The historic Warner and Swasey Observatory was established in 1920 as a part of Case Western Reserve University by Worcester R. Warner and Ambrose Swasey, whose Cleveland-based Warner and Swasey company was renowned for making some of the finest telescopes of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. The original facility in East Cleveland was closed in 1982. In 1979, The University relocated its Burrell Schmidt telescope to Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona, where it received a major overhaul and restoration. The Burrell Schmidt was refitted in 2002-2003 to operate with a CCD array in place of photographic plates and is currently used for cutting-edge astronomical research imaging. Thus, the Warner and Swasey Observatory continues its tradition of cutting edge astronomy research from the pristine skies of Arizona. A 9 1/2-inch refractor (pictured) is located on top of the A.W. Smith building. The “rooftop” telescope was originally shared by Mr. Warner and Mr. Swasey in a backyard observatory they built and used until they donated the telescope to the university observatory. It is available to faculty, staff, and students of CWRU.
CWRU also operated the Nassau Astronomical Station observatory, 30 miles east of Cleveland, where observing was done until recently using a 36-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. Nassau Station is no longer in operation. The property and telescope are to become central features of a new public facility, the Geauga Park District’s Observatory Park.
Photo by James Guilford