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Holcomb Observatory

Holcomb Observatory & Planetarium

Holcomb Observatory and Planetarium has been serving Butler University students and the Indianapolis public 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. It is the ninth largest telescope East of the Mississippi River. The observatory can be visited during our regular public tours or groups can schedule group tours at other times.

The telescope has recently undergone a $425,000 refurbishment by Astronomical Consultants and Equipment to greatly improve its optics, operation, and research ability. It is now fully operating again and giving us superb views of our Indiana night sky.

Total Lunar Eclipse January 2019

Holcomb Observatory will be highlighting the Total Lunar Eclipse occurring this month with planetarium shows on Friday the 18th, Saturday the 19th, and Sunday the 20th. The planetarium show will explore eclipses of all types, their history, folklore, and how they have helped us understand the cosmos. There will also be telescope viewing each evening. Follow us on Facebook for up-to-date information on the sky, dates, and times.

Tour the Observatory

At night, the dome of the planetarium comes alight with a tour of the night time sky pointing out stars, constellations, and planets in the Hoosier skies. Public tours are available most Friday and Saturday evenings. Group tours can be scheduled at selected weekday 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. Wheelchair accessibility is available in the Planetarium and lobby area only. No elevator is available to the telescope viewing area.