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Galaxy hopping at the Chamberlin Observatory

For Denverites on a star quest, a stop at the University of Denver’s Chamberlin Observatory is a must. 

Managed by DU’s Department of Physics and Astronomy and located just a few blocks east of campus, the observatory is a valuable resource for students and the community at large. It’s also an architectural delight. 

With a domed roof capping a central rotunda, the building dates back to the 1890s. The telescope itself, a 20-inch Clark-Saegmueller refractor, debuted in 1894, during what’s widely regarded as the golden age of great refractors. 

Today, the observatory is open several times a month for educational events, many hosted by the Denver Astronomical Society. On a recent frigid Tuesday, guests learned all about how naval navigators used the moon and sun to sail from Point A to Point B. They then trained the telescope on Jupiter and the scene-stealing constellation known as Orion. 

Professor Jennifer Hoffman, who oversees management of the Chamberlin Observatory, considers the facility a valuable tool for generating excitement about astronomy and science in general. “That’s a big passion of mine and a significant part of our mission,” she says. “I like to encourage people to see themselves as connected with the universe and to think about the night sky as part of their cultural heritage and daily life.”

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Photos by Wayne Armstrong and Connor Mokrzycki 

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