The 19th-century Cincinnati Observatory Center is a charming place to learn about the sky with high-powered telescopes and weekly stargazing sessions run by astronomy experts. Take in the rings of Saturn and the craters of the moon through one of the oldest continuously used telescopes in the United States. Daily tours provide a glimpse of the inner workings of the old building.
Astronomical enthusiast Ormsby McKnight Mitchel raised the funds to build the Cincinnati Observatory in 1842. The cornerstone was laid on top of Mount Ida (now Mount Adams). In 1873, the observatory moved to its current location atop Mount Lookout and in 1997 it was listed as a National Historical Landmark.
Weekly Astronomy Nights feature a 30- to 40-minute presentation, followed by a stargazing session through one of the antique telescopes. The smaller 11-inch (28-centimeter) telescope, known as the Merz and Mahler (its makers), was first used in 1845. The newer of the two telescopes dates from 1904 and features a slightly bigger lens. Both are refracting telescopes, with a lens focusing light through a hollow tube. Find the moon, planets, nebulas and double stars, and even the occasional comet.
Try stargazing at Stonelick Lake, 23 miles (37 kilometers) east of Mount Lookout. Every clear-skied Saturday around the night of a new moon, the Friends of the Observatory hosts a free event during which you can look through a range of different telescopes.
The Cincinnati Observatory Center is a short drive east of downtown Cincinnati and there’s free parking. There’s an uphill walk from the nearest bus stop to the observatory, which is open on most Thursday and Fridays nights throughout the year.
On cloudy nights, expect a historical tour of the observatory instead of stargazing. This is an interesting tour of the building that offers an explanation of how the telescopes work. Even on clear nights, building tours are available on the second and fourth Sunday of every month.
Reservations are required for Astronomy Nights. On Thursdays a donation is suggested, while on Fridays you are required to pay a small fee.
This vacation home is located in Cincinnati (Hyde Park), close to Cincinnati Observatory Center, Ault Park, and Rookwood Commons. Local attractions also include Walker Park and Cincinnati Aviation Heritage Society Museum.
Located in Norwood, this hotel is within 2 mi (3 km) of Rookwood Commons, Drake Planetarium, and Cincinnati Observatory Center. Madison Bowl and Ault Park are also within 3 mi (5 km).
This vacation home is located in Cincinnati (Hyde Park), close to Rookwood Commons, Cincinnati Observatory Center, and Drake Planetarium. Also nearby are Madison Bowl and Ault Park.
This aparthotel is located in Cincinnati (Norwood), close to Rookwood Commons, Drake Planetarium, and Cincinnati Observatory Center. Also nearby are Madison Bowl and Xavier University.
Situated in the suburbs, this hotel is close to Madison Bowl, Cincinnati Observatory Center, and Ault Park. Local attractions also include Rookwood Commons and Indian Valley Golf Course.
Situated in Cincinnati, this motel is 0.8 mi (1.4 km) from Madison Bowl and within 3 mi (5 km) of Rookwood Commons and Drake Planetarium. Cincinnati Railway Company Dinner Train and Cincinnati Observatory Center are also within 3 mi (5 km).
Situated in Cincinnati, this hotel is 1.2 mi (1.9 km) from Madison Bowl and within 3 mi (5 km) of Cincinnati Railway Company Dinner Train and Drake Planetarium. Rookwood Commons and Cincinnati Observatory Center are also within 3 mi (5 km).