Observatories and Early Astronomy Clubs

Observatories and Early Astronomy Clubs

Interest in astronomy was strong, so setting up telescopes in public was regularly done. Today, these events are usually called star parties, where the public is invited to come to a park, museum, or other site to look through telescopes often staffed by amateur astronomers. Perhaps, one of the best known of these groups is the San Francisco Sidewalk Astronomers, started by the late John Dobson.

On forty-second street in New York, Joseph G. White shows the new comet or the planets through his 4 ½ inch refracting telescope.
Sidewalk Astronomy, New York 1921 Telescope on sidewalk by Unknown is in the Public Domain

Many astronomy clubs, colleges/universities, museums/science centers, and even private individuals have observatories: a permanent housing for their telescope or telescopes. A number of these open for the public on regular occasions, or for special astronomical events like an eclipse or when a planet is in the position for optimum viewing.

The dome and building which houses the 20-inch refractor “Rachel” at the Chabot Space and Science Center, Oakland, CA is shown.
The dome and building which houses the 8-inch refractor “Leah” at the Chabot Space and Science Center, Oakland, CA. Chabot Dome by Don DeBold is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The 20-inch Refractor “Rachel” at the Chabot Space and Science Center is shown.
The 20-inch Refractor “Rachel” at the Chabot Space and Science Center. Rachel by Don DeBold is licensed under CC BY 2.0