Public Observing at Washburn

PLEASE NOTE:  Update 5/11/15:  The Washburn dome is still undergoing repairs and cannot be operated safely. We are currently working to secure funding for repairs which would resolve the problems at Washburn while maintaining the historical integrity of the structure. Until the dome is fixed we are happy to offer public observing on the lawn in front of Washburn with a smaller, portable telescope. As staffing permits we may also conduct tours of the historic Washburn telescope. 

Currently, public observing will be on the first and third Wednesday of each month. Check the Washburn Twitter Feed for current status.

We also invite you to attend public viewing sessions at Space Place, the education and public outreach center of the UW Astronomy Department. Vewing sessions are held on their roof top deck on the 3rd Friday of each month.

The UW-Madison Astronomy Department offers free public observing at Washburn Observatory every 1-2 weeks throughout the year. The Open House sessions are hosted by UW astronomy graduate students. The public viewing sessions are informal, so there is no lecture or tour.

The dome is open to the outside air so dress appropriately. Food and drinks, as well as flash photography are not allowed in the observatory.

The status of the upcoming Washburn Observatory Open House is displayed in the Washburn Twitter Feed, which is usually updated approximately 30 minutes before the scheduled start time of the session.

Please also note the free public observing opportunities offered through our Universe in the Park program and through UW Space Place.


Unfortunately, to preserve the original character of Washburn, the telescope is not handicap accessible and is only reachable by climbing a flight of stairs.

UW-Madison Astronomy Home