Oliver Observing Station

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Oliver Observing Station
Organization Monterey Institute for Research in Astronomy
Location Ventana Wilderness
Coordinates 36°18′20″N 121°34′00″W / 36.30556°N 121.56667°W / 36.30556; -121.56667Coordinates: 36°18′20″N 121°34′00″W / 36.30556°N 121.56667°W / 36.30556; -121.56667
Altitude 5,000 feet (1,525 meters)
Website www.mira.org
Unnamed Telescope 36 inch (91 cm) Cassegrain
Oliver Observing Station is located in the US
Oliver Observing Station
Location of Oliver Observing Station

The Oliver Observing Station, named after Barnard M. Oliver, is an independent professional astronomical observatory owned and operated by Monterey Institute for Research in Astronomy (MIRA). It is located in the Los Padres National Forest, about 20 miles east and south of Carmel Valley, California, just a few miles before the Tassajara monastery. The primary telescope is the 36-inch Cassegrain Reflector; the first telescope built by Dr. Frank Melsheimer (now DFM Engineering). The mirror was the mirror from Project Stratoscope, the precursor experiment to the Hubble Space Telescope[1].

The site has world-class qualities for optical astronomical observations. It was first publicized by Merle Walker[2] and more fully characterized by Hutter et al.[3] as having sub-arcsecond seeing and a high number of photometric-quality nights per year. It is well protected from light pollution to the south by the Ventana Wilderness inside the Los Padres National Forest and to the west by the Pacific Ocean. The less valuable northern direction is impacted by light from the Monterey-Salinas complex and San Jose. The east is moderately safe due to the highly agriculturally-productive Salinas Valley but is slowly becoming more light polluted, especially in the area of Soledad.

Instrumentation includes a dual-ported Cassegrain spectrograph, echelle spectrographs, and direct cameras used for imaging and precision photometry.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Savage, Blair. "Technical Challenges of Stratoscope II". Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  2. ^ Walker, Merle. "The California Site Survey". Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. 82: 672.
  3. ^ Hutter, D. J.; et al. "Seeing Tests at Four Sites in Support of the NPOI Project". Astronomical Journal. 114: 2822.