IAO-Idyllwild Astronomical Observatory

The Idyllwild Astronomical Observatory (IAO), on the Idyllwild Arts campus, was built to enhance the Astronomy program at Idyllwild Arts and provide a space for astrophotography.

Astrophotography taken at IAO

Construction and Design

Justin Barrett and Ryan Strickland, with significant help from Edward Lerner, built the observatory beginning in June 2015 and completed the project in the Spring of 2016.

The observatory is a 12’x12′ building with a roll-off roof that currently houses an Orion ED80 Refractor imaging scope with an Orion ST80 guide scope. All of this is driven by an Orion Atlas EQ-G equatorial mount supported atop an 1100 pound concrete pier that is completely insulated from building vibrations. Two 180 watt solar panels charge five marine deep cycle batteries that are capable of providing more than 20 hours of continuous telescope and computer use without being recharged. Outside the observatory, there are six 6’x6′ pads to setup portable telescopes for a long night of observing.

The IAO would not have been possible without the generous funding from the Idyllwild Arts Foundation and Math and Science Department. A special thank you goes to department Chairs Justin Barrett and Reina Meek and to Director of Operations John Newman for approving the project. A final thank you goes to the these volunteers who helped construct the observatory: Edward Lerner, Paul Taglianetti, Sandlin and Sons, Sydney Robertson, Maggie Lam, Reina Meek, Chris Wegemer, Aaron Brice, and others. Thank you all!