Observatory

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Dictionary Meaning and Definition on 'Observatory'

Observatory Meaning and Definition from WordNet (r) 2.0
    observatory n
  1. a building designed and equipped to observe astronomical phenomena
  2. a structure commanding a wide view of its surroundings [syn: lookout, observation tower, lookout station]
Observatory Meaning and Definition from Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)
    Observatory \Ob*serv"a*to*ry\, n.; pl. Observatories. [Cf. F. observatoire.]
  1. A place or building for making observations on the heavenly bodies. The new observatory in Greenwich Park. --Evelyn.
  2. A building fitted with instruments for making systematic observations of any particular class or series of natural phenomena.
  3. A place, as an elevated chamber, from which a view may be observed or commanded.
  4. (Mil.) A lookout on a flank of a battery whence an officer can note the range and effect of the fire. --Farrow.
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Wikipedia Meaning and Definition on 'Observatory'


An observatory is a location used for observing terrestrial and/or celestial events. Astronomy, climatology/meteorology, geology, oceanography and volcanology are examples of disciplines for which observatories have been constructed. Historically, observatories were as simple as containing an astronomical sextant (for measuring the distance between stars) or Stonehenge (which has some alignments on astronomical phenomena).

Ground-based observatories, located on the surface of Earth, are used to make observations in the radio and visible light portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. Most optical telescopes are housed within a dome or similar structure, to protect the delicate instruments from the elements. Telescope domes have a slit or other opening in the roof that can be opened during observing, and closed when the telescope is not in use. In most cases, the entire upper portion of the telescope dome can be rotated to allow the instrument to observe different sections of the night sky. Radio telescopes usually do not have domes.

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