Campus Observatory

The University of Illinois Observatory is a great place to look at the night sky and to hear about new astronomical results.   The University of Illinois Astronomical Society (UIAS) has run open houses at the observatory for decades.   It is free to attend on the second Friday of every month (times depend on the season).   Go to the UIAS calendar site for more info. 

If you want to request a private tour of the Observatory for a group or an outreach opportunity, please contact the UIAS at this email:

The University of Illinois Observatory was constructed in 1896. It stands on South Matthews Avenue in UrbanaChampaign County, Illinois. The observatory was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 6, 1986 and on December 20, 1989, the U.S. Department of Interior designated the observatory a National Historic Landmark.[1] Though none of the astronomical instruments are being used for professional research today, the observatory still contains a 12" Brashear refractor. The observatory played a key role in the development of astronomy as it was home to a key innovation in the area of astronomical photometry. The facility has been directed by such noted scientists as Joel Stebbins and Robert H. Baker.[2]

University of Illinois Observatory, image credit:Dori

Erected in 1896 at the behest of the Illinois General Assembly, the University of Illinois Observatory became important in the development of astronomy due, in large part, to pioneering research by Stebbins, from 1907 to 1922.[1] Joel Stebbins left the University of Illinois in 1922 but left behind a legacy of discovery that helped alter the face of modern astronomy. The building, itself, is in a traditional observatory design, Colonial Revival style, following a T-plan. The dome rises 35 feet (11 m) in the air.[3]The building served the University of Illinois astronomy department from its opening until 1979, when the department moved into a new, larger building to house its growing staff.[4]

In 2013 and 2014, the telescope and the dome were refurbished. Below are some photos of Sept. 2014 work. Image credit: Judy Whittington






  1. University of Illinois Astronomical Observatory, NHL Database, National Historic Landmarks Program. Retrieved April 28, 2007.
  2. University of Illinois Observatory Building -- A Virtual Tour, University of Illinois Astronomy Department, October 2, 2000, University of Illinois. Retrieved April 28, 2007
  3. University of Illinois Observatory, Astronomy and Astrophysics, November 5, 2001, Online Books, National Park Service. Retrieved April 28, 2007
  4. Nash, David. History of the University of Illinois Observatory and 12" Refractor, University of Illinois Astronomy Department, January 20, 1997 University of Illinois. Retrieved April 28, 2007

Text Credit: University of Illinois Observatory - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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