Public Observing at Washburn

PLEASE NOTE: Due to a failed mechanical system of the 130-year-old dome, Washburn Observatory is closed until further notice.  We hope to begin reassembly in the upcoming weeks and hope to soon become operational again.  We apologize for the inconvenience.  Please montior this website for current status information.

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.

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