The Rio Rancho Astronomical Society has had the good fortune to acquire three “research-grade” telescopes: 12.5” Newtonian 16” Cassegrain 25” Obsession Dobsonian
A permanent facility, designed by Winton Smith of URI Construction Inc., now houses these instruments and provides a location for educational programming for the community.
The City of Rio Rancho Parks and Recreation Department has partnered with us by securing land at the Rainbow Park complex for the project. Work has begun with the local public schools, SIPI, UNM, CNM, private and home schools to develop educational programming for the general public.
The Newtonian and Cassegrain telescopes were donated by the family of the late Walter Hiltbrunner, a longtime Rio Rancho resident. The Obsession Dobsonian was a gift from John Sefick, a transplant to New Mexico from Chicago who was instrumental in the building of the observatories at Chaco Culture National Historical Park and Rio Rancho High School.
Another feature of the facility is an outdoor planetarium and interactive sundial. The planetarium is a circular ring of benches that will be used for teaching visitors about the night sky. The interactive sundial works by having an observer stand in the center on the block for the month of the year, and his shadow tells the time.