Operated by the Department of Physics and Astronomy, the Rice University Campus Observatory (RUCO) features a computerized 16" Meade telescope, and several smaller telescopes for use primarily in undergraduate courses at Rice. RUCO is situated on the a terrace on the eastern side of the roof of the Brockman Hall of Physics on campus. The observatory moved to this location early in 2011 and is in full operation. During the Academic Year (Sept through May) we typically hold open houses sometime during the weekend near the first quarter Moon, with a faculty member present to answer questions on astronomy. RUCO is normally closed during the summer months. Please refer to our schedule of open houses for dates and times.
Classes which make use of the observatory include:
- Astr 101: Stars, Galaxies, and the Universe, an introductory astronomy course for non-majors
- Astr 102: Exploration of the Solar System, an introductory class in planetary science for non-science majors
- Astr 230: Astronomy Lab, the primary course for Astronomy majors and others to learn to use a research caliber telescope and equipment including spectrometers and CCD imagers. Students in Astr 230 also learn advanced image processing techniques which they use to analyze data taken with RUCO and McDonald Observatory telescopes to do a final research project.
- Upper level courses may also make use of RUCO throughout the semester.
- We also offer special courses for teachers that use the observatory: ASTR 502, ASTR503, and ASTR530.
The observatory is guided by a committee of faculty with Chris Johns-Krull as its chair.
Additional space-related events of interest to the public can be found on the Rice Space Institute page.
Location and Parking
RUCO is located on the roof of the Brockman Hall for Physics, to the south of the North Parking Lot (direction away from the hedges/running track). The North lot and the smaller North Annex lot are both accessible from entrance 20 off Rice Blvd. The North Annex to the right of the first stop sign, is available for public parking for a nominal fee. Whether or not you will be able to use the North lot (on the left as you come in from Rice Blvd.) depends upon the time of day and the latest parking regulations. To get to Brockman from the North Annex lot, walk along Campanile Rd about 100 meters to the far eastern end of the North lot and proceed south (turn right). You will be able to see the dome on the roof from the east end of the North parking lot. Enter Brockman, take the elevator or stairs to the fourth floor, and go through the double doors to the observing terrace.
For major events the North Annex lot 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, when this page was written all campus shuttles stopped running at 10:40 pm, so keep this in mind when planning your trip. This problem is rare though, most of the time there will be parking available in the North Annex or even in the North lot itself. If you are on-campus after midnight, the only way to get off campus is to weave your way over to Entrance 8 on University Blvd. by the police station.