The Sky's the Limit!

The Observatory is open for walk-ins every Friday from noon to 5pm and will have public events Friday evenings and some Thursdays. Please check our calendar.

All events are free.

Scheduled Observatory events require advance registration. Please see our calendar below for details.

[about this photo]

4/8/22 Detroit Observatory ReOpening event.

Student docent showing telescope to young girl and her parents

Visiting the Observatory

Upcoming Events

Apr. 19, 2024

Friday / 12:00 PM

Creating Michigan: A Walking Tour of Key Moments in U-M’s Early History

Apr. 19, 2024

Friday / 2:30 PM

The Origins of the Law Quadrangle: A Walking Tour

Apr. 19, 2024

Friday / 8:30 PM

Astronomy Night

Calendar of Events

S Sun

M Mon

T Tue

W Wed

T Thu

F Fri

S Sat

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

1 event,

-

Astronomy April Fools

3 events,

-

Creating Michigan: A Walking Tour of Key Moments in U-M’s Early History

-

70’s Night: A Century Retro-spective

2 events,

-

Canceled: Creating Michigan: A Walking Tour of Key Moments in U-M’s Early History

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

2 events,

-

Paths of Protest: Stories of Campus Activism at the University of Michigan

-

Statewide Astronomy Night: UM Astronauts

2 events,

-

Creating Michigan: A Walking Tour of Key Moments in U-M’s Early History

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

3 events,

-

Creating Michigan: A Walking Tour of Key Moments in U-M’s Early History

-

Astronomy Night

2 events,

-

Paths of Protest: Stories of Campus Activism at the University of Michigan

-

Creating Michigan: A Walking Tour of Key Moments in U-M’s Early History

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

1 event,

-

Making Big History: How U-M Added Billions of Years to Students’ Education

3 events,

-

Paths of Protest: Stories of Campus Activism at the University of Michigan

-

Astronomy Night w/ Feature Talk

2 events,

-

Creating Michigan: A Walking Tour of Key Moments in U-M’s Early History

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

Observing the Heavens, Exploring the Past

Come see the sky with us.
Journey back in time with us.

Visitors have opportunities to observe the sky using Observatory telescopes. Inside the dome, the Fitz telescope provides wonderful views of the moon, planets, and stars. See Saturn’s rings, Jupiter’s moons, and the light from stars that have traveled for hundreds of years or longer. And we now offer daytime observing of the Sun, using appropriate safety precautions.

Every look through the telescope is also a look into the past.  And join us also to explore a human past — the past of the University of Michigan and its place in history. Lectures, cultural events, exhibits, and tours all have a home at the Observatory.

Observing experiences will be accompanied by explanatory presentations and exhibits and will be led by trained astronomers.

All events are free. Events that require a printed or digital ticket are listed in the calendar above.

[about this photo]

4/15/22 Detroit Observatory open house event and telescope viewing.

Visiting Overview

Visiting
Open Hours

Entry to the Observatory on Fridays, noon to 5:00 pm, is free and on a walk-in basis. Our docents and staff will be happy to guide you through the Observatory’s attractions.

Noon to 2:30 pm: we offer historical tours of the building and astronomical tours of the telescopes, with solar observing if weather permits.

2:30 pm to 5:30 pm: we offer historical walking tours of campus, as described below, and astronomical tours of the telescopes, with solar observing if weather permits.

Scheduled Events

Entry to the Observatory for other scheduled events — astronomical, historical, and cultural — requires a printed or digital ticket, which can be acquired through advance registration. All events are free.

The reasons for advance registration are our desire to ensure a continuing safe environment as we begin to emerge, we hope, from the pandemic; our wish to foster a more intimate, rich experience for visitors; and our need to gauge attendance to our current level of staffing and operations.

Openings are limited and will depend on the nature of the event, so please book your visit well in advance. The Observatory offers talks, presentations, observing — both nighttime and daytime — and tours. Check the calendar above for special events and registration.

See the Heavens!

Explore the heavens during one of our astronomy sessions. Sessions involve presentations on a range of fascinating astronomical phenomena, instruction on the telescopes, and, when weather permits, observing with our beautiful historic Fitz telescope as well as modern supplemental telescopes. We offer both nighttime observing and daytime observing of the Sun (with all necessary safety precautions). Please note: astronomy events at the Observatory take place even if the weather does not permit observing. We strive to always have interesting things for you to do.

Take a Tour
The Detroit Observatory

This tour covers both the original building and the addition. Learn about the telescopes, see why the observatory was constructed the way it was, hear about the astronomers who walked its floors in the 19th century — and the discoveries they made — and understand what we hoped to gain by construction of the addition.

U-M History Walking Tours

Our docents will be excited to lead you on one of the following walking tours of campus, Fridays beginning at noon or 2:30 pm.  We also offer group tours by request, for groups of 5 or more.  Please make a request through the form on the Contact page.

Creating Michigan: A Walking Tour of Key Moments in U-M’s Early History (The Original 40 Acres)

Join us for a 1.5-hour walking tour covering highlights of the first 70 years of U-M history on the original 40-acre campus. This tour will explore questions such as: What do the Odawa, Ojibwe, and Badawademi have to do with the founding of the University? How did the Diag change from pasture to the tree-covered expanse it is today? What was life like for U-M’s original students in Ann Arbor?  Before the President’s House was the President’s House, what was it? Why is a plaque commemorating the admission of women located in Angell Hall?

Paths of Protest: Stories of Campus Activism at the University of Michigan

The Paths of Protest tour will allow you to see historically significant locations on campus where you will learn about protests on campus. Over the course of 1.5 hours, we will cover women’s activism, the legacy of the Treaty of Fort Meigs for Native students, the Black Action Movement, anti-Vietnam War activism, and more. While this tour will emphasize the 1960s and 1970s on campus, we will also go back in time to the founding of U-M and explore more recent instances of activism.

The Origins of the Law Quadrangle

The Origins of the Law Quadrangle tour seeks to familiarize you not only with the illustrious, imposing architecture of the Law Quadrangle here at the University of Michigan but also with the historic presence of the Law School itself. Over the course of 1.5 hours, we will discuss the conception of the buildings themselves, the winding roads it took to get there, and the Law School’s many years of influence on social issues and legal education as we stroll through the Quad.

 

Getting to the Observatory

The U-M Detroit Observatory is located at 1398 E. Ann Street (at the corner of Ann and Observatory Streets) in Ann Arbor, MI. Please use the entrance to the addition on Observatory Street; the old entrance facing Ann Street is no longer used for entry.

Our Hours:

Fridays noon to 5:00 pm for walk-in visits. Need a special group tour? Use the form on the Contact Us page to get started.

Parking

Daytime weekdays: Parking is very limited around the Observatory during the daytime, Monday through Friday. There is metered parking along Ann Street and Observatory Street. The University’s Palmer Drive Parking Structure, off Washtenaw by Palmer Commons, offers paid visitor parking during the daytime ($1.80/hour; operating hours are 8:00am to 10:00pm, Mon-Sat). Visitors may also choose to use Ann Arbor city lots or other U-M visitor lots farther away and walk or bus to the Observatory.

Evenings and weekends: Some area lots and structures are open evenings and weekends, and permit parking is not enforced.   The Ann Street Parking Structure (M86), the Catherine Street Structure (M5), the Glen Street Structure (M61), and the School of Public Health II Lot are usually open after 6:00 pm Mon-Fri and on weekends.

Parking Information

Accessibility

The Detroit Observatory addition and the main floor of the Detroit Observatory building are fully handicapped accessible, but the dome is not, meaning that visitors with mobility issues will not have direct access to the Fitz telescope. Many events will, however, give visitors indirect access to the telescope via video stream from the dome to the other levels of the Observatory. Visitors with accessibility concerns are advised to check the schedule for those events that will include video streaming.

Safety Protocols and FAQs

And please check here for things to take into account when visiting: safety protocols, do’s and don’ts, what to wear, what you can expect, including our COVID policy.

At this time, given the CDC rating of Washtenaw County as LOW community transmission, masks are optional at the Observatory. Please be advised that some locations, such as the dome, are tight spaces where social distancing is not possible.

back to top