The Cincinnati Observatory Center (COC) is known as The Birthplace of American Astronomy. It houses one of Cincinnati Observatory - Hyde Park/Mt. Lookoutthe oldest working telescopes and was the first public observatory in the western hemisphere. the observatory is on the National Register of Historic Places.

It was founded by Ormsby McKnight Mitchel, a Professor at Cincinnati College in 1842, by generating public enthusiasm for astronomy.  He must have been persuasive, because he organized the Cincinnati Astronomical Society with over 300 shareholders. He was able to purchase the main telescope, an 11-inch Merz and Mahler refractor for $9000, a huge sum at the time.

The site of the original observatory was a 4 acre lot at the top of Mt. Ida, some 400 feet above the City of Cincinnati Observatory - Hyde Park/Mt. LookoutCincinnati, on land donated by its owner, Nicholas Longworth. On the 9th of November, 1843, the cornerstone was laid by John Quincy Adams, former President of the United States. It was at the dedication that Adams gave his last public speech. Mt Ida was renamed Mt. Adams following this event.

Mitchel's dedication and enthusiasm for the science of astronomy has led to his being named the "Father of American Astronomy."  The Observatory's early history was difficult with pressures from a depression, lack of funding and the Civil War.

When a new director was named, the Observatory was moved to the country in Mt. Lookout, because of the clouded night skies up the hill from Cincinnati's heated air, smoke and coal dust.  (Both Hyde Park and Mt.Lookout claim the Observatory in their literature.)  In 1871 the University of Cincinnati took over its operation.

In 1997 the Cincinnati Observatory Center was formed as a volunteer committee dedicated to revitalizing and preserving the Cincinnati Observatory and its historic setting.  They currently have a long term lease to the building and grounds from the University.

The broad-based community volunteer group has revitalized educational programs and increased interest in the study of astronomy in the Cincinnati area.

The historic buildings are designated as a National Historic Landmark, and the grounds provide a serene, park-like setting while still being centrally located in the city of Cincinnati.

Future Galileos - Starry Messengers Project

The Cincinnati Observatory has a program to award 60 quality telescopes and training for 60 individuals or teams to become astronomy ambassadors and further astronomy education in the Cincinnati area.

They will distribute 20  telescopes over each of the next three years to deserving students, teachers, and/or community leaders across the Greater Cincinnati area. Winners will be judged on a balance of academic merit and intended use of the telescope to further astronomy education in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. They will be trained on the use of the telescope from local experts and learn how to give public programs with their telescope.
To apply, visit their website at

 Sled RidingCincinnati Observatory - Hyde Park/Mt Lookout - sled riding

By the way...this is a great sled riding hill!