During the observatory's early years, it was used for research by both members of the Wittenberg community and from nearby Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Now it is primarily used as a teaching aid in the university's astronomy classes and for stargazing enjoyment activities.
The building measures 38 feet by 44 feet and is topped with a copper dome which is 22 feet in diameter. Including the dome and observation deck, there are three working floors inside the observatory. The entry-level floor houses includes several office and meeting spaces, a clock room that houses the observatory's sidereal clock, also called a star clock, and a meridian transit telescope. This telescope was originally used to record the exact transit times of stars. Positioned along the north-south longitude line that passes through the building, a scope like this can be used to obtain extremely accurate measures of the latitude and longitude of the observatory.
The basement was designed to be a computational laboratory; and it previously served as lab space for the Department of Psychology. Originally equipped with a darkroom for film developing and glass plate photography, this area was ideally suited for the photographic needs of the era. A small library and museum in the basement housed information about astronomy history.
The observatory's main attraction, however, is the dome. Beneath it is the university's main observational instrument— a telescope with a 10-inch refractor lens. The refractor was placed in the observatory in the spring of 1931; however, the 10" objective lens, cast by the Carl Lundin Co., was probably completed up to a year earlier. The telescope was refurbished in 2003, with careful attention paid to preserving the vintage instrument.
7 West Campus Dr.
Springfield, OH 45504