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The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum opens new Public Observatory on the Mall in Washington, D.C.

The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum has opened a new Public Observatory that contains a 16-inch, 3,000-pound Boller and Chivens telescope, on loan from the Harvard College Observatory. Through this powerful telescope, museum visitors can now observe the sun (with a special filter), the moon and the brighter stars and planets, such as Venus, Jupiter and Saturn, during daylight hours. Funding for the project was provided by the National Science Foundation.


Photo: Air and Space Museum visitors view celestial objects in the daytime sky at the museum’s new Public Observatory on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Eric Long)

The Public Observatory, on the East Terrace of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., is open to the public Tuesdays through Sundays, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., weather permitting. It will also be used for educational programs in combination with live presentations in the museum’s Einstein Planetarium.

“The National Air and Space Museum’s mission is to educate and inspire,” says Gen. J.R. “Jack” Dailey, director of the museum. “Looking directly at the sun, moon, planets and stars with a telescope will enable visitors to experience this personal connection with the visible sky and the universe.”

The National Air and Space Museum building on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is located at Sixth Street and Independence Avenue S.W.


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  • joseph caruso

    I showed thousands of people of all ages the night sky through this telescope frpm 1989 to 2005; glad that it is still being used but it would be nice if some program could be developed that could utilize it at night.

  • What a great idea, and such a poor implementation, with the observatory open from 10 AM to 2 PM. This is an astronomical observatory closed at night! Not even open in early evening. Such a waste of taxpayers money.

  • John W. Knesevich,M.D.

    What a great idea! I’ve looked through this scope when it was at the site in Harvard,Mass. While it was not the best scope in the world, optically speaking,it is a great introduction to observing the sky.

  • Tom M

    A great idea has been born. Clear skies to all of you. Go Katie.

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