Detroit Observatory

Detroit Observatory, ca. 1858
University of Michigan Detroit Observatory,
Original edifice, ca. 1858

In 2005, the Detroit Observatory became a division of the Bentley Historical Library. 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.

Today, the building stands essentially as it was in 1854. The original astronomical instruments remain intact and operational, including the 6-inch Pistor & Martins meridian circle and the 12 5/8-inch Henry Fitz, Jr. refracting telescopes, which in their day were among the largest in the world. The dome is turned manually by pulling a continuous rope.

Completely restored in 1998, the Observatory is a cultural treasure waiting to be explored. The Observatory is open twice a month for tours.

Stop in and learn more about the fascinating history of the Observatory and its significance to the University of Michigan!

Visiting & Activities

Video (U-M "Out of the Blue" segments

History