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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

July 30, 2016 9-11 PM - Public Night
~Note the June 25th session has been cancelled
due to construction~
~ Note the Time Change ~

Save the date!  StarConn is June 16, 2016 in conjunction with:
Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Van Vleck Observatory!

The Van Vleck Observatory Centennial Symposium:
A Celebration of Astronomy at Wesleyan University

The Symposium is to be held on June 16, 2016 , 100 years to the day of the original dedication of Van Vleck Observatory. The registration fee is $50 and includes lunch, a reception at Van Vleck Observatory, dinner and evening observing with the restored 20-inch Clark refractor, weather permitting. In addition to the talks and panels there will be a brief re-dedication ceremony, period music, costumed visitors from the past, a celebratory "special brew", and other delights. Don't miss it! The format of the sessions is also intentionally open and we will welcome contributions and reminiscences from all who attend.

The Centennial Web site  provides additional details about the program and other events connected with the Centennial. A block of rooms is being held at the Inn at Middletown but space is limited, so book early. Call the hotel directly at (860) 854-6300 and mention the Van Vleck Observatory Centennial Symposium to get the group rate. 
The preregistration deadline is June 1. For your convenience, here is a direct link to the  Registration page .

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:
9-11 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 16, 2016 - StarConn/100thAnniversary of Van Vleck Observatory Symposium - Note this is a Thursday

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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