Heyden Observatory and Gardens Outline
Construction: Erected in 1844 using the money of Brother Joseph West S.J. who gave his whole savings to Georgetown when he took his final vows.
Area: 5,066 Gross Square Feet
Architect: Constructed under the direction of Father James Curley S.J.; a renowned professor of Astronomy during the 1820s 1830s
- The observatory is the third oldest college observatory in the United States. Only Williams College, Massachusetts and the Western Reserve, Ohio preceded Georgetown
- In 1969, NASA’s director secured an act of Congress designating the observatory as a national monument
- It was here that Father Curley kept a detailed record of Washington’s weather for 50 years
- The observatory is one of two Georgetown buildings included in the national register of historic places in the United States. The other building on the register is Healy Hall.
- Was originally deemed the Georgetown Observatory, but was changed to the Francis J. Heyden Observatory and Gardens as a tribute to the man who for a quarter of a century contributed astronomical discoveries to science
- Observatory was officially closed in 1971 due to light pollution obstructing the ability to study the sky
- “The Heyden Observatory is currently used by the Georgetown University Astronomical Society as a place to promote the discussion and development of science, especially of astronomy and physics, as well as the history of science. We host our weekly meetings/open houses there, and our activities consist of stargazing and short presentations on current topics in astronomy and physics.” ~ Laura Caron, President, GUAS