As the Birthplace of American Astronomy, The Cincinnati Observatory Center has a long and unique history which is tied directly to the city and citizens of Cincinnati, the University of Cincinnati and the neighborhoods of Mt. Adams, Hyde Park and Mt. Lookout. Our founder, Ormsby MacKnight Mitchel, went directly to citizens of Queen City of the West with a plan to do what could not be done anywhere else; build our Nation's first public observatory.
Community pride and support made it possible for Cincinnati to boast the world's second largest telescope at the time and begin the Observatory's mission of research and public education.
That mission continues today, over 160 years later, with research, public stargazes and classes, school & scout programming and teacher training in astronomy and space science. Untold numbers have gazed through our historic telescopes at the remarkable rings of Saturn and exclaimed, "WOW"!
Only ongoing support can insure that the Cincinnati Observatory Center remains the treasure that it is today. Your membership, unrestricted charitable contributions, and in-kind gifts will allow us to continue to offer the programs and telescope viewings that will take you to the Sun, Moon and Stars.
For further information please call (513) 321-5186, or email Craig Niemi, Executive Director.
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The Cincinnati Observatory celebrates a few individuals who, because of their commitment and talent, are recognized as essential to the institution's vitality. Ormsby MacKnight Mitchel, the fiery orator who founded the Observatory. John Quincy Adams, the sixth president of the United States who laid the cornerstone. Cleveland Abbe, who dreamed up the National Weather Service from his desk here at the "O". Jermain Porter, the director who raised funds for a new observatory and telescope. Paul Herget, director of the Minor Planet Institute who oversaw the Observatory's emergence into modern times. Paul Nohr, with his passing in June of 2006, now becomes a member of this pantheon.
By 1981, the 1941 11" Merz und Mahler telescope was long overdue for some TLC and restoration. Paul rolled up his sleeves and went to work.
When the painstaking job was complete, he moved onto the 1904 16" Alvan Clark and its mechanical clock drive. These telescopes, fully operational and available students and the general public, stand as a testament to his skill and dedication to the Observatory.
But Paul's mechanical genius only accounts for half of his contribution. If his restoration of the telescopes resuscitated the heart of Observatory then his passion for teaching-for the exchange of ideas-led to the emergence of the Observatory as the educational institution it is today.
There are many astronomers, young and old, around Cincinnati that will beam when you mention Paul's name. Each one of them will have a story of how Paul ignited in them an excitement for the stars. His teaching style, in fact, was not so much a "style" but simply his passion gushing forth as his ample mind raced to cover all the implications of a query.
For many, Paul was the Observatory. He represented everything that makes the "O" such a special place. He loved the history and brought it back to life. His teaching reached far and wide. His love of the stars was infectious.
While Paul's passing has been a loss for the Observatory, his legacy offers direction. Our classes provide an opportunity where students of all ages can meet up and challenge their curiosities.
This is Paul's bequest, one that we will forever appreciate and forever honor.All agree that Paul deserves recognition on level with the other giants of the Observatory. His memorial, a sundial accented by appropriate landscaping in the front circle, will be stalwart and permanent, useful on a daily basis as a teaching tool for visiting school children.
We are asking for your contributions to make Paul's memorial possible.
To learn more about Paul's contributions to the astronomical & educational communities, or for further information on the plans for his tribute, please call (513) 321-5186, or email Craig Niemi, Executive Director.
Paul's Tribute & Memorial Plans are available as a pdf file.