Here Are Seven Observatories in Michigan to Whet Your Appetite for Space
With all of the incredible images from NASA and the James Webb Space Telescope coming out this week, it's safe to assume that we've all got a little bit of "Space Fever." How could you not, looking at those amazing photos of the universe!
As a kid, we would look to the cosmos and wonder what was out there. Some of us even got the chance to pursue that dream, and work for NASA. Others, kept their work on the ground, and studied the stars from observatories - of which, Michigan has plenty that you might be able to visit and see the stars up close and personal, yourself.
Detroit Observatory - Ann Arbor
This domed telescope is located in Ann Arbor and is one of the oldest observatories of its kind in the nation. It was also the first scientific research facility at the University of Michigan. It's been listed on the Michigan State Historic Registry since 1958, and the Fitz Refracting Telescope inside was the third-largest of its kind in the world when it was installed in 1857. That telescope alone is responsible for discovering more than 20 asteroids, and three comets.
The public can take part in Astronomy Nights just about every Friday, among other astronomy events you can find on their website.
James C. Veen Observatory - Lowell, MI
This observatory is owned and operated by the Grand Rapids Amateur Astronomical Association, formed by enthusiastic individuals, and led by businessman James C. Veen in 1955. The group participates in public education activities at various spots around the Grand Rapids area. They open the Veen Observatory to the public twice a month, except in the winter. If you'd like to become a member of the GRAAA, you can be trained for free on the various telescopes in the observatory.
You can also bring your own observation equipment and set them up on the grounds of the observatory.
MSU Observatory - East Lansing, MI
This observatory is owned and operated by Michigan State University, and is part of the south campus. The Telescope has been in operation since 1970. Recently, the observatory was temporarily closed to the public for some updates, but in March of this year, public events returned with one weekend every month. You can follow their twitter account to see when the next event is.
J.H. Rogers Observatory - Traverse City, MI
Named for Northwestern Michigan College instructor Joseph H. Rogers, this observatory is located near Traverse City, and was completed in 1981. It was constructed completely with public donations secured by Rogers. It holds regular public viewing nights, as well as special viewings for exceptional events in space, such as the Hale-Bopp and Hyakutake Comets in 1996. The observatory hosted one of its largest crowds in 2003 when Mars made its closest approach to Earty in 50,000 years.
Public viewings are still available at the Observatory. Visit their website for a schedule.
Angell Hall Observatory - Ann Arbor, MI
Another observatory owned and operated through the University of Michigan, Angell Hall is on the university's central campus, and is run by the Student Astronomical Society. The group holds regular public viewings, but also holds events in their planetarium.
Sherzer Observatory - Ypsilanti, MI
Located on the Easter Michigan University campus, this observatory was established in 1903 after a tornado destroyed the original, however, it TOO was badly damaged in a fire in 1989, and refurbished, and re-opened in 1991 with a brand new, apochromatic refractor telescope. In 2008, a second observatory with automated imaging was added to the roof.
They, too, have public observation events, which you can find on their Astronomy Club Page.
Fox Park Public Observatory - Potterville, MI
The Eaton County Parks Department owns and operates this one, and is mostly run by local amateur astronomers. It's one of the newest observatories in Michigan as well, built in 1991 in Fox Memorial Park. The observatory has a number of public viewing dates, as well as Star Parties, and an open observatory room. You can also bring your own equipment out to the observatory for your own search through the stars.
Public events are listed on their website.