For several years, beginning in 1996, AASTA had managed and operated the observatory at the summit of Rattlesnake Mountain, located 27 km (17 miles) northwest of Richland, Washington.

The observatory’s primary astronomical instrument was a 0.8-meter Cassegrain-style reflecting telescope, housed in the large (24-foot diameter) dome in the lower portion of the photograph at left. 

Over the next several years, AASTA performed a great deal of refurbishment of the facility, driven largely by the local community interest and commitment to science education.

By 2004, AASTA had successfully brought the telescope under local computerized control, whereby an observer, physically located within the dome, could operate the telescope and dome entirely through interaction with the graphical interface on the telescope control computer.

In 2008, citing ecological and cultural sensitivities, the Department of Energy requested that the telescope and dome be removed from the site.  This removal took place in June 2009; with significant financial and logistical assistance provided by Battelle.

AASTA is presently continuing the telescope refurbishment and evaluating sites in the region at which the telescope may be relocated.

Further Reading