Windowpane Observatory | Ask the Astronomer, Astrotales, Astronomy 101, Name a Galaxy
Name a galaxyName a galaxy... a gift that lasts longer than forever. Packages start at $20.  > get details is the sister site to

If you wish to name a star or galaxy, click here.

If you want more information about the observatory itself, which is located in Ajo, Arizona, USA, click here.

If you have a question for our astronomers, please visit

If you wish to speak with an astronomer or register a galaxay or star, please call 505-463-8360.


A distant solar system like our own

This artist's rendering of a distant solar system shows two newly discovered planets -- one resembling Jupiter and one resembling Saturn. Both planets orbit a star that is about half the size of our sun. The light from a more distant star (upper right) made the discovery possible, as it brightened and dimmed through a phenomenon called gravitational microlensing.
mage courtesy of Cheongho Han and colleagues at the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute.

Windowpane Observatory's Telescope Up Close

ash dome observatoryThe observatory dome is a 17 foot Ash Dome with the Lanphier Shutter System. The Lanphier shutter is a 4 ft. square pane of optical quality glass that allows the interior of the dome to be climate controlled. Hence, the name Windowpane Observatory or WPO. There are only 9 observatories in the world with the Lanphier Shutter as the concept is poorly understood and untested.

Armed with assurances from the manufacturer, WPO achieved great success using the Lanphier optical glass that climate-controls the observatory even with large temperature differences up to 70 degrees F. between the outside of the dome and the interior temperature. Most astronomers believed this to be impossible due to heat radiation off the glass plate. Extensive testing at the high altitude site proved that because heat was radiating evenly across the entire surface of the glass images were not blurred working to powers of 300X. The Windowpane Observatory glass plate became the subject of several research studies in climate controlled observatories and was presented in a series of papers and lectures at the University of Texas McDonald Observatory.

They key to high resolution was to make sure that the flat plane of the primary mirror was exactly parallel to the plane of the windowpane optical glass portal. In addition to protection from the elements, the windowpane glass portal eliminated the problem of wind tunnelling from high wind gusts as the entire dome environment was draft free. Before relocating to Ajo, AZ, Windowpane Observatory was operating at 8,000 ft. outside Santa Fe, NM with an Antarctic package that allowed snow loads up to 10 ft.

Now the telescope has been moved to Ajo and the observatory that got its name from its viewing portal window pane has excellent ambient temperatures 8 months out of the year. If you would like to learn more about Windowpane Observatory or the universe in general please do not hesitate to call 505-463-8360. If you get the voice mail it means astronomers are either observing or sleeping during the day, but we will call you back sometime between 12 noon and 6 pm MST. Or try calling during that time and talk to real astronomer, not a call center.

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