Doane Observatory

Side view of the Doane Observatory on a summer's day.

The Adler Planetarium’s Doane Observatory is pretty special. It is home to the largest aperture telescope available to the public in the Chicagoland area! That means that guests get to see the sharpest and brightest view of our universe that Chicago has to offer. It gathers over 5,000 times more light than the unaided human eye, allowing you to see celestial objects that are trillions of miles away. And we think that’s pretty cool!

*Note that the Doane Observatory is currently closed as we work to install a new telescope. Watch this space for more information as we work to get the Observatory back open to the public!

Observing Opportunities


10:00 am–1:00 pm*
Weather permitting

The Doane is open to the public periodically for safe, daytime telescope views of the Sun. We suggest inquiring at the Box Office when you arrive at the Adler to find out if the Observatory is open on the day of your visit.

Access to the Observatory is facilitated by Adler Planetarium telescope volunteers; as such, this schedule may change without prior notice.

Doane at Dusk

While the Observatory is open periodically during daytime hours, Doane at Dusk offers visitors a unique opportunity to see a variety of celestial objects, like Jupiter or Saturn, with nighttime telescope viewing. These events are offered throughout the year and are free to the public!

Adler Events

Often during evening events, the Doane Observatory is open for viewing or ticketed tours. These events include Adler After DarkFamily After Dark, and Members’ Night. Unsure if the Doane is open during the event you’re attending? Just ask an Adler staff member (in the grey and yellow shirts)!

Visiting the Doane

Where Can I Find the Doane Observatory?

Great question! The Doane is actually located outside of the Adler. You can find it to the east of our main building, right next to the shores of Lake Michigan. Just follow the sidewalk around the building. If the doors are open, you’re welcome to come on in and check out the sights!

Visitors at the Doane Observatory

Our Team

Our Observatory is staffed by some of the most awesome, trained telescope volunteers this corner of the Milky Way. Each volunteer goes through technical training on how to operate a telescope and learns practical observing techniques. Plus, they’re equipped with a ton of cool facts and information about the Sun and other celestial objects.

Technical Details

Alright, we know some of you are wondering what kind of specs we’ve got, so here you go!

The Doane is a classical Cassegrain reflector. This means that it uses curved mirrors to collect and magnify light. It is mounted on a fork-style equatorial mounting that continually moves the 500-pound telescope so that it can precisely track celestial objects. The tracking system relies on a clock drive that turns the telescope at the same rate as the Earth rotates.

The Doane has a 0.5 m diameter aperture and 4 m focal length, which give a focal ratio of f/8 at prime focus. The mirrors are coated with a special aluminum compound to make them as reflective as possible at optical wavelengths.

It’s also equipped with a Coronado SolarMax 90 hydrogen-alpha telescope and a dense filter for our “white-light” telescope that allows us to offer safe daytime viewings of the Sun!

The Adler Planetarium is grateful to the Petrovich Family Foundation and Jeff Rothstein for their leadership and generous support of the Doane Observatory renovation.


Your all-access pass to our universe!

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