Rice University Campus Observatory

RUCO LX200GPS Telescope RUCO

The next open house is scheduled for Friday November 8th...starting at 6:30pm. Check the Open Houses link for information on this and future open houses.

About the Observatory

The Rice Campus Observatory (RUCO) is used primarily as a teaching facility for undergraduate education.  Classes which make use of the observatory include Astr 201: Stars, Galaxies, and the Universe and Astr 202: Exploration of the Solar System, both introductory classes for non-science majors; Astr 221: Observing the Night Sky, a new lab class for students in all academic programs; and Astr 230: Astronomy Lab, the primary course for Astronomy majors and others to learn to use a research calibre telescope and equipment including spectrometers and CCD imagers.  Students in Astr 230 also learn advanced image processing techniques such as IRAF which they use on data taken at the campus observatory to do a final research project. Complete descriptions of the courses can be found here.
The observatory is guided by a committee of faculty with Professor Christopher M. Johns-Krull as its chair.

Observatory Location

Location: The Rice campus observatory is situated atop the new Brockman Hall for Physics building located right behind Hamman Hall. If you are driving from off campus, enter the North Parking Lot via Entrance 21 off Rice Blvd (north side of campus) and go through the yellow bar gate to the right of the entrance.
Location of RUCO The location of the observatory is on the 4th floor of building number 11 on the map. Please Note: There is a charge to use the visitor parking at Entrance 20 or 21, payable by credit card only. For major events this parking may fill up, but visitors can then use the Stadium parking lot about a half mile away. The Campus shuttle bus services the Stadium lot; ask the driver to direct you to the closest stop to Brockman Hall. Note, all campus shuttles stop running at 10:40 pm, so keep this in mind when planning your trip.
The map is taken from the Rice Univeristy Campus Map, which is an interactive map you may wish to consult if you are driving to campus. The only free parking for non-Rice visitors is available on the west side of the football stadium, quite a distance from the observatory.

Open Houses

Approximately once a month we have public viewing open houses on a weekend night near first quarter moon. The dates for these are posted at this website on the Open Houses page approximately two weeks in advance. During special astronomical events we may also have special public viewing sessions. The times for open houses depend on local sunset times, but generally start about an hour after sunset and go on for 2-3 hours thereafter. During summer months, when school is not in session, we might have additional open houses. During mid-November through mid-February we suspend open houses due to the combination of bad weather and holidays. Reservations for special nights by groups or for during scheduled open houses are not practical given our limited staff, so viewing through the 16 inch telescope is done on a "first-come, first-served" basis (sign-up sheets during high attendance nights). School groups interested in seeing an astronomical observatory and looking through telescopes should contact the George Observatory in Brazos Bend State Park (281-242-3055), which is a larger facility dedicated to serving schools in the Houston area, and one which has weekly public viewing on Saturdays. Please see the Open Houses page for more information.

More Information

For more information about astronomy and space science at Rice please refer to our research pages and our course listings Additional space-related events of interest to the public can be found on the Rice Space Institute home page.