Ladd Observatory

“What’s left is to share the wonders of the sky with people who are not professional scientists or astronomers.”

–Physics Professor and former Director Hendrik Gerritsen at the Observatory’s Centennial in 1991

Constructed in 1891 with funds provided by then-Governor Herbert W. Ladd, Brown’s Ladd Observatory was built under the guiding eye of Professor Winslow Upton (above), who would also serve as its first director. The site chosen for the Observatory was a hill about a mile from campus known as “Tin-Top Hill,” since it had served as a depository for old tin cans, which could be seen glinting from a distance.

The intended purpose of the building and its telescope (a refractor of twelve inches aperture and fifteen feet focal length) was three-fold: to provide instruction in astronomy, to conduct astronomical research and to furnish time signals.