/euhb zerr"veuh tawr'ee, -tohr'ee/, n., pl. observatories.
1. a place or building equipped and used for making observations of astronomical, meteorological, or other natural phenomena, esp. a place equipped with a powerful telescope for observing the planets and stars.
2. an institution that controls or carries on the work of such a place.
3. a place or structure that provides an extensive view; lookout.
[1670-80; < L observa(re) to OBSERVE + -TORY2]

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Structure containing telescopes and other instruments for observing celestial objects and phenomena.

Observatories can be classified by the part of the electromagnetic spectrum they can receive. Most are optical, observing in and near the region of the visible spectrum. Some are equipped to detect radio waves; others (space observatories) are Earth satellites and other spacecraft that carry special telescopes and detectors to study celestial sources of high-energy radiation (e.g., gamma rays, ultraviolet radiation, X rays) from above the atmosphere. Stonehenge may have been an early predecessor of the optical observatory. Perhaps the first observatory that used instruments to accurately measure the positions of celestial objects was built с 150 BC by Hipparchus. The first notable premodern European observatory was that at Uraniborg, built for Tycho Brahe in 1576. Observatory House, in Slough, Eng., built and operated by William Herschel (see Herschel family), was one of the technical wonders of the 18th century. Today the world's largest groupings of optical telescopes are atop Mauna Kea, in Hawaii, and Cerro Tololo, in Chile. Other major observatories include Arecibo Observatory; Mount Wilson Observatory; Palomar Observatory; and Royal Greenwich Observatory.
(as used in expressions)

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Observatory — Ob*serv a*to*ry, n.; pl. {Observatories}. [Cf. F. observatoire.] 1. A place or building for making observations on the heavenly bodies. [1913 Webster] The new observatory in Greenwich Park. Evelyn. [1913 Webster] 2. A building fitted with… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • observatory — (n.) building for observing astronomical phenomena, 1670s (in reference to Greenwich), from Fr. observatoire, from observer (v.); see OBSERVE (Cf. observe) …   Etymology dictionary

  • observatory — ► NOUN (pl. observatories) ▪ a room or building housing an astronomical telescope or other scientific equipment for the study of natural phenomena …   English terms dictionary

  • observatory — [əb zʉrv′ə tôr΄ē] n. pl. observatories [ModL observatorium < pp. of L observare: see OBSERVE] 1. a) a building equipped for scientific observation, esp. such a building with a large telescope for astronomical research b) an institution for… …   English World dictionary

  • Observatory — This article is about scientific observatories. For the suburb of Cape Town, see Observatory, Cape Town. For other uses, see The Observatory (disambiguation). The Sphinx Observatory at the Jungfraujoch in the Swiss Alps; high altitude… …   Wikipedia

  • observatory — Synonyms and related words: Cassegrainian telescope, Newtonian telescope, OAO, OSO, Texas tower, astronomical observatory, astronomical telescope, beacon, belvedere, bleachers, bridge, coelostat, conning tower, coronagraph, coronograph, gallery,… …   Moby Thesaurus

  • observatory — n 1. astronomical observatory, Orbiting Astronomical Observatory, OAO. 2. tower, watchtower, observation post, lookout Naut. crow s nest …   A Note on the Style of the synonym finder

  • observatory — UK [əbˈzɜː(r)vətrɪ] / US [əbˈzɜrvəˌtɔrɪ] noun [countable] Word forms observatory : singular observatory plural observatories a study centre or a building with a telescope which scientists called astronomers use to study the stars and planets …   English dictionary

  • observatory — [[t]əbzɜ͟ː(r)vətri, AM tɔːri[/t]] observatories N COUNT An observatory is a building with a large telescope from which scientists study things such as the planets by watching them …   English dictionary

  • observatory — noun (C) a special building from which scientists watch the moon, stars, weather etc: the Greenwich Observatory …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

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