Middlebury has the largest and best-equipped observatory of any institution in the state of Vermont. Located atop McCardell Bicentennial Hall, it consists of a dome housing a 24-inch optical telescope, a control room, and an observation deck equipped with three smaller optical telescopes.
The 24-inch aperture reflecting telescope in the dome is an f/8 Ritchey-Chrétien design with a 192-inch focal length mounted on an equatorial open fork mount. The telescope is equipped with a front-illuminated 4096×4096-pixel CCD camera with 9-micron pixels for a 26.0×26.0 arcmin field of view and a back-illuminated 2048×2048-pixel CCD camera with 15-micron pixels for a 21.7×21.7 arcmin field of view. Additionally, the telescope has a 3133×2833-pixel color CMOS camera with 4.64-micron pixels for a 13.5×9.2 arcmin field of view and supports visual observing with a variety of 2-inch eyepieces.
The observation deck includes two permanently mounted 11-inch f/10 Schmidt-Cassegrain altitude-azimuth reflecting telescopes and one permanently mounted 8-inch f/10 Schmidt-Cassegrain equatorial reflecting telescope. These telescopes support visual observing with a variety of 1.25-inch eyepieces.
The original telescope and instrumentation were funded in part with grants from the National Science Foundation and the Kresge Foundation. The 24-inch telescope was installed in February 2001. Major upgrades to the 24-inch, telescope, dome, and instrumentation, as well as optics re-aluminization, were performed during the summer of 2015 with support from the Mittelman Family Foundation.
Observational astronomy has a history at Middlebury going back to the 19th century. Astronomy was a required third-year course upon the founding of the College in 1800 and Old Chapel functioned as the College’s first Observatory in 1836. Over the last two centuries, astronomical observatories have observed the skies from various locations across campus in support of the College’s academic mission.
The Observatory is located at latitude 44° 00’ 48.4” north and longitude 73° 10’ 52.4” west.