Astronomical Observatory


New Telescope in Dome


Opening Hours

The Observatory is closed during the winter. We will open again in March 2014.

 March 17 -- May 2, 2014

 Monday - Friday: 8.00-10:00 PM*

*Observing may end early in the event of low attendance or unfavorable sky conditions.


If you want to visit the observatory outside of regular hours, or with a group that is larger than 8 people, please give the observatory coordinator, Dr. AJ Poelarends, a call and he will arrange a time with you.


Astronomy Day - Spring 2014

Twice a year we organize Astronomy Day here at Wheaton College. Astronomy Day is our attempt to bring astronomy closer to you. This spring's Astronomy Day is scheduled for Saturday April 5, 2014, from 8PM till 11PM. If you have never looked through a telescope you will have an opportunity to see first hand what has so many amateur and professional astronomers all excited.

We think we have created an exciting program for this Spring's Astronomy Day.


The Observatory will be open from 8PM till 11PM. You will have an opportunity to look through Chicagoland's biggest telescope (the 24-in Planewave telescope in the dome) or through three smaller but still excellent telescopes on the observation deck. The telescopes will be pointed at various objects in the sky, including the famous Orion Nebula, colorful binary stars, beautiful star clusters and the planets Jupiter and Mars. To avoid waiting in line on the stairs, we open the observatory every 20 minutes for two groups of 30 people (one group goes to the deck, the other group goes to the telescope in the dome). Families with children will be given priority for access to the observatory between 8 and 9PM.

Moon Observations

There will also be at least two telescopes set up on ground level for observations of the Moon and Jupiter. The moon will be spectacular, just past first quarter, with many craters visible along the terminator (the dividing line between light and dark). If you want to know how these craters are formed, just go inside and do some experiments with our Geology students, and make your own craters in a box with sand. This activity is great for children as well!

Perry, Minerals, Earthquakes and a Pendulum

On the ground floor of the science center you will also have an opportunity to look at, and hear about Perry, the Mastodon who was found about 50 years ago in Lombard. One floor down, in the basement, the Museum is open with its spectacular Arthur E. Smith Mineral Collection, including a collection of over 200 frogs carved from various stones. Just outside of the museum, you can register your own "earthquake" on our seismograph. Jump up and down and make the earth shake. On the second floor of the science building you can learn all about the Foucault Pendulum, a famous instrument that measures the time as a result of the rotation of the earth.


If you want to buy a telescope for yourself or your family, you can get one from the Society of Physics Students. They will sell Galileoscopes for the reduced price of $40. The Galileoscope is a high quality, low cost telescope perfect for backyard stargazing. No matter where you live, with this easy-to-assemble, 50-mm (2-inch) diameter, 25- to 50-power achromatic refractor, you can see the celestial wonders that Galileo Galilei first glimpsed 400 years ago and that still delight stargazers today. These include lunar craters and mountains, four moons circling Jupiter, the phases of Venus, Saturn’s rings, and countless stars invisible to the unaided eye.

If you always wanted to look through a telescope, or have questions about astronomy that you want answered, come to the Observatory at Wheaton College. Everyone is welcome. Admission is free.


Current Weather


The observatory is located in the Science Building, on the corner of University Place and Howard Street. Parking is available across the street from at corner of Howard Street and College Avenue. Access to the observatory is from the 4th floor of the science building.

Campus Map and Directions

Coordinates: 41.8661°N, 88.1069°W


Please contact the observatory coordinator, Dr. AJ Poelarends (630 752-5894), for group appointments (scouts, church, etc) or for individual appointments outside the regular opening hours.