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Who We Are


(Site is generally updated by 6pm the night of the observing session)
Please use your best judgement - if it is cloudy or raining we cannot open

Van Vleck Observatory, Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT
Hosted by volunteers from the Astronomical Society of Greater Hartford
Sponsored by
 the Astronomy Department, Wesleyan University
Join us for a look through the 20"-inch telescope.  All who come will have an opportunity to see through the eyepiece, weather permitting.
We will be viewing prominent objects in the night sky such as the moon, globular clusters, planets, nebula or galaxies.  The objects viewed will change each month, or even during your visit.

Please note that should the weather not permit observing (due to clouds, high wind, or threat of precipitation) the sessions will be cancelled. Cancellation notices will be posted on this web site by 6pm the day of the observing event. Please be sure to press the "refresh" button on your browser to make sure you are viewing the most up-to-date version of the page.

If you'd like to be automatically notified by email when sessions have been scheduled (or cancelled), please check out
Or send an empty email to

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Scheduled Public Observing Next Date
Note EST Opening Time Change
April 25, 2015 ~ 9 - 11 PM

20-inch Clark restoration project

To donate, send a check made out to Wesleyan University to: Linda Shettleworth, Astronomy Department, Wesleyan University, 96 Foss Hill Drive, Middletown, CT 06459

Important: On the check please indicate "For the Use of the Astronomy Department"

All donations are tax deductible and you will receive an acknowledgment and receipt valid for a tax exemption. We will also soon have a Web site dedicated to the restoration and Centennial celebration. We will be scheduling events for the Spring of 2016 in connection with the Observatory Centennial. Donors to the project will be invited to an event in their honor and also publicly acknowledged on a Web site. If anyone wishes to remain anonymous we will, of course, respect that.

Click Here for Before and After Images of Restoration Project

Scheduled Public Observing Dates for 2014

Note the start time change to 8 pm in November.
Open time will change to 9-11 pm beginning in April. 


Next Months Sessions:
9-11 pm



8 pm to 10 pm except where noted

January 24, 2015

February 21, 2015 (Van Vleck Crater night – start at 7 PM)

Daylight Savings Time Schedule Begins
Open Time changes to 9 – 11 PM

March 21, 2015

April 25, 2015

May 23 and 24, 2015
(Commencement coverage on the 23rd – Public Night on the 24th )

June 20, 2015

July 18, 2015 (possible Van Vleck crater night)

August 8, 2015

September 19, 2015

October 17, 2015

Change to EST 8 pm to 10 pm

November 6 and 7, 2015
(Wesleyan Homecoming 6th and Public Night on the 7th)

December 5, 2015






For parking please note that we are NOT permitted to park at the observatory building on observatory hill. Please use Lot V on Vine Street and walk up the hill to the observatory.
Click here for a campus map 

John A. Sillasen Chairman, 20" committee - email to

The Van Vleck 20-inch refractor


Dedicated in 1916 this telescope was not installed until 1922.  The Alvan Clark company received the glass from a German manufacturer later than expected due to the war.  The telescope has a focal length of 27' 6". The initial research program pursued on the 20" refractor, by then-observatory director, Frederick Slocum, was "the determination of the distances to the stars." The Astronomical Society of Greater Hartford provides programs in public viewing as well as aiding the astronomy department for other public events.


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