Public Observing at Washburn

UPDATE 5/11/15:  The Washburn dome is still undergoing repairs and cannot be operated safely. We are currently working on repairs which would resolve the problems at Washburn while maintaining the historical integrity of the structure. For more detailed information, please view this June 21, 2015 CAPITAL TIMES article.

PLEASE NOTEUntil the dome is fixed we are offering 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. 


The UW-Madison Astronomy Department offers free public observing at Washburn Observatory on the first and third Wednesday of each month, and every Wednesday June through August, weather permitting. 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 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.

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.

Please also note the free public observing opportunities offered through our Universe in the Park program and through UW Space Place, the education and public outreach center of the UW Astronomy Department.


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