The UBC Liquid-Mirror Observatory


The UBC Liquid-Mirror Observatory was established in 1995 to facilitate the development and testing of liquid-mirror telescope technology. Located on a hill top in the UBC Malcolm Knapp Research Forest, it overlooks British Columbia's Fraser Valley. The 400 metre altitude of the site places it in clear, undisturbed, air which provides the best image quality. Although the observatory is conveniently located within a 90 minute drive of UBC, it is sufficiently far from the lights of Vancouver to allow observations of distant galaxies to be made.

Site Information  


49 deg 17 min 17 s North


122 deg 34 min 23 s West 


395 m

Average seeing 

1 arcsec

Sky Brightness

estimated V mag. = 20

The Observatory Structure

The observatory building is a wood-frame structure reinforced by steel beams. It is built upon a concrete foundation atop a granite outcrop. The walls support a steeply pitched roof which rolls back to expose the telescope to the sky. The moving portion of the roof weighs six tonnes and is driven by a 1 hp motor.  It takes about five minutes to fully open and close. A massive 7 x 7 meter concrete floor one meter thick provides a very stable platform for the telescope. This floor is bolted directly to the bedrock. Isolation joints between the floor and walls prevent vibrations caused by wind from reaching the telescope. The height of the building is approximately 12 metres. The telescope and instrumentation in the main observatory building is controlled from a small room located at the front (South side) of the observatory. A separate small building houses an air compressor.

Current Instrumentation

The observatory houses the Large Zenith Telescope, presently under construction. The 6-metre diameter primary mirror of this telescope will make it one of the largest optical telescopes in the world, and the largest to use liquid-mirror technology.

Picture Gallery


LMT home

Last updated: 1999/11/13