In the Community

Explore at Crane Observatory

refracting telescopeWashburn University’s Crane Observatory is a hidden gem of Topeka. Check it out during an open house and view the night sky through a Warner & Swasey refracting telescope built in the late 1800s.

Crane Observatory open viewing sessions are hosted by the Washburn Department of Physics and Astronomy. Observatory open viewing sessions, which begin after dusk, are canceled if the weather is not conducive to viewing.

Crane Observatory is on the fourth floor of Stoffer Science Hall, at 17th Street and Washburn Avenue. There is ample free parking in front of the building in Lot 1. Use the southwest entrance to Stoffer Hall and take the stairs to the fourth floor. At present, the observatory is not wheelchair accessible.

The observatory is named for Zenus Crane, who in October 1901 anonymously donated $50,000 for its establishment. His identity was revealed after his death in 1917.

Check out this week’s night sky before you go to Crane Observatory. Contact the Washburn Department of Physics and Astronomy at 785.670.2264 to learn more.


Stoffer Science Hall also is home to Washburn’s Planetarium. At a planetarium open house, 30 visitors can see a projection of the night sky.

The planetarium is available for school group presentations on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the school year. Contact the Washburn Department of Physics and Astronomy at 785.670.2264 to schedule a presentation.

See here for the planetarium open house schedule.