Perkins Observatory3199 Columbus Pike
Delaware, Ohio 43015
740-363-1257 | www.perkins.owu.edu
Perkins Observatory – Revealing the Mysteries of the Stars
Virtually unseen along Route 23 south of Delaware, the Perkins Observatory has been exploring the stars since 1931.
Operated by a small staff and dedicated volunteer astronomers, the Perkins Observatory is one of central Ohio’s hidden gems. The observatory offers exhibits, weekly lectures, and Friday night programs that explore the universe unseen by the naked eye. Admission to events is by ticket only, so be sure to call ahead for your out-of-this-world experience.
A professor of mathematics and astronomy at Ohio Wesleyan University, Hiram Mills Perkins (1833-1924) left his teaching post in 1861 to join the Union Army. Rejected for military service, Perkins turned his energies to feeding the Union Army. Salt pork was a food staple for Civil War troops, so Perkins began raising hogs on a southern Ohio farm. As a devout Methodist, he believed he should not profit from the suffering of others; after the war he invested his wartime earnings. He returned to his teaching post at Ohio Wesleyan, living frugally on a small teacher’s salary. Upon retirement in 1907 and using his wartime investments, Perkins took on a new project to build “an astronomical observatory of importance.”
At the age of 90, Perkins broke ground for the observatory building in 1921. As the major benefactor of the project, he stipulated that the observatory would support research and be open to the public at least once each month. The building was completed in 1926 and a 69-inch telescope was installed in 1931. At the time of its completion, it was the third largest telescope in the world. However, because Midwestern skies are not always conducive to deep sky observation, in 1961 the 69-inch scope was moved to Arizona. A smaller 32-inch telescope is in use currently. It is the third largest telescope operating in Ohio.
Notes for Travelers
The Perkins Observatory can handle up to 80 persons at a time, so admission for weekly lectures and nighttime programs is by ticket only. Group tours are available. Check the observatory website for program listings and ticket information. According to its website, the observatory does not have normal business hours, so leave a phone message and be patient for a return call.