Dudley Observatory

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Dudley Observatory
The second Dudley Observatory building, shown on a postcard (c. 1911)
Observatory code 296
Location Schenectady, New York
Coordinates 42°48′43″N 73°56′02″W / 42.811875°N 73.933764°W / 42.811875; -73.933764Coordinates: 42°48′43″N 73°56′02″W / 42.811875°N 73.933764°W / 42.811875; -73.933764
Website dudleyobservatory.org
Dudley Observatory is located in the US
Dudley Observatory
Location of Dudley Observatory
Commons page Related media on Wikimedia Commons
The first building of the observatory (c.1880)

Dudley Observatory is an astronomical observatory originally located in Albany, New York, and now in Schenectady, New York. 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.[1] While Dudley no longer serves as an operating observatory, it remains the oldest non-academic institution of astronomical research in America.

While Dudley is not part of Union College, it is part of the coalition of institutions that make up 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 in two observatories since its founding. The first began construction in 1852, and was located on a rise to the north-east of downtown Albany that was locally known as "Goat Hill".[2] While it was still not complete, the building was dedicated on August 28, 1856, with Edward Everett delivering the keynote oration.[3] 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.[4]

After World War II, Dudley began to move away from being an observatory towards doing more research work in line with 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.[5] This phases lasted until the end of the space race, when funding from groups like NASA dried up. The office on Fuller Road was rented to the University in 1976. The Observatory went through several moves, ending up in an office in the Schaffer Heights building in Schenectady.[6]

The Observatory transitioned away from being directly involved in research and towards being a research and educational foundation. In 2013, the administration and collections of the Observatory were moved to Schenectady's Museum of Innovation and Science.[7]

The Dudley Observatory 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.[8]


  1. ^ Wise, George (2004). Civic Astronomy: Albany’s Dudley Observatory, 1852–2002. Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 17–18. ISBN 1402026773 – via https://books.google.com/books?id=yAzlBwAAQBAJ. 
  2. ^ "Where Was Dudley? - Dudley Observatory". 2016-06-22. Retrieved 2016-09-07. 
  3. ^ "History of the Dudley Observatory", DudleyObservatory.org, Dudley Observatory, 2014, archived from the original on 10 February 2015, retrieved 16 February 2015 
  4. ^ "Where Was Dudley? Part 2 - Dudley Observatory". 2016-07-22. Retrieved 2016-09-07. 
  5. ^ "History - Dudley Observatory". Retrieved 2016-09-07. 
  6. ^ Wise, George (2004). Civic Astronomy: Albany’s Dudley Observatory, 1852–2002. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 181. ISBN 1402026773 – via https://books.google.com/books?id=yAzlBwAAQBAJ. 
  7. ^ Castan, Cameron J. (8 August 2013), "Dudley Observatory finds home at miSci", timesunion.com, Times Union, retrieved 16 February 2015 
  8. ^ Lorenzo Sabine (1864). Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution: With an Historical Essay. Boston: Little, Brown. p. 394. 

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