Explore the Night Sky at Leander McCormick Observatory

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leander mccormick observatory

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For a fun date night or evening out with friends, go stargazing in Charlottesville at the Leander McCormick Observatory. Leander J. McCormick donated the Observatory to the University of Virginia in 1885. Once considered the second-largest telescope in the world back in 1885, the Leander McCormick Observatory is an impressive astronomical piece of equipment. Up until the 1960s, the telescope was the primary research instrument for the university’s Department of Astronomy. The telescope was mainly used for astrometry going into the 1990s, and has been modernized in recent years. Now, it is mainly used for public outreach programs and course study.

McCormick Observatory Public Night Program

Interested in visiting the Leander McCormick Observatory Museum? You have the opportunity to use the telescope on the first and third Friday of every month. In addition to using the 26-inch McCormick Refractor, you can also use small telescopes to view celestial objects in the night sky. Additionally, you can view astronomy exhibits and listen to presentations by astronomers. The McCormick Observatory is open from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. during Eastern Standard Time. Hours change during daylight savings time to 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Each year, the observatory receives over 4,000 visitors including 2,000 local school kids.

Friends of the McCormick Observatory

If you have a passion for astronomy and want to support the observatory, you can join the Friends of the McCormick Observatory.  The non-profit membership-based organization helps the Department of Astronomy promote educational and outreach activities. With membership options ranging from $35.00 for an individual to $2,500 for a trustee membership, you can help support the program and development of the McCormick Observatory.  

Located on Observatory Hill on the University of Virginia’s campus, the Leander McCormick Observatory gives Charlottesville residents the opportunity to both explore the night sky, and learn more about the expansive universe above us.

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