Erected in 1896 at the behest of the Illinois General Assembly, the University of Illinois Observatory became important in the development of astronomy due, in large part, to pioneering research by Stebbins, from 1907 to 1922. Joel Stebbins left the University of Illinois in 1922 but left behind a legacy of discovery that helped alter the face of modern astronomy.
The building, itself, is in a traditional observatory design, Colonial Revival style, following a T-plan. The dome rises 35 feet in the air.
The observatory played a key role in the development of astronomy as it was home to a key innovation in the area of astronomical photometry. The facility has been directed by such noted scientists as Joel Stebbins and Robert H. Baker.
Though none of the astronomical instruments are being used for professional research today, the observatory still contains a 12" Brashear refractor telescope.
|Recent Photograph of the Refurbished 12" Brashear Refractor Telescope.|
The building served the University of Illinois astronomy department from its opening until 1979, when the department moved into a new, larger building to house its growing staff.
The observatory was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 6, 1986 and on December 20, 1989, the U.S. Department of Interior designated the observatory a National Historic Landmark.
In 2013 and 2014, the telescope and the dome were refurbished.