Photo Contest Caters To Astronomy Buffs

SOCORRO, N.M. August 10, 2012 – The Magdalena Ridge Observatory, New Horizons West, and the Enchanted Skies Star Party are pleased to announce an astrophotography contest, High Altitude Astrophotography.


Astronomy enthusiasts are invited to enter the High Altitude Photography Contest in October.  Photographers are welcome to visit the Magdalena Ridge Observatory and submit an image for the contest.      MRO File Photo


To enter the contest, the contestant must be present at Magdalena Ridge Observatory during the dates of the event, take the pictures from the observatory site and submit images by noon Friday, October 12.

“The astrophotography contest is a continuing part of MRO's outreach activities. We welcome the opportunity to join with the Enchanted Skies Party and New Horizons to create an opportunity for amateur astronomers of all ages throughout the country to view and photograph the stars from Magdalena Ridge,” said Ifan Payne, MRO Program Director.

Digital images are to be submitted online at http://www.mro.nmt.edu/news/essp2012contest/. Each contestant is allowed 1 entry. Registration for the event is required. For detailed rules and registration information please visit http://www.mro.nmt.edu/news/essp2012contest/.

The contest is the brainchild of Payne and Gene Turner, founder of New Horizons West and Rancho Hidalgo. Payne and Turner discussed the concept during the Annular Eclipse Party at the Magdalena Ridge Observatory. Payne and Turner thought the annual Enchanted Skies Star Party would be the perfect time to stage a photo contest at the observatory.

“Education plays an important part in the mission of the Magdalena Ridge Observatory, which is a wonderful astronomy education and outreach resource in the state of New Mexico,” Payne said. “We hope the astrophotography contest will help make more people aware of this fantastic facility. We hope also that this sort of event will become a regular part of life at MRO and look forward to welcoming many more students, visitors and participants in our future events.”


The Magdalena Ridge Observatory's 2.4-meter single telescope operated by New Mexico Tech will host an astrophotography contest in October.



“We hope to bring in some really serious amateur astronomers from all over the country,” said Alisa Shtromberg, an optical instrumentation engineer who is helping organize the event. “This is a good opportunity to put the Magdalena Ridge Observatory on the map and let astronomy enthusiasts know about the projects at the MRO.”

The contest will take place over two nights, Wednesday and Thursday, October 10 and 11. The Enchanted Skies Star Party, one of the largest such events in the nation, will be October 10 to 13 in Socorro.

The grand prize winner’s photograph will be featured in Astronomy magazine, receive one week of free stay at Rancho Hidalgo for two ($1,000 value) and a $500 gift certificate to Starizona, second and third place winners will receive $250 and $100 gift certificates to Starizona, respectively.

New Horizons West (affiliated with Rancho Hidalgo) is an educational non-profit organization based in Animas, N.M. New Horizons provides academic programming in the science, technology, engineering, and math fields that increases academic achievement and college and career aspirations. To remain competitive in a global economy, students need to be better prepared to participate in careers as scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and technologists.

If you have never been to the Magdalena Mountains in the Cibola National Forest you would not expect that nested at the top of the mountains is the Magdalena Ridge Observatory and the Langmuir Research Laboratory for Atmospheric Research. Nor would you expect the hustle and bustle of intense research occurring on a daily basis. At the heart of New Mexico, 30 miles west of Socorro there is such a place; both research facilities associated with New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (New Mexico Tech).

For more than a decade the Enchanted Skies Star Party has been held in Socorro, N.M., and one of the highlight events each year is an observing night at the Magdalena Ridge Observatory. Amateur astronomers from around the country gather with their telescopes, binoculars, cameras, sketching pads and pens and spend a magical, glistening evening observing the celestial wonders.

The Magdalena Ridge Observatory is a multi-research and educational observatory built and operated by New Mexico Tech. The Magdalena Ridge Consortium Inc. was formed in 1996 with first design for the observatory commissioned in 2000. The Magdalena Ridge Observatory is a multi-research and educational observatory built and operated by New Mexico Tech. The 2.4-meter single telescope officially received first light in 2008. The facility partners with several agencies, including the Office of Naval Research, White Sands Missile Range and NASA. The facility is also available to New Mexico Tech students in physics and in the Master’s of Science for Teachers program.

In July 2004 a memorandum of agreement was signed with the Cavendish Laboratory of University of Cambridge, in England, to develop an interferometer. The observatory consists of two major facilities: an operational 2.4-meter (fast-tracking) telescope and the Magdalena Ridge Observatory Interferometer, which is a 10-element optical/infrared interferometer, currently under construction. The Observatory’s mission is threefold: conduct astronomical research, provide means for space situational awareness, and educate and reach out to the communities to promote science and astronomical education and interests.


– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech