Holcomb Observatory & Planetarium

Exploring the sky.

Holcomb Observatory and Planetarium has been serving Butler University students and Central Indiana for more than 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.

Butler University’s first telescope, a 6-inch refractor, was donated to the University in the late 1880s and has been refurbished several times—most recently in 2014. The main telescope currently used is the 38-inch Cassegrain, which was built along with Holcomb Observatory in 1954.

Telescope at Butler University

For more than 130 years, Butler has provided ​​unique astronomical learning experiences for students, faculty, staff, and visitors.

construction of Holcomb Observatory. a crane delivers a piece of roof