A laboratory is a construct you create so as to produce reproducible measurements.

Los Alamos National Laboratory Credit: Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Virtual Astronomical ObservatoryEdit

"In order that the [Virtual Astronomical Observatory] VAO would be seen as an entity that is of and for the research community, a dedicated not-for-profit company was established to manage the governance and business functions."[1]

"The U.S. Virtual Astronomical Observatory (VAO; [...] goal is to enable new science through efficient integration of distributed multi-wavelength data."[1]

Automated telescopesEdit

The image shows the dome open and the automated telescopes of the Okno system. Credit: apparently, US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
This image shows the Okno system towers at sunset. Credit: apparently, US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Here is the control base at Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Credit: apparently, US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
The United States counterpart to the Okno system is GEODSS at Diego Garcia. Credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. John Rohrer.

The top image at right shows the cupola or dome open with the automated telescopes visible of one of the Okno towers.

The Russian Okno system, four towers are at left, is an optoelectronic system for monitoring and surveillance of space objects integrated to the KRONA system of space recognition.

The installation, at lower right, is located in the mountains near Dushanbe, Tajikistan and Nurek Dam at an altitude of 2,200 meters, approximately latitude 38.280833 ° N longitude 69.224722 ° E.

It is a unique facility equipped with telescopes and radar control capable of tracking space objects orbiting the Earth at an altitude of 2,000 to 40,000 km.

The Okno system is fully automated, performs autonomous control sessions in real time and can only work at night, the role of the center is particularly important in emergency situations, such as a loss of communications with an artificial satellite.

At lower left is an image of the US counterpart, the Ground-based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance (GEODSS) base at Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory latitude 7.41173°S and longitude 72.45222°E.

Cosmic raysEdit

This shows the Multi Mirror Telescope at the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory in 1981. Credit: Happa.{{free media}}

The Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory is an astronomical observatory owned and operated by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) [with r]esearch activities [that] include imaging and spectroscopy of extragalactic, stellar, and planetary bodies, as well as gamma-ray and cosmic-ray astronomy.

The Pierre Auger Observatory is an international cosmic ray observatory designed to detect ultra-high-energy cosmic rays: single sub-atomic particles (protons or atomic nuclei) with energies beyond 1020 [electronvolt] eV (about the energy of a tennis ball traveling at 80 km/h). These high energy particles have an estimated arrival rate of just 1 per km2 per century, therefore the Auger Observatory has created a detection area the size of Rhode Island — over 3,000 km2 (1,200 sq mi) — in order to record a large number of these events. It is located in western Argentina's Mendoza Province, in one of the South American Pampas.

The basic set-up consists of 1600 water tanks (water Cherenkov Detectors, similar to the Haverah Park experiment) distributed over 3,000 square kilometres (1,200 sq mi), along with four atmospheric fluorescence detectors (similar to the High Resolution Fly's Eye) overseeing the surface array.

Observation platformsEdit

The observation platform at the Munich Public Observatory provides a splendid view of the city of Munich and the Alps. Credit: Munich Public Observatory.
The telescope is within the rectangular black hole on the side of the C-141A KAO aircraft. Credit: NASA.
The SOFIA observatory is flying with 100% open telescope door. Credit: NASA.

Both astronomers and the general public who enjoy and support most astronomical observatories take advantage of observation platforms.

"The 300 square meters sized observation platform [at the Munich Public Observatory shown at right] is located at an altitude of 35 meters above street level and provides a splendid view over the city of [Munich] and the Alps. Two telescope domes [and] two smaller huts, housing the large telescopes are located here. In addition to these the visitors can use a series of smaller, portable telescopes."[2]

An airborne observatory is an airplane or balloon with an astronomical telescope. By carrying the telescope high, the telescope can avoid cloud cover, pollution, and carry out observations in the infrared spectrum, above water vapor in the atmosphere which absorbs infrared radiation.

The Gerard P. Kuiper Airborne Observatory (KAO) was a national facility operated by NASA to support research in infrared astronomy. The observation platform was a highly modified C-141A jet transport aircraft with a range of 6,000 nautical miles (11,000 km), capable of conducting research operations up to 48,000 feet (14 km). The KAO was based at the Ames Research Center, NAS Moffett Field, in Sunnyvale, California. It began operation in 1974 as a replacement for an earlier aircraft, the Galileo Observatory, a converted Convair CV-990 (N711NA).

The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) ... is based on a Boeing 747SP wide-body aircraft that has been modified to include a large door in the aft fuselage that can be opened in flight to allow a 2.5 meter diameter reflecting telescope access to the sky. This telescope is designed for infrared astronomy observations in the stratosphere at altitudes of about 41,000 feet (about 12 km). SOFIA's flight capability allows it to rise above almost all of the water vapor in the Earth's atmosphere, which blocks some infrared wavelengths from reaching the ground. At the aircraft's cruising altitude, 85% of the full infrared range will be available.[3] The aircraft can also travel to almost any point on the Earth's surface, allowing observation from the northern and southern hemispheres.

Theoretical laboratoryEdit

Def. "a room, building or institution equipped for scientific research, experimentation or analysis"[4] is called a laboratory.


Laboratory conditions are often expressed in terms of standard temperature and pressure.

Standard condition for temperature and pressure are standard sets of conditions for experimental measurements established to allow comparisons to be made between different sets of data. The most used standards are those of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), although these are not universally accepted standards. Other organizations have established a variety of alternative definitions for their standard reference conditions.

In chemistry, IUPAC established standard temperature and pressure (informally abbreviated as STP) as a temperature of 273.15 K (0 °C, 32 °F) and an absolute pressure of 100 kPa (14.504 psi, 0.986 atm, 1 bar),[5] An unofficial, but commonly used standard is standard ambient temperature and pressure (SATP) as a temperature of 298.15 K (25 °C, 77 °F) and an absolute pressure of 100 kPa (14.504 psi, 0.986 atm). The STP and the SATP should not be confused with the standard state commonly used in thermodynamic evaluations of the Gibbs free energy of a reaction.

"Standard conditions for gases: Temperature, 273.15 K [...] and pressure of 105 pascals. The previous standard absolute pressure of 1 atm (equivalent to 1.01325 × 105 Pa) was changed to 100 kPa in 1982. IUPAC recommends that the former pressure should be discontinued."[5]

NIST uses a temperature of 20 °C (293.15 K, 68 °F) and an absolute pressure of 101.325 kPa (14.696 psi, 1 atm). The International Standard Metric Conditions for natural gas and similar fluids are 288.15 K (59.00 °F, 15.00 °C) and 101.325 kPa.[6]

Warm roomsEdit

The image shows a workstation for the Heinrich Hertz Submillimeter Telescope. Credit: GreatInca.

“With the increasing use of computers and CCD cameras, it is very advantageous to incorporate a 'warm room' into the observatory structure to keep the computer warmer than ambient air in cool seasons.”[7]

Observation roomsEdit

This is the observation room of the 150-Foot Solar Tower Observatory on Mt. Wilson. Credit: Davefoc.{{free media}}

On the right is an image of the observation room for the 150-Foot Solar Tower Observatory on Mt. Wilson.


This is the dome of the Zeiss telescope at Merate Astronomical Observatory, Merate (LC), Italy. Credit: CAV.

Most optical telescopes are housed within a dome or similar structure, to protect the delicate instruments from the elements. Telescope domes have a slit or other opening in the roof that can be opened during observing, and closed when the telescope is not in use. In most cases, the entire upper portion of the telescope dome can be rotated to allow the instrument to observe different sections of the night sky.

The domes of observatories, such as in the image at right, and the objects inside used to observe and control these observatories are made of chemicals.

Control roomsEdit

This a panorama of the 90-inch telescope's control room, Kitt Peak National Observatory, Arizona, USA. Credit: General Epitaph.
This is the Table Mountain Observatory control room for observing with the 0.6m telescope. Credit: NASA.

Def. a room serving as the centre of monitoring a building, controlling an operation etc is called a control room.

Conference roomsEdit

A conference room may be used for seminars, a lounge, presentations, or festivities and includes a bar. Credit: Munich Public Observatory.

The Munich Public Observatory "50 square meters sized conference room is equipped for multi-purpose use with a variable number of seats and a bar. We use it for seminars and as a lounge for our club members."[2]

Lecture roomsEdit

The lecture room of the Munich Public Observatory has 64 seats and a wide range of equipment for presentations. Credit: Munich Public Observatory. Credit: Munich Public Observatory.

The Munich Public Observatory "lecture room has 64 seats and a wide range of equipment for presentations: Slide-, video-, LCD- and overhead-projectors and a large screen with the dimension of 3 x 2.5 m. Lectures can be transmitted to our conference room."[2]

Equatorial roomsEdit

This equatorial room is at the University of Illinois Observatory. Credit: Dori.{{free media}}

An equatorial room, in astronomical observatories, is the room which contains an equatorial mounted telescope. It is usually referred to in observatory buildings that contain more than one type of instrument: for example buildings with an "equatorial room" containing an equatorial telescope and a "transit room" containing a transit telescope.[8] Equatorial rooms tend to be large circular rooms to accommodate all the range of motion of a long telescope on an equatorial mount and are usually topped with a dome to keep out the weather.


In addition to observatories, this aerial view shows outbuildings, including the Observatory Control Room building, on the main platform’s front edge. Credit: ESO/G.Hüdepohl (

The shapes and sizes, as well as functions, of particular observatories have changed over time.

An instrument, or a collection of them, with outbuildings for such things as control centres, data reduction centers, and maintenance are called observatories, such as radio observatories.


A typical tape measure with both metric and US units is shown to measure two US pennies. Credit: Stilfehler.

Def. any act of quantifying relative to a standard is called a measurement.


The Boston University Astronomy library supports programs in both astronomy and astrophysics. Credit: Boston University.{{fairuse}}
Cambridge Observatory Library of The Institute of Astronomy Library is located in the main rooms of the Cambridge Observatory building. Credit: Mark Hurn.{{free media}}
Library of Van Vleck Observatory is part of Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, USA. Credit: Joe Mabel on Flickr as Joe Mabel from Seattle, US.{{free media}}

"The Astronomy Library supports programs of study in both astronomy and astrophysics and is used by the Astronomy Department, the Center for Space Physics and the Institute for Astrophysical Research. Named for Professor Michael D. Papagiannis in recognition of his 30 years of service to Boston University, this collection includes books in all areas of the field, current journals, and a comprehensive collection of sky atlases and maps."[9]

The image on the right shows reading tables and a portion of the stacks. The images on the left and center show the main reading rooms of the Cambridge Observatory Library and Van Vleck Observatory Library of Wesleyan University, respectively.


This is an image down the spiral staircase to the old viewing room of the United States Naval Observatory. Credit: MBisanz.
The staircase to the observation platform and telescopes of the Munich Public Observatory. Credit: Munich Public Observatory.

The staircase or stairwell to an observation platform or a telescope provides an excellent spiral wall to exhibit images and photographs from completed and ongoing research.

At right is the spiral staircase to the old viewing room of the United States Naval Observatory.

Left is the staircase for the observation platform at the Munich Public Observatory.

Machine shopsEdit

An astronomy machine shop is occasionally shared with physicists. Credit: Michigan State University.

"Our objective is to design, build, and maintain the highest quality research and teaching instruments, while always keeping finished cost to a minimum and safety to a maximum."[10]

"I asked him where he had it made, he said he made it himself, & when I asked him where he got his tools said he made them himself & laughing added if I had staid for other people to make my tools & things for me... I had never made any thing..."[11]

Exhibition hallsEdit

The exhibition hall of the Munich Public Observatory is imaged. Credit: Munich Public Observatory.

"There is a scaled model of the solar system in the 40 square meters sized exhibition hall [of the Munich Public Observatory]. A mini-planetarium demonstrates the orbits of Earth and Moon. With our spatial model the positions of the stars in the universe can be easily understood. Astronomical information is shown on large boards."[2]


In the Munich Public Observatory planetarium, a Zeiss projector creates an impressive view of the night sky. Credit: Munich Public Observatory.
The Minsk planetarium in the Central Children Park is imaged. Credit: EugeneZelenko.

"In [the Munich Public Observatory] planetarium with 32 seats a Zeiss projector creates an impressive view of the night sky, independent of the weather or time of day, which in nature could only be seen under the best weather conditions. The constellations and the movement of the sun, moon and planets can be clearly demonstrated and these important aspects of the science of astronomy can be easily explained."[2]

At left is the exterior structure for the Minsk planetarium.


  1. A laboratory can be set up in virtual space to test reality for reproducibility.

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 G. Bruce Berriman; Robert J. Hanisch; T. Joseph W. Lazio; Alexander Szalay; Giuseppina Fabbiano (September 2012). The organization and management of the Virtual Astronomical Observatory, In: Modeling, Systems Engineering, and Project Management for Astronomy V. 8449. SPIE. pp. 9. doi:10.1117/12.926605. ISBN 9780819491503. Retrieved 2013-12-10. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Munich Public Observatory (December 12, 2013). About Us - Portrait of the Observatory. Munich, Deutschland: Munich Public Observatory. Retrieved 2013-12-12. 
  3. Alfred Krabbe (March 2007). SOFIA telescope, In: ‘’Proceedings of SPIE: Astronomical Telescopes and Instrumentation’’. Munich, Germany: SPIE — The International Society for Optical Engineering. pp. 276–281. 
  4. laboratory. San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. September 21, 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-30. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Alan D. McNaught; Andrew Wilkinson (1997). Compendium of Chemical Terminology, The Gold Book (2nd ed.). Blackwell Science. ISBN 0-86542-684-8. 
  6. Natural gas – Standard reference conditions (ISO 13443). Geneva, Switzerland: International Organization for Standardization. 1996. 
  7. John Hicks (2009). Building a Roll-Off Roof Observatory: A Complete Guide for Design and Construction. New York: Springer. p. 17. doi:10.1007/978-0-387-76611-9_1. ISBN 978-0-387-76603-4. Retrieved 2012-05-16. 
  8. "The CHABOT Observatory" Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Vol. 6, No. 35, p.85
  9. Mary Foppiani (October 23, 2013). About the Astronomy Library. Boston, MA: Boston University. Retrieved 2013-12-12. 
  10. Astronomy machine shop (December 12, 2013). Department of Physics and Astronomy Machine Shop. Lansing, Michigan USA: Michigan State University. Retrieved 2013-12-12. 
  11. Isaac Newton; recorded by his niece's husband, John Conduitt (August 31, 1726). Isaac Newton's recollection. Cambridge, UK: King's College. Retrieved 2013-12-12. 

External linksEdit

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