Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Cincinnati Observatory

 It isn't particularly easy to find. I plugged "Mt. Lookout" into Google Maps and Tom and I drove around the Mount Lookout neighborhood for some time. We didn't see a thing. That's because it isn't there.

 Instead I should have searched for "Cincinnati Observatory". Google quickly placed the red push pin just to the west of Ault Park. And there, indeed, it was.

It's called "The Birthplace of American astronomy" and indeed its roots date to the 1840's. That's when the German telescope was installed at Mount Adams. But soon coal smoke and the industrialization of Cincinnati obscured the sky at this site. The telescope, according to an article in CityBeat, "was moved to a more remote, rural area for optimal viewing in 1873".

 Two original cornerstones tell the tale ...

Originally at Mount Adams, the location was named for John Quincy Adams who dedicated the observatory in 1843. Now at Mount Lookout, two of Cincinnati's seven hills are named for the location of this telescope.

 Nowadays, I suppose Cincinnati's lights are the main problem and the site is hardly "rural". But it is, at least, high.

The Cincinnati Observatory 

 The main building of the Cincinnati Observatory is quite impressive.

 This building dates to 1873. The older telescope is actually housed in a smaller building on the grounds. This building houses a telescope purchased in 1904. Neither were open while we were there.

 It's a stately old building, having weathered 143 years at this location.

 Tom - and me, too - found the old pine as beautiful (maybe more so) as the building itself.

 This view is through a rear window of a relatively small telescope on display there.

 This building houses the original telescope. The optics for this scope were obtained from Munich, Bavaria by Ormsby MacKnight Mitchel. It was then the second largest refractor telescope in the world.

O. M. Mitchel Building 

Mitchel (1809-1862) died while serving in the Civil War. His telescope is still in daily use, according to the Ohio Historical Society. It is, they say, "the oldest such instrument in the United States".

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