Brooks Astronomical Observatory

Constructed in 1964, Brooks Hall and the astronomical observatory located on its roof were named in honor of astronomy professor Kendall P. Brooks, who taught at Central Michigan University from 1910 until 1947.

Each year the facility serves nearly 500 students in introductory observational astronomy courses as well as a large number of individuals from the general public who attend regular observatory open house sessions.

Brooks Hall Astronomical Observatory includes a fully automated retractable dome that protects a 16-inch (40.6-cm) telescope used by faculty members and students each semester as part of their astronomy studies. Manufactured by DFM Engineering, the computer controlled Cassegrain reflector can be pointed to any place in the sky with very high accuracy along with interchangeable instruments optimized for either imaging or spectroscopic observations, or it can be used for basic visual observations.

Adjacent to the dome is an outdoor observation deck used for naked-eye or small-telescope viewing. Observatory open houses are normally held once a month throughout the year, whether cloudy or clear, beginning in the fall semester. Contact the CMU physics department at 989-774-3321 for a complete schedule of dates and times.

A distant view of Brooks Hall Astronomical Observatory during the daytime.

Open houses

The Brooks Astronomical Observatory will hold public Open House nights once again this semester. The dates are below. Open House nights are free and open to the public. They take place from 8-10 p.m. a the Brooks Astronomical Observatory, on top of Brooks Hall. The Open House will take place no matter the weather, but they are far more interesting when we are actually able to observe. When the weather is bad, you can still take a tour of the observatory and an astronomer (in this case, me) will be on hand to answer questions. 

Please note that getting to the observatory does involve stairs. There is only one stairwell that will get you to the observatory, and while it is the one nearest the elevators, the elevator only goes as far as the 3rd floor and the observatory entrance is on the 4th floor. Also, there are stairs to get from the entrance into the telescope dome (which is the only room on the 5th floor of Brooks hall!)

  • Wednesday 17 - Jan. 2024
  • Thursday 15 - Feb. 2024
  • Monday 15 - April 2024

Note that there will not be an Open House night in March due to a scheduling issue. I will also note that it might not be that dark by the start of the one in April, as sunset is getting pretty late by that time of year.