Observatory began as a $150,000 endowment to Union College by Mrs. Frederick
W. Beinecke and son William, and was dedicated on May 21, 1967 in honor
of William Miller Sperry, Mrs. Beinecke's father. Mr. Sperry was a local
philanthropist, president of Sperry & Hutchinson Co., and an avid amateur
The Sperry Observatory is the home of Amateur Astronomers, Incorporated, a non-profit organization. The observatory houses two of the largest telescopes on the East Coast for amateur use. The 18-foot East Dome is made of steel and it holds a 10-inch f/15 refractor built by AAI members. That telescope was presented to the college in October, 1972. The 20-foot West Dome is made of fiber glass and it is home to a 24-inch f/11 Cassegrain reflector purchased by AAI. To minimize vibration, each telescope rests on an 8-foot thick concrete pier atop piles driven 30 feet into the ground, all separate from the building.
maintains a computer room, a machine shop, and an optical shop for amateur
telescope making and repair. Also in the observatory is a large classroom,
a sales and promotion desk, and a library of over 1200 books and periodicals
which are available to the membership.
Sperry Observatory is open to the public every Friday evening throughout the year. On many Fridays, we conduct two informal talks which are always followed by viewing of celestial objects through the two large telescopes, weather permitting.
If a youth group has made a prior arrangement with the Observatory Chair, the first talk begins at 7:30 p.m. and is suitable for younger audiences. At 8:30 p.m. a talk for the General Public will review a selected astronomical subject. For a schedule of informal talks, see Fridays at Sperry. These informal talks usually begin with a short briefing about current space missions.
On the 3rd Friday of each month from September through May, the club meets in the main auditorium on the UCC campus for a short business meeting followed by a talk by a guest lecturer. At about 10pm, after the general meeting, we all meet informally with the featured speaker at Sperry Observatory. Both main telescopes are operated and refreshments are served in the classroom. The public is invited to join us in this friendly atmosphere.
Click Public Talks for a full schedule of our presentations.
Temporary Observatory Chair:
visits for a maximum of 30 people may be scheduled by contacting:
Please be advised that this facility is an observatory and not a planetarium. The temperature inside the domes is the same as outdoors, and viewing of the sky is done in cramped quarters in almost total darkness. Such conditions may not be suitable for very young children.