Blackbird Observatories

Original location

From March 2005 until August 2010, many images on this web site were taken from the original BlackBird Observatory. It housed a .5 meter Ritchey-Chretien Telescope manufactured by RC Optical Systems that rides on a Paramount ME mount. The telescope and associated equipment to support its remote use is owned by the Internet Telescope Partnership, of which I am a full Partner. The observatory was situated at 7,300 ft. (2,225 meters) elevation under spectacularly clear and dark skies in the south central Sacramento Mountains of New Mexico, near Mayhill.

Blackbird II Observatory

During the fall of 2010, the telescope, mount and all other equipment were relocated to the new Blackbird II Observatory located at 4,610 feet (1,410 meters) elevation in the California Sierra-Nevada Mountains between Yosemite and Kings Canyon National Parks near Alder Springs, California. The site rises several thousand feet above its surrounding terrain in all directions. The prevailing Westerly wind moves smoothly over the site and there are no mountains to the west that introduce atmospheric turbulence. This produces a laminar airflow that often results in spectacular seeing conditions.

Imaging instrumentation

Beginning January 2010, the principal instrument for acquiring telescopic imagery is the Apogee Alta U16M-HC (16 mega-pixel) astronomical camera. Color exposures are accomplished with an Apogee AI-FW50-7S filter wheel equipped with Astrodon E-Series filters.

Prior to 2010, imagery was produced with a SBIG STL-11000M (11 mega-pixel) astronomical camera, the SBIG AO-L adaptive optics unit and Custom Scientific filters.

In 2014, the original RC Optical Instruments telescope was replaced with an exquisite Officina Stellare PRO RC 500 half-meter instrument.

The combination of sophisticated electronics, dark skies, high elevation, and outstanding optics enables complete remote control of the telescope, camera and observatory facilities for acquisition of fine high quality images over the Internet.

Original Blackbird Observatory
Mayhill, New Mexico

Blackbird II Observatory
Alder Springs, California

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