Rivers Foundation for the Arts and Sciences (3RF™) is
a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Crowell, Texas.
3RF works alongside educators and community leaders
for the advancement of nature, art, and science education
among the public and students.
currently building a 50-acre, dark-sky campus called
Comanche Springs Astronomy Campus (CSAC), a 15 mile drive west of Crowell, Texas.
It will be the location of the 15” D&G Refractor
and other astronomical observatories including those
for advanced imaging applications, visual observing,
and amateur research. In the works are plans
for an amphitheater, a conference center, a Native American
Tee-pee village, nature trails, camping and lodging.
D&G ACHROMATIC REFRACTOR
15” D&G achromatic refractor
made it’s long journey from its former home
at Pettinger-Guiley Observatory in Washington
to its new home at 3RF. The 19 ft. long
instrument required a few strong backs and
a large trailer for the ride. Undoubted
the largest such instrument in the region,
the refractor will soon find its station
in a specially domed observatory at the
Comanche Springs campus, where it will enjoy
dark skies and anxious eyes! “First
light” for the giant refractor should take
place sometime in mid-to-late 2005.
Update for Comanche Springs...
3RF is making
rapid progress in the development of its 50 acre, dark
sky campus west of Crowell, Texas.
Security fences and
utilities have been laid, as has gravel for the main
access road to
the site. A new entrance gate to the property
makes the campus easier to locate. Six RV slots
have been constructed for RV campers and three large
restroom/shower trailers are on-site for, well, you
A 8000 square foot
Welcome Center (WC) has been the first priority for
construction, but as of March, 2006, the WC is temporarily
delayed due to escalating construction costs. However,
the 28.5' Ashdome observatory for the 15"
achromatic refractor is under way, including a multi-purpose
classroom extension. The extension will allow
for temporary respite for weary astronomers, not to
mention allowing space for classroom-sized groups.
The construction of
three other robotic, domed observatories and a larger
roll-off roof observatory have begun as well. The
three domed observatories, collective coined the "Comanche
Domed Center" or CDC, will consist of two 15 ft.
and one 10 ft. Technical Innovations Pro-Domes housing
an incredible array of equipment. The smaller
10 ft. dome will house 3RF's current 12.5" RCOS
RC and Paramount ME for astronomical CCD imaging with
large format SBIG research-grade cameras. One
of the 15 ft. domes will be equipped with 3RF's 8"
TMB apochromatic refractor and AP 1200 mount for both
visual and imaging applications. The remaining
15 ft. dome is being designed as a dedicated solar observatory
and will house a custom-made Stellarvue SV-152 refractor
with a Coronado Solar Max 140mm hydrogen-alpha filter,
as well as a white-light solar scope and Coronado CaK
70mm scope, all on an AP 1200 mount. Each of the 15
ft. observatories will have the capabilties of robotic
control for remote imaging, but will be also used for
public observing and research.
The large roll-off
roof observatory will house several of the 3RF Obsession
dobsonian scopes for public events, allowing shelter
from the wind.
of three such instruments being built for
3RF by Bruce Sayres, the 22" binoscope
utilizes two 22" Swayze mirrors to
yield unparalleled views of the night sky.
Because of the complexity of setup
and operation, a special roll-away observatory
is being designed by Bruce himself for use
at CSAC. Pictured above is the
initial setup of the instrument at CSAC.
From left to right are Dave Titus
(FWAS), 3RF Executive Director Larry Smith,
Bruce Sayres, and John Rudd (TAS).
3RF recently took
delivery of it's first 22" Sayre's Binoscope, an
amazing instrument that will require it's own roll-away
building observatory. This building is being designed
by Bruce Sayre's himself and construction should begin
once the plans are complete.
of the Welcome Center is delayed until 2007, the completion of
this first "observatories" phase will allow dark sky access for amateur
astronomers and as a center for educational use.
Further plans are
tentative at this time, though future phases are likely
to include dormitories for group
What 3RF means
With over a quarter
of a million dollars worth of astronomy equipment and
a centralized, dark sky site, the Three Rivers Foundation
will soon be providing astronomical observing, imaging,
science and education for those who have an interest
3RF has in its collection
some of the largest and most advanced telescope equipment
available to the amateur astronomer, from the largest,
privately owned collection of Obsession Dobsonian telescopes
to the amazing 25 x 150mm Fujinon binoculars. In
fact, 3RF can provide telescopic views through equipment
as large as 30”! Likewise, you shouldn't
miss the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the heavens
through one of the largest refractors in the South,
the recently acquired 15” D&G achromat (see picture
above). Other equipment includes Tele
Vue and Takahashi refractors, the 8" TMB apochromatic
refractor, SBIG imaging CCDs, Coronado H-Alpha Solar
filters/scopes, and several Skyrover Starchairs...and
this merely scratches the surface of the equipment that
3RF currently owns.
But because the Three
Rivers Foundation wants to be available to those who
can't make the drive to Comanche Springs, 3RF has made
available the 3RF StarSTruck™ to deliver the show
to you! Schools, Universities, Astronomy clubs
- any group that is interested in Astronomy education
- can call 3RF for assistance with their programs. These
mobile "observatories" will service the entire
North Texas area, and perhaps as far south as Austin.
here to read the 3RF Event Blog