April 12, 2010
The University of Virginia's astronomical observatory is celebrating its 125th anniversary.
The McCormick Observatory is one of the world's oldest operating observatories, dedicated on April 13, 1885. It's named after the project's donor, Leander McCormick, heir to mechanical reaper inventor Cyrus McCormick.
The observatory's 26-inch-lens telescope is fully operational, but it's no longer sophisticated enough for research. But it's still a teaching tool for astronomy students, and is used for public outreach programs that allow visitors to view the night sky.
Thomas Jefferson's original plans for the university included an outline for the construction of an astronomical observatory.