Public Events

Daytime Hours

Monday-Friday, Noon-4pm - Tours at 1pm, 2pm, and 3pm

The Cincinnati Observatory is open during the daytime for those who visit the National Historic Landmark and see the historic telescopes.

The tours are held at 1pm, 2pm and 3pm Monday-Friday, and will include both of the Observatory’s buildings and two main telescopes, including the Mitchel scope, the oldest public telescope still in use in this hemisphere. Weather permitting, there will also be the opportunity for safe solar viewing during the tours.

Daytime tours are $5 per person. 

Call 513-321-5186 for more information, or you can Sign Up Online for a Tour

Astronomy Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays

The Cincinnati Observatory is open to the public on most Thursday and Friday nights and some Saturday nights throughout the year. 

Each event includes a 30-minute presentation by a local astronomer on one of the many fascinating topics in astronomy followed by a guided stargaze through the oldest telescope in the United States – a 16-foot long wood and brass refractor first used in 1845 (weather permitting).  We observe a variety of objects including the Moon, planets, and stars. 

If cloudy, you'll be escorted on a historical tour of the observatory where you’ll see not only how the old telescope works but also the “new” one – a 22-foot long metal refractor made in 1904.  You'll also learn about the role that Cincinnati has played in the growth of astronomy in the United States.

  • Astronomy Thursdays admission is by suggested donation of $5 per person.
  • Astronomy Fridays and Saturdays are $7 for adults, $5 for children under 18.
  • Reservations are required for all evenings.
  • Astronomy evenings often book up one week in advance, so register early.

Register online or call 513-321-5186 for start times and reservations.

Programs are held rain or shine. You never know about the weather in Cincinnati and it does not have to be a completely clear night to permit viewing.  If the weather does not allow viewing, the presenters will offer an extended questions & answers session, tours of the two wonderful observatory buildings and show off our two magnificent telescopes. All will just whet your appetite for a return visit!

Sunday Historical Tours of the Cincinnati Observatory

Available on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of each month, these tours will run from 1pm - 4pm

From its inception in 1842, the Cincinnati Observatory has served Cincinnati, and the nation, in a wide variety of ways.

During these tours you will learn:

  • Learn how Mt. Adams got its name
  • The role the Observatory played in Cincinnati's commerce,
  • The scientific discoveries
  • The beginnings of the National Weather Service.
  • History of the observatory's architecture and
  • The citizens of Cincinnati who made the observatory possible.

A $5 donation per person is appreciated.


Observatory Visitors with Additional Needs

The Cincinnati Observatory strives to share the universe and our historic site with all our visitors, and to comply with ADA guidelines, will make all reasonable accommodations to ensure a positive experience when visiting the Observatory

However please note that there are limitations imposed by our architecture, being a National Historic Landmark, and our being a functioning astronomical observatory. The physical act of getting to the telescope’s eyepiece for viewing can also be an issue. The eyepieces on our two main telescopes can be anywhere from 4 feet to over 14 feet above the floor, which typically requires climbing a stepped platform to reach.

Parking: There is level parking directly adjacent to both buildings. While there are no marked parking places, with notice we can reserve places with cones or signage.

Grounds: The main public areas are relatively level and have blacktop or brick paths and walkways. There is an ADA compliant outdoor drinking fountain and two benches for seating.

1873 Observatory Building: Designed by leading architect Samuel Hannaford, the 1873 building is accessible by either the front entrance (9 steps with railings) or though the side walkway entrance which leads to a ADA compliant elevator/lift. The lift is a suitable size for individuals with canes, walkers or a standard-size manual wheelchair. The lift may not be suitable for wheelchairs with legs rest extended or motorized wheelchairs. The lift brings visitors to the main floor which houses the office, classroom, museum exhibits and event space.

The side door and lift also provide access to the unisex restroom although navigating the narrow basement hallways may be a limitation. Restroom access is easier in the other building.

The Telescope Dome Room is only accessible by stairs. A total of 27 stairs with 3 landings and one handrail. As noted above, reaching the telescope eyepiece usually involves additional steps.

1904 Observatory Building: The 1904 observatory houses our main classroom, original 1845 telescope, gift shop and two accessible restrooms. The front entrance has 5 steps but no handrails. There is an ADA compliant ramp to the side entrance which brings visitors into the main floor with access to the classroom, gift shop, lobby and restrooms. The is a drinking fountain indoors.

The Telescope Dome Room is only accessible by 5 steps with handrails on both sides. As noted above, reaching the telescope eyepiece usually involves additional steps.

Guest Services: The Cincinnati Observatory wants all our visitors to have a great experience. If you need additional assistance please inform us when making reservations or before visiting. Depending on staffing and equipment available, staff and/or volunteers may be able offer individualized tours and use of a portable telescope for stargazing.

Due to our limited budget we do not necessarily have on-hand staff with the skills to fully assist vision, hearing or physically/developmentally impaired visitors. However we actively work with organizations that do provide these services for their clients and encourage them to experience the Observatory. For more information please call 513-321-5186.