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Steve Chaplin
IU Communications

Last modified: Friday, March 16, 2012

Historic Kirkwood Observatory renews weekly stargazing open houses

March 16, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University's historic Kirkwood Observatory begins its annual season of free stargazing open houses for the public on Wednesday, March 21, with a "rain or shine" evening of night sky viewing, infrared camera demonstrations and some hands-on time with meteorites.

Kirkwood Observatory

Indiana University's historic Kirkwood Observatory will begin its annual series of weekly open houses March 21.

Print-Quality Photo

The season of Wednesday evening public viewing sessions begins at 9 p.m. March 21 and will run through Wednesday, Nov. 14, when star viewing will begin at 6:30 p.m. The observatory is closed each year during the winter because of the inclement weather and the unheated space of the dome, and closing may occur during the viewing season on cloudy viewing nights.

Due to daylight saving time in Indiana, the sky will not be dark enough for observing with the telescope until late in the evening, so viewing times will run from 9 to 11 p.m. on Wednesdays until April 11, when hours will run from 9:30 to 11:30 p.m. These are the earliest possible hours to still have the sky dark enough to view with the Kirkwood telescope, and by May 9, viewings will begin at 10 p.m., moving to 10:30 p.m. June 20. Start times again become earlier in 30-minute increments beginning July 18. The observatory will be closed for the July 4 holiday.

The observatory -- built in 1900 just northeast of the corner of Fourth Street and Indiana Avenue at the wooded edge of campus -- plus Kirkwood Avenue and Kirkwood Hall are all named for Daniel Kirkwood, the renowned astronomer who spent more than 30 years at IU before his death in 1895.

A complete list of viewing schedules and weather closings at the observatory is available online, or call the observatory hotline at 812-855-7736. You can also follow the observatory's tweets here. To receive a monthly announcement about Kirkwood Observatory events, subscribe to the observatory's Astronomy List Server by sending an email to Group showings are also available by contacting the IU Astronomy Department at 812-855-6911 or by sending an email to

For more information, please contact Steve Chaplin, IU Communications, at 812-856-1896 or