GNTO is really a story about community, rather than just about telescopes and viewing dark skies.
It's a story about the community sharing its treasures and resources so that the whole community
continues to grow. It's a story about Lt Col Bill Isengard, USAF (Retired) sharing a wonderful
telescope and land being donated in honor of a father.
Around 1980 Wilma Isengard made a suggestion to her husband, Bill, an amateur astronomer, that has
had a profound and long lasting effect on The Albuquerque Astronomical Society.
In August 1997 the area to the south of the Observatory was graded and graveled, providing a safe,
level observing area.
In January 1998 the lower floor of the dome building was rebuilt, insulated and painted.
In the spring of 1998 the Isengard telescope was renovated by removing two finder scopes and numerous
counter-weights. The "new" lighter telescope was rebalanced on the rotating rings and freshly polar
aligned, while the finder scopes were later converted into loaner telescopes for use at GNTO.
In August 1998 Theodore Schuler-Sandy, a Boy Scout with Troop 444 choose GNTO as the venue for his
Eagle Scout Project. Theodore managed 59 volunteers over a three-day period to enhance the viewing
area with concrete pads, paint the observatory, and add picnic and lecture areas to the site.
The end of 1998 saw the replacement of the Isengard rotating rings, the installation of a manual
shutter control system, and the anonymous donation of the Astrophysics refractor.
In February 1999 Energia Total Ltd installed the solar electric power system. This 20 kw photovoltaic
(PV) power system was funded through a grant from Public Service Company of New Mexico. GNTO was the
first site to receive funds from the Enchantment Energy Trust - part of PNM's "green energy initiatives."
In 1999 additional major improvements included a manual crank system for dome rotation, new decking and
paint for the upper dome level, additional grading and graveling of the GNTO grounds, enhancements to
the Isengard drive motor and NGC-MAX, acquisition of high quality eyepieces, and installation of donated computers and associated software.
In October 2000 the Robert O. Ortega Building (ROOst) was constructed by TAAS members.
In the fall of 2001 the Imaging Dome was installed. It was donated by the Air Force Research Laboratory.
In the summer of 2014 the La Cocina Galactica was installed. The building was purchased. TAAS members completed the interior and installed the heater, cabinets, sink, and oven.