Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

DU’s historic observatory serves as eye to the sky


Chamberlin Observatory

The University of Denver’s historic Chamberlin Observatory is the proverbial peephole to stars that’s been giving humans a visual outlet for their cosmological curiosity since 1894.

“The observatory is many things: an architectural marvel unique in Denver, the center of the University Park community and it codifies the past, present and future of astronomical arts and sciences,” says Robert Stencel, an associate professor in DU’s department of physics and astronomy and the observatory’s director.

And this spring and summer may be a good time for a tour, Stencel says. 

“Presenters give colorful slide shows, videos and whatever audio-visual method is appropriate,” says Stencel, who’s been teaching at DU since 1993. “And visitors are treated to telescopic views of the stars, planets, galaxies and nebulae though Chamberlin’s 20-inch Alvan Clark-Saegmuller refracting telescope.”

David Trott, a long-time DU astronomy instructor, says kids especially enjoy their first view of the giant telescope.” Over the last 20 years, I have heard countless wide-eyed children say, ‘Wow!’” 

On tap are good looks at Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn along with a blue moon (the second full moon in a single calendar month on May 31), a new moon on June 14, the summer solstice at noon MDT on June 21, Venus’s greatest brilliancy on July 12, the Venus inferior conjunction (when Venus passes between the Sun and the Earth) on August 18 and a full moon and total lunar eclipse on August 28. 

Stencel and his staff hold regular public nights and open houses at the observatory at 2930 East Warren Avenue in Observatory Park.

Public nights are every Tuesday and Thursday from sunset to 10 p.m. Cost is $3 for adults and $2 for children.

Open houses are $1 per person and run from sunset until 10 p.m., weather permitting, on the following Saturdays in 2007: May 26, June 23, July 21, Aug. 18, Sept. 22, Oct. 20, Nov. 17 and Dec. 15. 

Large groups such as scout troops, schools, churches, astronomy clubs and other social clubs are welcome. Stencel says visitors may bring telescopes or binoculars.

Call 303-871-5172 or visit for details and a full schedule of 2007 observatory events.

Visit and for more information.

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