Mount Cuba Astronomical Observatory


The inspiration to establish Mt. Cuba Observatory was the knowledge that one of the world's greatest astronomers, Miss Annie Jump Cannon, was a native of Delaware. Founded as a non-profit organization in 1958, plans were developed to build a facility to support a 61-centimeter (24-inch) Cassegrain telescope being constructed by Tinsley Laboratories. In September 1963 the Observatory opened and included a library, workshop, and photographic darkroom. The F. G. du Pont wing, added to the Observatory in 1973, expanded the facility by adding a lecture room, planetarium, and a second observing dome to house the Observatory's 11.5-centimeter (4.5-inch) refracting telescope. In 1987 the Observatory was further expanded with the addition of a computer room and storage area. As Delaware's only public observatory, Mt. Cuba offers astronomers, guests, and members many resources including:

  • A Spitz SciDome all-digital planetarium where groups of 25 people can observe the motion of the stars and planets, learn about the constellations and view the many wonders of the universe.
  • A Library containing hundreds of textbooks, handbooks, periodicals, star charts, photographic atlases, and catalogs.
  • A Computer Room to support the Observatory's computers, which communicate with other observatories, universities, and astronomical facilities.
  • A Lecture Hall seating forty-five people for meetings and Public Night presentations. Audiovisual equipment includes a computer plus a variety of projectors (computer video, overhead, film, and slide).
  • A Work Shop includes all tools necessary to maintain the Observatory's telescopes and their accessories, as well as the observatory facility itself.


The general public is invited to visit the Observatory for informal programs of general interest on selected Monday nights. Short illustrated discussions are presented on various astronomical topics followed by a tour of the facilities. On some evenings the Observatory's planetarium is available for special presentations. When sky conditions permit, guests are invited to view the planets, moon, or other objects of special interest through the 4.5" F. G. du Pont refracting telescope. As parking and lecture hall seating is limited, admission is only by prior reservation.

Attendance by preschool children is not encouraged for safety and other considerations. Program schedules are readily available upon request. A map of the Observatory location will be mailed upon request. Admission fees are $3 for adults and $2 for children. There is no admission fee for members although reservations are required. Interested individuals and groups may contact the Observatory's secretary (654-6407) any weekday morning before noon to obtain a current schedule, program information, or to make a reservation.


This group of amateur astronomers maintains a 12.5" Newtonian telescope a short distance from the main Observatory building. Monthly meetings are usually held at the Observatory except during the months of July and August. In an effort to promote astronomy, members routinely host Sky Parties at Mt. Cuba or at area parks or schools where member's telescopes may be set up for general public use. The Delaware Astronomical Society provides a unique opportunity for the novice to become introduced to casual astronomical observing. Anyone with a general interest in astronomy is invited to contact the Observatory for additional information on whom to contact for membership information and a schedule of coming events.


The observatory welcomes the opportunity to host any group interested in astronomy. Both Technical and Educational Associates are available to provide informal discussions on many astronomical subjects. Visits may be arranged for either day or evening hours depending on Observatory availability. School groups, science clubs, Scout troops, and other organizations of modest size are easily accommodated, interested parties may contact the Observatory to obtain additional information or schedule a visit.


The Mount Cuba Astronomical Observatory, Incorporated, is a private, nonprofit, all volunteer, educational institution supported by donations from individuals, foundations, and corporations. The Observatory's charter describes the organization's mission as the advancement and promotion of the study, observation, and appreciation of the sciences of astronomy, astrophysics, and the related space sciences. For this purpose, the Observatory provides facilities, guidance, and inspiration for astronomical study and research to people of all ages and levels of skill. Interest in, as well as an appreciation of the universe around us, is nurtured through many astronomical activities. Observatory programs are designed to awaken and develop an individual's interest in science and technology, especially astronomy and the space sciences. Routine observatory activities include observation, study, and astrophotography of the moon, planets, stars, nebulae, and other deep space objects. Observatory volunteers routinely participate in international projects and studies. Day and night the Observatory is a busy place. Students and faculty members carryout a varied list of assignments and research projects through a close working relationship with the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Delaware.

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Last revised: September 3, 2019