Observatory Facts



  • Observatories are special places where astronomers study space and, to give the best view of the night sky, most are built on mountain tops far from city lights.
  • One of the largest observatory complexes is 4200 m above sea level, in the crater of the Hawaiian volcano, Mauna Kea.
  • In most observatories, telescopes are housed in a dome-roofed building which turns around so they can keep aiming at the same stars while the Earth rotates.
  • The oldest existing observatory is the Tower of the Winds in Athens, Greece, which dates from 100Bc.
  • In the imperial observatory in Beijing, China, there are 500-year-old bronze astronomical instruments.
  • One of the oldest working observatories is London’s Royal Greenwich Observatory, founded in 1675.
  • The highest observatory on the Earth is 4300 m above sea level, at Denver, Colorado, in the USA.
  • The lowest observatory is 1.7 km below sea level, in Homestake Mine, Dakota, USA. Its ‘telescope’ is actually tanks of cleaning fluid which trap neutrinos from the Sun (see cosmic rays). 176
  • The Tower of the Winds observatory in Athens, Greece — the world’s oldest existing observatory.
  • The Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona, USA.
  • The first photographs of the stars were taken observatories rely on photographs rather than
  • The first photographs of the stars were taken observatories rely on photographs rather than in 1840. Nowadays, most eyes are on the astronomers in 1840.