Happy Birthday, Cooley!

Photo: Vintage Observatory Telescope. Photo by James Guilford.
The Cooley Telescope at Stephens Memorial Observatory

On October 25, 120 years ago, Rev. Lathrop Cooley, on the occasion of his 80th birthday, presented a 9-inch Warner & Swasey telescope to Hiram College. He remarked, “This instrument is erected here so that you may climb the steep of heaven and walk among the stars.” The Cooley Telescope has resided in Hiram since its dedication, first at Teachout Library and Observatory then, following a building fire, at Stephens Memorial Observatory.

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, including its functional weight-driven drive. As is customary, the telescope was named for the benefactor who provided it, Lathrop Cooley. See our History page for more about Mr. Cooley.

The telescope and its mount were made by the Warner and Swasey Company in Cleveland at their telescope factory located at Carnegie Avenue and East 55th Street. The outstanding optics were produced by the John Brashear Company, Pittsburgh. Over the years the Cooley Telescope has provided splendid views of Earth’s Moon, planets, nebulae, star clusters, comets, and even Sun, to many hundreds, perhaps thousands of visitors. Though the telescope remains operable, it is in need of mechanical overhaul and refurbishment.

We’re still observing restrictions meant to prevent the spread of COVID-19 but we hope it will not be very much longer before we can again share the wonders of the universe with visitors. After all, the Cooley Telescope is a gift that keeps on giving possibly for another century or so!

Dedication Plaque affixed to the Cooley Telescope
Dedication Plaque affixed to the Cooley Telescope

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