The Dearborn Observatory is open for public observing with the historic 18.5" refracting telescope every Friday night from 8:00 - 10:00 pm.
The Friday night observation tours at the Dearborn Observatory are open to the public, and there are two hours open for visiting:
At this time, October-February reservation times are completely full. However, guests are welcome during the walk-in hour.
- 8:00 - 9:00 pm: Reservation hour only. Reservation requests received after 4 PM the day of may not be processed.
Your group will have a tour of the Observatory, and be able to look through the telescope.
Online Reservation Form
- 9:00 - 10:00 pm: Walk-ins welcome.
We try to allow everyone at least one opportunity to look through the telescope, but space is limited and there is no guarantee that everyone will be able to look through the telescope if we are very crowded.
There is no fee for the Friday night observation hour, however if you make a reservation for a group of 10 or more we require a refundable deposit which will be returned to you on the night of your visit. If you have questions, or need information about viewing, please call Yassaman Shemirani at 847-491-7650. If you would like to make a reservation, please use the online reservation form.
Please be advised that the dome does not have heat or air conditioning so please dress appropriately. Friday night tours are held "rain or shine," although of course cloud cover affects viewing. Tours are hosted by Ph.D. students and/or undergraduate students majoring in Physics & Astronomy. Visitors are encouraged to ask questions.
Unfortunately, the Dearborn Observatory is NOT ADA-accessible. Several staircases must be climbed in order to reach the telescope.
CIERA Astronomer Evenings
CIERA Astronomer Evenings are special programs that take place on the last Friday of the month at the observatory. Meet astronomers from Northwestern’s Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics. Different experts host each month and are available to answer your astronomy questions. The evenings include a 10-minute introduction to a topic, followed by an open Q&A session and interactive demonstrations. Stop by any time during the two-hour public observing window. Children are welcome. The talks are free and open to all. No reservation is needed.Back to top