Van Vleck Observatory

Credit: Phil Stekl 2023


Van Vleck Observatory has three onsite telescopes housed in domes as well as a portable 10 inch Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain donated by the Fiducia family of Middletown and several smaller portable telescopes.

Members of our faculty also frequently use world-class ground-based telescopes as well as spaced-based observatories like the Hubble Space Telescope.

Computing resources

Students have use of our computer lab in the department to assist in their research and class work. We maintain a network of workstations in this lab and in locations throughout the observatory. A range of research software including astroconda, CASA, IDL, CIAO, and many programming languages are supported on these machines as well as most popular desktop tools and desktop planetarium packages. The department also has access to a supercomputing cluster located in the Science Center.

Onsite research library and history museum

Van Vleck Observatory houses a research library and historical archive holding thousands of historical astronomical monographs, catalogs, and charts. We also hold publications of Van Vleck Observatory, the full collection of the Palomar Sky Survey charts, historical documents, and bound copies of all graduate and undergraduate student theses. Current and back issues of popular astronomy magazines are also held for student and faculty use. The library also houses the semi-permanent Under Connecticut Skies exhibition that chronicles the history of astronomy at Wesleyan and throughout central Connecticut.

Multimedia classroom

The Observatory has two classrooms that are equipped with modern instructional tools that allow for dynamic presentations of course material. Available in the classroom are HD digital projectors, macOS and Windows computers,  blu-ray players, and equipment for in-class demonstrations.

Portable planetarium

In 2019, we acquired Digitalis portable planetarium. The planetarium is used to as a teaching tool in our introductory courses and is transported to interested education programs for use with their students. We also have two older STARLAB portable planetariums. Teachers that attend a summer instructional course can arrange to borrow the STARLAB for use with their students.