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Ortega Observatory

Ortega Observatory

Experience the Radiance of the Ortega Observatory: Where Science Meets Inspiration!

Under the visionary leadership of Dr. Luis Quiroga-Nuñez, the Ortega Observatory has undergone a profound metamorphosis into a premier hub for astrophysical exploration, a beacon of knowledge for the Florida Tech community, and a shining light of outreach for the Space Coast citizens of Florida. Teaming up with NASA Kennedy Space Center, we are forging a strategic alliance aimed at nurturing the next generation of American scientists, with a focused educational thrust toward Florida Tech.

Our observatory stands as a testament to impactful research, educational excellence, and community engagement, weaving together a tapestry of scientific discovery and wonder. Explore our transformative initiatives below.


The research conducted at the Ortega observatory spans a vast spectrum of cosmic exploration, encompassing the fields of astronomy and astrophysics, heliophysics, planetary science, and astrobiology. Through interdisciplinary collaboration and cutting-edge research methodologies, this observatory contributes to humanity's collective understanding of the cosmos and our place within it. 

Astronomy & Astrophysics

Astronomy and astrophysics encompass the study of celestial objects and phenomena beyond Earth's atmosphere, delving into the origins, evolution, and properties of galaxies, stars, planets, and cosmic structures. This interdisciplinary field employs a combination of observational and theoretical methods to unravel the mysteries of the universe, probing fundamental questions about its composition, dynamics, and fate. From the exploration of distant galaxies and the discovery of exoplanets to the investigation of black holes and the nature of dark matter and dark energy, astronomy and astrophysics continually push the boundaries of human understanding, offering insights into the profound workings of the cosmos and our place within it.

Researchers working this filed:


Heliophysics is the interdisciplinary scientific field that explores the dynamic interactions between the Sun and the space environment, including the Earth and other planetary bodies. By studying phenomena such as solar flares, coronal mass ejections, solar wind, and magnetic fields, heliophysicists seek to understand how the Sun's activity influences space weather and impacts technological systems, satellite communications, and astronaut safety. Through a combination of observational data, theoretical modeling, and advanced instrumentation, heliophysics illuminates the fundamental processes driving solar variability and its cascading effects throughout the solar system, providing crucial insights for both space exploration and Earth-based applications.

Researchers working this filed:

  • Dr. Jean Carlos Perez, Associate Professor, Physics and Space Science Program Chair, Aerospace, Physics, & Space Sciences
  • Dr. Sofianne Bourouaine, Assistant Professor, Aerospace, Physics, & Space Sciences
  • Juan Carlos Palacios, Ph.D., Research Scientist, Department of Aerospace, Physics & Space Sciences

Planetary Sciences

Planetary science is a multifaceted discipline dedicated to the study of planets, moons, asteroids, comets, and other objects within our solar system and beyond. It encompasses a wide range of scientific inquiries, including planetary formation, geology, atmospheres, climates, and potential for life. By combining data from spacecraft missions, telescopic observations, laboratory experiments, and theoretical models, planetary scientists seek to unravel the complex histories and dynamics of celestial bodies, shedding light on their origins, evolution, and potential habitability. From the exploration of Mars and the icy moons of Jupiter to the investigation of distant exoplanets, planetary science offers profound insights into the diversity and interconnectedness of worlds across the cosmos.


Astrobiology is an interdisciplinary field that explores the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe. By integrating knowledge from astronomy, biology, chemistry, geology, and planetary science, astrobiologists seek to understand the conditions and processes that give rise to life on Earth and potentially elsewhere in the cosmos. Key research areas include the study of extremophiles on Earth, the search for habitable environments in our solar system and beyond, the detection of biosignatures in exoplanetary atmospheres, and the exploration of the potential for life beyond Earth. Through a combination of theoretical models, laboratory experiments, field studies, and space missions, astrobiology aims to address one of humanity's most profound questions: are we alone in the universe?


Southeastern Association for Research in Astronomy (SARA)

Florida Tech is the founding institution for the Southeastern Association for Research in Astronomy (SARA). We have a 15% share in a network of three 1-meter class telescopes on the Canary Islands, at Kitt Peak National Observatory, and Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory.

Newly Established Course: Astrochemistry CHM 4305, CHM 5112, SPS 4201, SPS 5088

Students in the course will learn about the origin of chemical elements, chemical composition, and reactions that create and modify the chemical landscape in diverse space environments. Students will learn to apply different spectroscopic and modeling techniques to understand space chemistry.

Observatory Renovations

Repair and Upgrade of Ortega 0.8-m Telescope: This large research telescope forms the heart of the F.W. Olin Observatory. Installed in 2007, the Ortega Telescope sits on the rooftop of the F. W. Olin Physical Sciences Center. Equipped with a large-format CCD imaging system, lucky imager and spectrograph. 

Classroom Turned Control Room (before and after)



Public Science Lectures

Ortega Lectureship

  • Spring 2024 - Nour E. Rawafi
    • Extreme Exploration: Going Above and Beyond in Unraveling
      the Mysteries of the Sun and its Environment
    • Dr. Nour E. Rawafi, Parker Solar Probe Project Scientist
      Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland, USA

  • Fall 2023 - Dan Werthimer 
    • Is Anybody Out There? The Search for Extraterrestrial Civilizations
    • Dr. Dan Werthimer, Berkeley SETI Research Center Chief Scientist, SETI@home co-founder, CASPER Principal Investigator
      Astronomy Dept and Space Sciences Lab, University of California, Berkeley, USA

S3 Student Organization

The Ortega Observatory is home to the newly established Florida Tech student organization S3. With a focus on Space Sciences, the club consists of three committees: Student Astronomical Society (SAS), Society of Physics Students (SPS), and Students for Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS). For more information:

Workshops and Other Projects:

  • Partnership with NASA/Kennedy Space Center to obtain new equipment (look for details in the near future!)
  • History of Space Art Collection: Collections of over 150 NASA printed images, cataloging the history of space photography.
  • 3D Printing Planet: Collaboration with CAMID to provide accessible learning of planetary bodies.
  • Teacher Summer Camp
  • Student Work Shops: Undergraduate Preparation for Graduate School
  • SEFS (Scientists in Every Florida School)

Donation Page & Socials

Want to support us? 

Visit Panther Fund and search for 'Ortega Observatory' under "What would you like your donation to support?"

For more information regarding the Ortega Endowment, visit our donation page!

Keep up with us in Social Media





Ortega Observatory

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