Oscar Mayer Observatory


Location: Bjorksten Pl, Fitchburg, WI

This small observatory, just off Fish Hatchery Road on property owned by Fitchburg Research Park Associates, was built about 1879-80 as a student observatory for UW-Madison. It was originally located on the shores of Lake Mendota, just east of the Washburn Observatory.

The University planned to tear down the observatory, but instead it was donated to the Madison Astronomical Society, a group of amateur astronomers. It was transported to its present site in 1960. Oscar Mayer Sr., an avid amateur astronomer, provided a large share of the moving costs, plus donated a telescope to equip the relocated observatory, and the building was renamed in his honor.

The Madison Astronomical Society used the building for meetings and stargazing until 1985 when the light pollution from the metropolitan area and the building’s old age made it impractical to use the structure any longer.

*The photo and text with minor editing has been taken from the Fitchburg Landmark Preservation Commission website with permission. http://www.fitchburgwi.gov/2156/Landmarks-Preservation