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Holcomb Observatory

Holcomb Observatory & Planetarium

Holcomb Observatory and Planetarium has been serving Butler University students and Central Indiana for over 60 years. The observatory, one of the largest public observatories in the world, houses a 38-inch Cassegrain reflector in addition to a number of smaller telescopes, along with a fully immersive digital planetarium. It is among the ten largest telescopes East of the Mississippi River. The observatory can be visited during our regular public tours, or groups can schedule group tours at other times.

From 2015 through 2019, the facilities at the observatory underwent major upgrades. The telescope had a $425,000 refurbishment done by Astronomical Consultants and Equipment to greatly improve its optics, operation, and research ability. The planetarium underwent a complete overhaul of $200,000 with the help of Indianapolis-based Bowen Technovation and is now a fully digital, immersive fulldome theater. These upgrades have greatly enhanced the visitor experience.

Now Showing: Season of Light

Light up the cold dark season with a warm and bright holiday show during our Friday and Saturday public nights! Season of Light explores the reasons humans are so fascinated with lighting up our lives during the December holiday season. It's an exploration of the astronomical meanings behind seasonal traditions, including the "Star of Bethlehem." Each evening will also feature viewing through Indiana's largest telescope. Follow us on Facebook for up-to-date information on the sky, dates, and times.

Visit the Observatory and Planetarium

You can explore the cosmos at Holcomb Observatory and Planetarium rain or shine. Watch a fulldome immersive feature planetarium program, then travel through our Galaxy, learn stories about the stars and constellations in our night sky, and then look through Indiana's largest telescope (weather permitting). Visit us on our Weekend Public Tours that are available most Friday and Saturday evenings (see our schedule). Or, if weekends don't work, you can schedule a Group Tour during other selected times.

Enjoying the Observatory & Planetarium

Our Telescopes

Butler University’s first telescope was a 6-inch refractor donated to the University in the late 1880’s when the campus was located in Irvington on the east side of Indianapolis. The main telescope in use at Holcomb Observatory today is the 38-inch Cassegrain. Learn about our history with the telescopes and how they’re used today.

Holcomb Observatory lobby

For Our Patrons

Admission is $5 for children/students and $7 for adults for the planetarium show (cash and credit only). Viewing through the telescope is always free, weather permitting. Please note: there are 66 stairs leading from the lobby to the telescope room and three sets of steps to the telescope. For accessibility information or to request disability-related accommodations, please visit https://www.butler.edu/event-accommodations. Wheelchair accessibility is available in the Planetarium and lobby area only. No elevator is available to the telescope viewing area.