Explore the Night Sky and Our History
Located blocks from DU campus in Denver's Observatory Park, the Chamberlin Observatory is a living piece of our history. Construction on the building — a Romanesque structure built from red sandstone — commenced in 1890, with the telescope seeing first light in 1894. In addition to supporting DU's astronomy work, the observatory provides a center for outreach between our science departments and the surrounding community.
The Chamberlin Observatory is named for the Denver real estate magnate, Humphrey Chamberlin, who pledged $50,000 towards the observatory's construction in 1888. Prof. Herbert Howe, who started DU's astronomy department in 1880, designed the astronomical elements of the facility. Observatory renovations took place in 2008, coinciding with its recognition on the National Register of Historic Places.
At the time it was built, the observatory's refractor telescope was the fifth-largest instrument of its kind in the world. This technology — revolutionary in its time — still provides a remarkable view of the heavens.
The Chamberlin Observatory is a hub for astronomical activities throughout the city of Denver. Community outreach events happen at least once per lunar cycle and offers community members the opportunity to view the stars through the large telescope. The Denver Astronomical Society members, as well as local hobbyists, bring an assortment of smaller telescopes which are available to visitors for free use.
We also offer multiple weekly public nights that allow groups to make reservations to use our equipment. The Denver Astronomical Society hosts additional events and often uses the observatory for board meetings and special events.