Seeing Stars and Experiencing History

Our Weekend Picks.pngOur Go! Weekend Picks suggestion for this week will have you seeing stars and experiencing one of Cincinnati’s firsts.


Cincinnati holds many firsts. They were the first municipality to have a fire department, 1853; the first to have a baseball team comprised entirely of professional players, 1869; the first to have a licensed public television station, 1954.


Our Weekend pick will take you even farther back in time to 1842 when The Cincinnati Observatory became the first organized astronomical observatory in the United States. The observatory was the brain-child of Ormsby McKnight Mitchel, a Cincinnati College professor, whose passionate lectures on astronomy ignited the interest of many supporters to initially fund the project.

The observatory also garnered the ardent interest of former president, John Quincy Adams. During his presidency in the late 1820’s, he had unsuccessfully lobbied Congress to create a National Observatory. So, even though he was elderly and in poor health at the time of the dedication of the Cincinnati Observatory, on November 9, 1843, he made the trip and presented the dedication speech. Mount Ida where the Cincinnati Observatory was originally built, was later renamed Mount Adams in his honor. In 1873, The Cincinnati Observatory was moved to its present location on Mount Lookout.


Today the observatory educates the public through educational outreach and presentations to school groups, scouts, and church and civic groups. On most Thursday and Friday nights, they offer an open to the public 30-40 minute presentation and weather dependent opportunity to star gaze through the oldest telescope in the United States. Regularly observed celestial bodies include the Moon, planets, double stars and nebulas.  Participants discover the role that Cincinnati has played in the growth of  astronomy in the United States.


Reservations are highly recommended as the events have a tendency to sell out. Call 513-321-5186 to make your reservations and to confirm start times. Suggested admission donation for Astronomy Thursdays is $5 per person and for Astronomy Friday, $7 for adults and $5 for children under 18. For further information, please visit their website.