The Bunker Ranch Observatory

Last update: March 3, 2019

Phase of the Moon North America Nebula Weather Underground PWS KNMANIMA2
Current lunar phase from the U. S. Naval Observatory North America Nebula from BRO

Check out the astrophotos taken at the observatory in the BRO Sunquest gallery.

From the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) National Weather Service: get the forecast for the bootheel area and the cloud cover in the bootheel and southern Arizona during the day or at night. And here's the Rodeo forecast from the Weather Underground.

A wider-field satellite view shows the cloud cover over a larger area.

The Astronomy Picture of the Day, from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, is always interesting.


My interest in astronomy dates back to the time when I, as a third-grader, got a copy of Fred Hoyle's Frontiers of Astronomy. I read it over and over, practically memorizing it, fascinated by the idea that we could actually figure out what was going on inside a star, an object that appeared to be just a tiny pinpoint of white light.

It wasn't too long after that that I got a small telescope; later, as a high-school freshman, I got a larger telescope. It wasn't too long after that that I wanted an observatory so I wouldn't have to lug the thing in and out of the house!

Now, decades later, the time, at last, has come. Construction of the observatory is complete, and the dream has become reality.

The observatory owes its name to my builder. He told everybody who asked that he was building a bunker, in reference to the buried basement (it lies underneath the structure that holds the roof when it is rolled off). During construction, he presented me with a sign dubbing this site the "Bunker Ranch". So it seemed most fitting to name the facility "The Bunker Ranch Observatory".


Telescope on mount

The 400mm Hypergraph appears here all decked out with a finderscope, guidescope, and 100 lb. (45 kg) of counterweights on the extended counterweight shaft of the AP1200GTO mount, ready for a night of visual observation.

My other telescope is a Takahashi BRC-250.

(Photograph by Dennis R. Friedrichsen)

The control computer for the observatory is an Apple Mac Mini running OS X. There's a gigabit fiber link from the basement, so I can do astrophotography from the comfort of my living area. I have a computer running Windows XP® because I need to run things like TurboCAD® and PhotoShop®, so I'm stuck with one (but only one!) Windows box. All in all, I'd really rather be running FreeBSD®.

The TRF Housing Tract Home Page

Terry R. Friedrichsen
terry at mail . sunquest . com (include BRO in the subject line)