Cooley Telescope at Stephens Memorial Observatory
The Cooley Telescope

The primary instrument of Stephens Memorial Observatory is the Cooley Telescope. The scope is a 9-inch refractor built by Warner and Swasey and donated to Hiram College by Lathrop Cooley in 1901. Photo by James Guilford, September 2008.

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Stephens Memorial Observatory

Welcome to the online home of the Stephens Memorial Observatory. The observatory is a part of the Physics Department of Hiram College* in Hiram, Ohio. The observatory's current mission is historic preservation, astronomy education, and public outreach.

Want to visit? Check our schedule below for open observing nights!
Contact information

Photo: The Moon on November 12, 2011 - Photo by James Guilford.

Public nights at Stephens Memorial Observatory

The observatory offers regular public viewing nights. See the schedule listing below.

A printable version of the schedule is also posted. We usually have one scheduled open night per month with a couple of different celestial objects picked for observing each night. Other nights and non-scheduled targets of opportunity will also be offered as circumstances arise! We have, for example, opened for an unexpected cometary apparition (Comet 17P/Holmes in 2007). Check here regularly for announcements.

Public nights are conducted in "open house" fashion and attendance is free of charge. Visitors may come and go during the course of the evening though occasional special programming may require arrival at a specific time.

Attendees are asked to park on permitted side streets. Nearby Peckham Avenue is posted "No Parking" -- you may be ticketed! There is no parking at the Observatory. DO NOT drive into or park in neighboring driveways: it's inconsiderate and violators may be towed! Where are we??

NOTE: Due to the age of our facilities, the Observatory is not handicap accessible nor do we have restroom facilities.


Fireball tracked by Hiram on its plunge eastward

Fireball east of Hiram, February 17, 2015. Courtesy NASA.

This morning (February 17, 2015), a space rock about two feet in diameter and weighing roughly 500 pounds entered Earth’s atmosphere above western Pennsylvania. First detected by three NASA meteor cameras at an altitude of 60 miles above Beaver Falls, the fireball moved almost due east at a speed of 45,000 miles per hour. It flared brighter than the Full Moon before the cameras lost track of it at an altitude of 13 miles above the town of Kittanning; there may be fragments (meteorites) scattered on the ground east of that location. This celestial visitor had an orbit that took it out to the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter - it came a mighty long way to a fiery end in the predawn Pennsylvania sky.

-- William Cooke, Meteoroid Environments Office, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

Pennsylvania TV station WGRZ broadcast this report.

Note: Hiram College has hosted a NASA All-Sky Fireball Network camera since August 2013. In that time the camera has recorded at least one exceptionally bright meteor on nearly every clear night. For more on Hiram's camera, click here!

Are You a Lunatic?

Interested in the Moon and what you can see from Hiram's Observatory?
Click here and check out our new {simplified} lunar map!
(You will need a PDF reader installed to open this file.)

2015 Public Nights Schedule

This schedule will be available in Adobe Acrobat format for viewing and printing! 
2015 Schedule of Public Nights - COMING SOON!

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For updated status of Open Nights, please see the Twitter feed in the left-hand column of this page or find us at:

PARKING: Please park on side streets where parking is allowed. Nearby Peckham Avenue is posted "No Parking" so don't park there! The sign is nearly illegible but the restriction is enforced. There is no parking at the Observatory. DO NOT drive into or park in neighboring driveways -- it’s inconsiderate and you may be towed!

This site will be the place to check for schedule updates: changes, cancellations, etc.

Recent and not-so-recent history

The primary instrument of the observatory is the Cooley Telescope. It is a nine-inch Warner and Swasey refractor graced with John Brashear Co. optics. Dedicated at Hiram College in 1901, it is a fine and unique example of turn of the (20th) century astronomical telescope technology being complete as manufactured. Our instrument contains and employs its original optical and drive components made by leading manufacturers of the time. Despite its age the Cooley's optics are excellent and provide impressive views of solar system and deep-sky wonders. Continued use of this instrument in astronomy is its highest and best purpose.

Visit our Historical Gallery. Photos dating back a century include views of the original Hiram observatory and the man who donated our telescope to the school.

At Stephens restoration, maintenance, and improvement are ongoing. The latest? We received the donation of two very good telescopes that we hope to begin using this year.

Observatory director/curator James Guilford is responsible for operation of the observatory for student, private, and public viewing sessions. Since spring, 2006, he has been working to preserve and enhance the observatory and visitor experiences there.

Contact via email:
Stephens Observatory

Reach us via email (above) or follow StephensObs on Twitter for quick updates! Postal address is: Stephens Observatory; Physics Department; 116 Gerstacker Hall; Hiram College; PO Box 67; Hiram, OH 44234-0067. Physics Department Phone: (330) 569-5264 (not answered at night).

A change of scenery?

Hiram College would like to build a new astronomy facility to allow for unobstructed views of the sky and support expanded programming for students and the community. The Cooley telescope would be moved there and modern instruments added. The College would welcome a major donor for this project -- contact us if you can help! Until then, Stephens Memorial Observatory is our home and we're delighted to see it improving.

Want to help? Financial gifts can be made to the Observatory by making a check payable to “Hiram College” with a note in the memo line indicating support for Observatory operations or programming. Operations will cover maintenance and general expenses. Donations made towards construction of a new astronomical facility will be gratefully accepted; please mark any checks accordingly. Checks payable to Hiram College (no cash, please) may be delivered to the astronomer in charge at any of our public nights or mailed to us at:

Observatory Donations
Attn: Development Office
Bancroft House
PO Box 67
Hiram, OH 44234-0067

Most recent update: 1/16/2015

* This site is privately owned and, while it presents authoritative observatory information,
it is not a publication of Hiram College.