Detroit Observatory - History
"The Detroit Observatory, named in honor of major donors from Detroit, was the centerpiece of President Henry Philip Tappan's efforts to transform the University of Michigan into one of the first research universities in the United States. Tappan recruited Franz Brünnow, a German astronomer, as the first director of this early scientific laboratory. The building stands today essentially as it was in 1854. The dome turns manually by means of a rope pulley, and the original astronomical instruments remain intact and operational, including the meridian circle and the refrating telescopes, which in their day were among the largest in the world. In 1973, the Detroit Observatory was listed in the National Register of Historic Places for its significance in science, education, and architecture."
Among the Observatory's credits, it is
- The first observatory established in the State of Michigan, and third to the Loomis Observatory (1838) and the Cincinnati Observatory (1843) in the Midwest;
- The second oldest extant building at the University;
- The oldest campus building in its original unaltered form;
- The University's first dedicated scientific research laboratory, led by Michigan's first faculty member to hold the Ph.D. degree, Franz Brünnow;
- The most important physical legacy of the University's early scientific preeminence;
- The site where numerous significant scientific discoveries were made, including 21 asteroids (minor planets) and two comets;
- The site where the longitude of Ann Arbor was first established in 1861;
- The training ground for many prominent astronomers of the 19th century;
- The home of the first scholarly journal published by the University: Astronomical Notices, created and edited by Franz Brünnow;
- Repository of the oldest, large objective telescope lensmade by Henry Fitz that has not been refigured;
- Repository of the 1854 Pistor & Martins meridian circle telescope, the oldest intact instrument of its type in America;
- Listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1973;
- One of the most perfectly preserved buildings of its era.