University of Illinois Observatory Collection

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The Observatory’s origins were as a teaching facility. Although it status as a National Historic Landmark grew out of its use for pioneering research and instrument development, the Observatory continues into the 21st Century as a teaching facility.  The instruments, furniture and other historic fabric of the Observatory has over the years has never been fully inventoried as a historic collection. The Department of Astronomy moved from the Observatory in 1979 and then again in 1994 to a new building.  With each move some of the equipment and historic fabric was dispersed. Recognizing the value for instruction as well its’ historical significance, this inventory is the first step in locating, assessing, organizing, and ultimately preserving the Observatory’s collection.  The inventory is needed to help protect the collection from unintentional loss, damage, or neglect, ensure its preservation, and plan for its instructional use. 

Recently Added Items

Astro-Camera 220 and Duetron double eyepiece

Unitron camera

Wooden box (9 ½ x 7 x 7) with hinge lid, three 2-sided film holders. It takes 2 ¼-inch by 3 ¼-inch glass plates or sheets of film. An air-operated…

Rumford Medal

Rumford Medal

Gold medallion in 3.5 inches square leather case with green velvet. interior. Metal approximately 3 inches diameter, made of gold. Front contains left…

24 ft Dome and transit house shutter tracings


Three tracings by Warner and Swasey for the University of Illinois.

1) 24 ft. Dome section, tracing B2860, dated April 21, 1896. Stamped with…

Post card 'View of South Campus University of Illinois'


Color postcard from 1914 showing the south campus. Taken from University Hall looking south. Burrill Avenue is under the trees long the center right.…