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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 the telescope.
We will be available to work with you on how to setup your telescope or to just talk astronomy and observing.

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

February 6, 2016 8-10 PM - Public Night!
Celebrating Frederick Slocum's Birthday!

Save the date!  StarConn is June 18, 2016
Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Van Vleck Observatory!

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 2016 

Note the start time change to 8 pm in November.
Open time changes to 9-11 pm from April to October. 


Next Months Sessions:
8-10 pm




January 9, 2016

February 6, 2016

March 12, 2016

April 2, 2016

May 7, 2016 - Special Mars Night

May 14, 2016 (Moon & Mars Night)

May 20, 2016 - Wesleyan Commencement Observing

June 18, 2016 - StarConn

June 25, 2016

July 30, 2016

August 27, 2016

September 24, 2016

October 21 - HomeComing

October 22 - Public Night/HomeComing

November 5, 2016

December 3, 2016





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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