UVa College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

History of the Leander McCormick Observatory



When Thomas Jefferson designed the University of Virginia, he intended it to include an observatory and a center for astronomical study. While Jefferson did not see those plans come to fruition during his lifetime, in 1877 Leander J. McCormick donated a 26-inch telescope to the University, and an observatory, which now bears the name of its benefactor, was built to house it on Mount Jefferson. In addition, there have been smaller telescopes used for astronomical observations and other devices stored at the observatory including an impressive array of astrometric instruments. In over a century of operation, the McCormick Observatory and its publications have recorded countless observations and contributions to astronomical science. Its success has been due to the large number of talented astronomers to work at the University of Virginia, and the history of the Observatory is as much their story as it is that of the building that sits atop Mt. Jefferson.


History of the Observatory




Other Astronomers