Survey ranks teaching observatory third among colleges in the nation

woman looks at sky with binocular telescope

Image: Texas A&M College of Science

In addition to a world-class astronomy program, Texas A&M University is home to one of the top three college astronomy observatories in the nation, according to the website College Rank.

The Texas A&M Physics and Astronomy Teaching Observatory is ranked No. 3 in a recent survey of the 25 Best College Astronomy Observatories by CollegeRank.net, a Michigan-based web entity seeking to “cut through the noise” of online college-related information by highlighting — and, wherever possible, ranking — every aspect of what different colleges have to offer in hopes of giving prospective students a more holistic understanding of their many higher-education options.

“We beat out many established names in astronomy programs at other universities,” said Nicholas B. Suntzeff, university distinguished professor of physics and astronomy and head of the Texas A&M astronomy program. “Of course, it is Don Carona who should be named No. 3, considering the observatory only exists in its present form because of his dedicated work.”

Since 2005 Carona has served as the first and only manager of the Texas A&M 0bservatory, a key part of the university’s internationally known astronomy program. Under his leadership, the observatory has become a premier teaching resource. The facility features a 60-seat classroom, a 16-inch telescope housed under an 18-foot hydraulically operated dome, a robotic observatory with a 20-inch telescope that can be controlled remotely via the Internet, and a student observing deck that supports 16 telescope piers for 8-inch student telescopes used in various astronomy classes as well as public outreach events.

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