Physics & Astronomy

Crane Observatory

The Physics & Astronomy Department houses and operates the Crane Observatory and a planetarium, which are open to the public during scheduled open viewing sessions.

In addition, the planetarium is open to school groups by appointment during the day on Tuesday and Thursday when school is in session. There is no cost for these school groups.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment, contact Dr. Mark Smith, at (785)670-2264, or


We do live in Kansas, where often the skies ARE CLOUDY AND GRAY. The open viewing session requires being able to see the planets, Moon and stars that we are looking for. The telescope is a visual instrument, and cannot “magically” see through the clouds.

Therefore, whenever the clouds cover more than 50% of the sky at the time when the open viewing session is set to begin, the event is cancelled.

The best way to handle this is around the time you would prepare to come to the event, go outside and look up. Do you see more than half of the sky clearly, especially the southern half? If so, the event is on. If not, it is likely cancelled.

Spring 2018 Observatory Open House Schedule

Date Time
Tuesday, Jan. 23 7:00-8:00 PM
Tuesday, Feb. 6 7:00-8:00 PM
Tuesday, Feb. 20 7:30-8:30 PM
Tuesday, Mar. 6 7:30-8:30 PM
Tuesday, Mar. 27 8:30-9:30 PM
Tuesday, Apr. 3 8:30-9:30 PM
Tuesday, Apr. 17 9:00-10:00 PM
Tuesday, May 1 9:00-10:00 PM

Upcoming Astronomical Events

  • January 31, 2018 Lunar Eclipse: Viewers in Topeka will only be able to view this eclipse in its partial phase. The eclipse will start around 5:00 AM CST, and will still be in progress when the Moon sets at 7:00 AM CST, before the total eclipse is reached. Crane Observatory will not be open for this event.