The Cincinnati Observatory Center

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The official logo of The Cincinnati Observatory Center
The Cincinnati Observatory Center is one of the most unique astronomical institutions in the United States. It is a fully functioning 19th century observatory used daily by the public and amateur astronomers, civic organizations, teachers and students, history buffs and science mavens.

Located atop the rolling hills of Mt. Lookout, the Observatory is home to the world's oldest telescope still in use nightly by the general public. Two handsome National Historic Landmark buildings and the beautiful grounds provide a serene, park-like setting while still being centrally located in the city of Cincinnati.

Experience one of the most awe-inspiring centers in the region. Become a member and help us maintain an important part of Cincinnati's and the nation's scientific and architectural heritage.



Memberships and donations are what keep this an active and vibrant Cincinnati institution since our founding.

In 1842, individuals and families invested $25 to acquire the old telescope and have made a lasting impact for 8 generations in our community. That same telescope, is used on a daily basis to “WOW” school students and adults with the wonders of the universe. 21st century visitors to the Observatory can’t help but marvel at the beauty, and elegance of the machinery and the architecture of the timeless buildings. Please join us as a member of the Cincinnati Observatory and help make the telescopes and the grounds available for the next 8 generations.

Awards and Recognition

Clubs and Certification Programs

Looking for a unique place to visit with your scout troop? Looking for a program that fulfills your badge requirements? Looking to, well... LOOK through a giant telescope? The Observatory has you covered.

You have several options depending on the size of your group and your schedule. See below for the various scout programs available at the Observatory:

1) Basic Tour and View (For Girl Scouts, Cubs Scouts, and Boy Scouts) This private program is geared just for your troop and includes a presentation by an astronomer, a hands-on tour of the historic buildings, and viewing through the oldest telescope in the country (weather permitting). These programs run rain or shine and can be available Monday-Wednesday nights or Monday-Thursday afternoons. Afternoon programs view the Sun (instead of the planets) using safe solar filters. This is perfect for a group of between 15-35 kids and adults.

This 1-hour program costs $7/adults, $5/kids with a minimum of $100 per group. Reservations are required, generally 1-2 months in advance.

2) Private Badge Program (Cub Scouts) These more in-depth programs provide Cub level boy scouts with a unique stargazing experience that fully completes the requirements of the relevant astronomy badge or pin. Activities include hands-on lessons on constellations, moon phases, and more, plus constellation stargazing and telescope viewing (weather permitting). These programs run rain or shine and can be available Monday-Wednesday nights. This is also perfect for groups of between 15-35 kids and adults.

This 2-hour program costs $7/person with a minimum of $150 per group. Reservations are required, generally 1-2 months in advance.

3) Scout Merit Badge Nights (Cub Scouts) These one-evening programs are great for small troops and individual scouts who are looking to completely fulfill their astronomy badge requirements (plus they're on Saturdays). Reservations are required for the program dates listed below. Please note that multiple troops may attend the same program; Individual scouts may sign up as well. Parents or troop leaders are expected to stay and participate. Maximum registration for each date is 35 participants (adults included). You need only attend one of the dates listed.


The Cincinnati Observatory provides cutting edge science education. If you can't visit the Observatory we can come to you. Our Outreach Program has delivered hundreds of programs to area schools, scout meetings, libraries, and nursing homes. An astronomer can visit your class, lead fun and in-depth professional development for your teachers, and delivers hands-on, inquiry-based programs that meet academic content standards. We can also bring telescopes for safe viewing of sunspots and solar flares or even lead a star party at your place.

We will work actively to design a program that is right for your class. Program descriptions of our most popular programs are listed below. However, we can customize any program to your astronomical needs.


Reasons for the Seasons - 1 23.5 degree tilt makes all the difference between winter and summer. The Earth has a slanted view of the universe and you will discover how the angle of the Sun's rays cause Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter.

The Sun - The mass and energy of the Sun are astronomical. Using a portable solar projector, your class can safely take a closer look for sunspots and other solar activity. We will also discuss the Sun's nuclear explosions and their impact on Earth.

Moon phases and eclipses - Moon phases are perhaps the most difficult astronomical phenomenon for students to understand. With the assistance of a half-painted soccer ball, 30 moons on a stick, a 150-watt light bulb, and some great simulation software, your students' will sure to become luna-tics.

The Planets and their Orbits - The solar system is constantly changing and we can keep you up to date. Utilizing the latest images from NASA we will share the canyons on Mars, the giant hurricane on Jupiter, and the rings of Saturn while demonstrating their pathways around the Sun.

Day, month, year, cycles - This program will make you dizzy. In Cincinnati we rotate at 770 mph and revolve around the Sun at 66,000 mph. This constant movement provides us some very observable cycles. We will get your students up and moving - and hopefully not nauseous.

Stars and Constellations - There are more stars in the sky than you can ever count. But you'll see that finding your way around the sky has never been this fun. Combining astronomy with memorable ancient myths, this program will encourage your students to research and write about the constellations. Have you heard the story of Orion?

Comets and meteors - Stuff hitting the Earth always fascinates students. We can make a comet right in your classroom and bring actual meteorites for close inspection. Students will learn about their structure, parts, and orbits while being able to touch a rock from space.

Tour of the Universe - Rocket through space among billions of stars and galaxies. This program tackles the life cycles, and types of stars and galaxies as well as the distances to these interstellar objects. Students will discover how much we have learned from telescopes and where their place is in the universe.

Aliens - Is anyone out there? Delve into the scientific hunt for life on other planets. How would we send a message? How would we understand their message? The truth is out there.

Outreach fees start at $100 for the first presentation, $50 for each additional presentation on the same day. Assembly programs start at $250. Mileage charges apply for programs outside the Cincinnati area

Evening Star Parties - Want to see into space for yourself? We can bring portable telescopes to your location for nighttime viewing programs. You can take a close-up look at the Moon, planets, stars and more!

External Links

The Cincinnati Observatory Center Website

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