Since its founding in 1973, Keystone College’s Thomas G. Cupillari ’60 Observatory has served as a tremendous resource for Keystone students and members of the community.
Now, the observatory is taking a major step forward by participating in two important research projects.
The observatory has entered into agreements with the Lowell Observatory, Albuquerque, N.M. and the Klipsch School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, N.M. The partnerships will enable the Keystone facility to share images and data with observatories and other sites throughout the world.
The Keystone Observatory is participating with the Lowell Observatory in a worldwide project to increase knowledge about objects beyond the orbit of the dwarf planet Pluto, about 3.6 billion miles from the earth. The Lowell Observatory transmits a list of asteroids and other objects traveling in space to participating partners, including Keystone.
Long-exposure images of objects on the list are taken using a high-tech camera attached to Keystone’s powerful 20-inch Ritchey-Chretien telescope. Asteroid positions on those photographs are then measured and the data is then transmitted to the Lowell Observatory to help create a more accurate analysis of objects as they travel through space.
The New Mexico State University agreement enables Keystone to participate in the university’s All-Sky Camera Network. Central to this project is a sophisticated camera network intended to monitor, track, and analyze atmospheric meteors in order to provide an informational data base to help satellite operators separate natural and man-made events and make it easier to calibrate their instruments.