Tour the Observatory
Welcome to the virtual tour of the Elgar Weaver Observatory at Wittenberg University. The observatory, constructed in 1931, was made possible by the generous donations from the Elgar Weaver family of Brookville, Ohio. When the observatory opened, Dr. Hugh G. Harp, professor of Mathematics and Astronomy, became the first Director of Weaver Observatory.
During the observatory's early years, it was used extensively by both members of the Wittenberg community and researchers from nearby Wright Patterson Air Force Base for astronomical research. Now it is primarily used as a teaching aid in the university's astronomy classes and for Wittenberg's stargazing enjoyment.
The building measures 38 feet by 44 feet and is topped with a copper dome which is 22 feet in diameter. Including the dome and observation deck, there are three working floors inside the observatory.
The entry-level floor houses a large classroom, the director's office, a computer room, and the clock room. In the clock room are the observatory's sidereal clock, or star clock.
The entry-level floor also houses a Meridian Transit Telescope. This telescope was originally used to record the exact transit times of stars. Positioned along the North-South line that passes through the building, scopes like these can be used to obtain extremely accurate measures of the Latitude and Longitude of the observatory.
The basement was originally designed to be a computational laboratory. Equipped with a darkroom for film developing and glass plate photography, this area was ideally suited for the photographic needs of the era. A small library and museum in the basement housed information about astronomy's history.
The observatory's main attraction by far is the 22' dome that sits upon its roof. Beneath the protective dome is the university's main observational instrument -- a 10-inch refractor. The refractor was placed in the observatory in the spring of 1931; however, the 10" objective lens, cast by the Carl Lundin Co., was probably completed up to a year earlier. Current efforts are under way to restore and modernize the telescope; however, much effort and concern have been placed on the preservation of the vintage telescope's unaltered history.