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The UGA Observatory

Director Dr. Robin Shelton


The University of Georgia owns one of the largest visible light telescopes in the state. The main component of the telescope is its 24 inch wide primary mirror, which is mounted in the much larger support and steering structure shown in the photo.

When the telescope and observatory dome were built in 1959, telescopes were moved manually to observe any part of the sky above the horizon. Since the Earth's rotation causes a stationary viewer to see an ever-changing portion of the sky, the telescope has a small motor to move it so it can track the stars. Over time, motors were installed that allowed the telescope to be pointed under computer control. The red cylinders on the telescope support structure in the photo are two motors and the cables strewn about the telescope carry electricity to the various motors and sensors that drive and point the telescope.

The telescope and observatory require near-constant maintenance.

  • The telescope's electronics were overhauled in 1996 and again, most recently in 2008.
  • The observatory dome was repainted in 2016.
  • The mirrors were cleaned and re-aluminized in 2019.
  • The telescope was repainted in 2019, although the photo shows it before repainting.

Our grateful thanks go to those who provided funding to repair the telescope during the Great Recession and to the UGA Instrument Shop who performed those repairs. A permanent Observatory repair fund has been established for future critical repairs during difficult budgetary periods

If you are interested in visiting the telescope, please see our Observatory Open House webpage. In addition to the Open House events, we provide daytime tours for organized groups, such as school groups. For more information, contact us by e-mail.

The UGA Observatory is located on top of the Physics Building on the UGA campus.


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