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Fall 2022 - Help Resurrect OSU's Mendenhall Observatory

Raised toward our $10,000 Goal
48 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on November 29, at 11:59 PM CST
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Fall 2022 - Help Resurrect OSU's Mendenhall Observatory

OSU’s very own observatoryThe Mendenhall Observatoryis located just a few miThe 24-inch diameter Ritchey-Chretien optical telescope (photo credit: Kim Zoldak)les southwest of OSU’s Stillwater campus, and it is home to the largest telescope in the state of Oklahoma—a 24-inch diameter Ritchey-Chrétien (RC) optical telescope. In recent years, the telescope and observatory have undergone normal physical and technological ageing, which has rendered it inoperable in its present state. The Physics department at OSU is committed to resurrecting the observatory by updating the telescope control system’s hardware and software to modern technology. 

Your donation will help to return the Mendenhall Observatory to a state-of-the-art facility that can be enjoyed not only by the OSU community, but also by the local community and nearby primary and secondary schools. The observatory will be utilized again in OSU’s introductory astronomy courses, advanced astrophysics courses, astrophysics research, and for public educational outreach and observing parties. 

Observatory dome and Sun (photo credit: Kim Zoldak)OSU’s observatory offers a unique opportunity that is unmatched by many other universities across the United States—the ability for students to observe and study the wonders of the universe at their own hands. This will attract future generations of bright and inquisitive cowboys and cowgirls to OSU. With your help, we can restore one of the most remarkable resources that OSU has to offer its students.

We are already in the process of working with Optical Guidance Systems--the telescope company that will be doing the upgrades and repairs--and hope to have the observatory up and running again by April of 2023

If you are interested in helping out the Mendenhall Observatory in a bigger way, please contact Laura Ketchum at the OSU Foundation ( 

Thank you for your gracious donation!



Brief History of OSU’s Mendenhall Observatory

The Mendenhall Observatory was established in 2001 Observatory dome and Moon (photo credit: Timothy Cole)with a 14-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain optical telescope. In 2007, the observatory upgraded to the current 24-inch Ritchey-Chrétien optical telescope, which became the largest and most advanced telescope within a 300-mile radius. This telescope was optimally designed for astrometry, photometry, and multicolor imaging of a whole slew of astronomical objects, such as planets, near-Earth asteroids, star clusters, nebulae, transiting exoplanets, galaxies, and quasars. In 2017, the observatory grounds were upgraded to include a temperature-controlled telescope control building, which allows students to observe on-site and provides a public restroom for community star parties. The Mendenhall Observatory is named for Dr. Harrison Shepler Mendenhall, Oklahoma State University's very first astronomer. 


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Year Established

Make a donation to honor the year the Mendenhall Observatory was established.


In Memory of or to Honor

Make a donation in memory a loved one or to honor someone special in your life.


Years since first Astronomer

Dr. Mendenhall was the first Astronomy professor ever hired by OSU. He started at OSU 85 years ago, in 1937. OSU's observatory is now named after him.


Years since OSU founding

Your gift will honor the 132 years since Oklahoma State University was founded. OSU was founded on Christmas Day in 1890.


Invention of the telescope

Your donation of $414 will celebrate the number of years that have passed since the telescope was invented. In 1608, the telescope was invented by a spectacle maker named Hans Lippershey. One year later, in 1609, Galileo Galilei built his own telescope and became the first person to point a telescope toward the night sky. With his telescope, he proved that the Sun was at the center of our Solar System, not the Earth.


Year OSU hired Dr. Mendenhall

In 1937, Oklahoma State University hired its very first astronomer, Dr. Harrison Shepler Mendenhall, namesake of the Mendenhall Observatory.

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