Leander McCormick Observatory

The University of Virginia operates the McCormick Observatory, located on the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA. The observatory was constructed after a gift from Leander J. McCormick to build one of the largest telescopes in the world. The 26-inch astrometric refractor was the second largest telescope in the world when it was dedicated on April 13, 1885 (Thomas Jefferson's Birthday). The telescope was the primary research instrument for the department until the 1960's and was used for astrometry into the 1990's. In recent years, however, extensive hardware upgrades and instrumentation efforts have transformed the observatory into a more modern facility capable of optical CCD imaging and spectroscopy in conjuction with courses, and public outreach programs. Currently, most of the department's local research has moved to the Fan Mountain Observatory, south of Charlottesville.

More detailed information about the telescope and available instrumentation can be found by following the links below.



0.67-meter (26-inch) Alvan Clark Refractor:

The telescope is an astrometric refractor, originally given to the University as a gift by Leander J. McCormick and dedicated in 1885. The telescope was the primary research instrument and used for astrometry into the 1990's. In recent years, however, extensive hardware upgrades and instrumentation efforts have transformed the observatory into a more modern facility (while still preserving the historical integrity of the observatory) capable of optical CCD imaging and spectroscopy in conjuction with courses, and public outreach programs.

Instrument Capabilities





0.3-meter (10-inch) Meade LX-200 Reflector

The University of Virginia operates a modern 10-inch (0.25-meter) Meade LX200 Schmidt-Cassegrain. The telescope is housed in the doghouse and is used for educational purposes in support of both astronomy classes and public outreach activities.



0.15-meter (6-inch) Alvan Clark Refractor

The University of Virginia operates a historical brass 6-inch (0.15-meter) Alvin Clark refractor. The telescope is housed in the doghouse and is used for educational purposes in support of both astronomy classes and public outreach activities.