The old University of Illinois Observatory, which contains a 12" Brashear refractor, was built in 1896. Although the telescope has long since been rendered obsolete for research purposes, it has a long history of astronomical research under its belt. In particular, observers at the University of Illinois did extensive work with early photoelectric devices in the early 20th century -- a major step forward in quantitative measurements of stellar properties.
University of Illinois alumnus Mike Svec has compiled an extensive history of the observatory building and the instruments it has housed.
None of the instruments in the observatory building are being used for research. Currently, the 12" refractor is being used principally by two groups: (1) astronomy classes at the University, which use the telescope as a teaching instrument, and (2) members of the University of Illinois Astronomical Society (UIAS), a student organization on campus.
The Astronomy Department and the UIAS invite you to step in and around the observatory --- if only via the Web -- through this page.
Because of recent (summer/fall 1996) renovations to the dome, some of the features and objects displayed in this page have changed markedly since some of these photos were taken. In particular, the interior walls in the dome room have been stripped and repainted.
The stars are back! Club members painted new patterns on the dome walls.
All photographs copyright © 1996, 1997, David Nash.