616
15R E 248255 N 3252329
Quick Description: A set of 3 astronomical domes by the Brazos Bend State Park's Visitor Center, near Needville Texas (USA). Their main 36" telescope is one of the largest telescopes in the US that is regularly available for public viewing.
Location: Texas, United States
Date Posted: 1/22/2018 7:02:27 AM
Waymark Code: WMXK2J
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member snaik
Views: 1

Long Description:
Located near the Visitor Center of Brazos Bend State Park in Ford Bend county, Texas (about 30 miles southwest of Houston), the George Observatory -- known by local astronomers as "The George" -- comprises of 3 telescope domes maintained by the Houston Museum of Natural Science and the Fort Bend Astronomy Club ("FBAC"). These 3 domes (one large dome flanked by two smaller ones, aligned in a East-West formation) sit on top of the Expedition Learning Center, a small public indoor museum that -- among other educational activities -- gives visitors an opportunity to be part of a simulated space mission.

Used for both inquiry and education, the George Observatory's main five telescopes are 36, 18, 14, 11 and 6 inches in size and allow both professional and amateur astronomers to conduct research, while visitors can gain first-hand knowledge of the night sky.

The centerpiece of the Observatory is the 36" Gueymard Research Telescope, which is located in the center dome. It is noted as one of the largest telescopes in the US that is regularly available for public viewing. A Ritchey—Chretien design, this main telescope features hyperbolic primary and secondary mirrors which sharpen the image, eliminating the fuzzy edges around its center (what is known to astronomers as "off-axis coma"). With optics this precise, the telescope brings to the naked eye the phenomena of deep space.

Mounted on the main 36” Gueymard Research Telescope telescope are two refractors: the first one is a 6” from Parallax Instruments, while the other is a 11” refractor donated by Preston Engebretson which is purported to have near perfect lenses and offers stunning views of the planets and solar system.

Housed in the West Dome is a completely computerized 14” Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope on a Paramount driving platform.

The East Dome houses a 18” fork-mounted equatorial Newtonian reflecting telescope owned by the Fort Bend Astronomy Club. It is used by its members for observations as well as for asteroid and super-nova searches (note: the FBAC asteroid search team has discovered 480+ asteroids to date).

All three domes are open for public viewing on Saturday nights and on special occasions. Depending on the time of the month and the season of the year, visitors can observe a variety of phenomena such as Saturn’s rings, cloud belts on Jupiter, a partial or total eclipse of the Moon, a bright meteor or fireball that lights up the ground, the Milky Way, or a close pairing of two planets. Most often than not, a dozen or so telescope enthusiasts will also bring out and set up their own huge -- yet still portable -- rigs around the three main domes, eager to share their love of the night sky with the general public. While lines for the three big scopes can sometimes be long (especially during unusual astral events like eclipses), it's a lot of fun to flit from one small telescope to another. Often these owners will be willing to retrain their telescopes towards anything you want to see, presuming it's above the horizon.

More information about the observatory can be found at the Houston Museum of Natural Science's official George Observatory website as well as the Fort Bend Astronomy Club's own dedicated webpage to this observatory.
Observatory Purpose: Research

Optical / Infrared Telescopes?: Yes

Radio Telescopes?: No

Solar Telescopes?: No

Open to the Public?: Yes

Is this a Club Observatory?: Yes

Public Viewing Allowed?: Yes

Active Observatory?: Active

Number of Telescopes or Antennas: 3 to 5

Site URL: [Web Link]

Year Dedicated or Opened: 1989

Altitude (meters): 24

Visit Instructions:
Note the time of day of your visit, and your own photo of your favorite part of the observatory. This might be the view from the observatory, picture of your favorite building or favorite exhibit. (Be mindful of flash photography rules!)

If you participated in an observing session, let everyone know what you saw!

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Raven visited George Observatory - Brazos Bend State Park, TX 1/6/2018 Raven visited it