The second Dudley Observatory building, shown on a postcard (c. 1911)
|Location||Schenectady, New York|
|Related media on Wikimedia Commons|
Dudley Observatory was an astronomical observatory originally located in Albany, New York, and now in Schenectady, New York. It is no longer an operating observatory, but remains the oldest non-academic institution of astronomical research in America. The Observatory was chartered on February 11, 1852 by the New York State Senate, and by the New York State Assembly on April 3, 1852. It was named for Charles E. Dudley of Albany, a former United States Senator (1828–1833) and member of the Albany Regency. Dudley lived in New York State, died in 1841, and his widow Blandina Bleeker Dudley endowed the Dudley Observatory after his death.
Dudley is part of the coalition of institutions comprising Union University. Other institutions include Albany College of Pharmacy, Albany Law School, Albany Medical College, and the Graduate College of Union University.
Dudley Observatory has operated at two different observing sites since its founding. The first began construction in 1852, on a rise to the north-east of downtown Albany that was locally known as "Goat Hill". The building was dedicated on August 28, 1856 prior to its completion, with Edward Everett delivering the keynote oration. By the 1890s, railroad traffic around the original building had grown to the point where the vibrations were disrupting the astronomical instruments. The original building was sold to the city of Albany, and new property was purchased on the grounds of the Albany Alms-House.
After World War II, Dudley began a transition from astronomical observation to research for the space race. Consequently, the second observatory was sold to Albany Medical Center in 1963 and an office building was purchased at 100 Fuller Road, near the University at Albany. This phase lasted until the end of the space race, when funding from NASA dried up. The Fuller Road office was rented to the University in 1976. The Observatory made several moves, ending up in an office in the Schaffer Heights building in Schenectady.
The Observatory later evolved from primarily doing research into a research and educational foundation. In 2013, the administration and collections of the Observatory were moved to Schenectady's Museum of Innovation and Science.
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