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Department of Physics and Astronomy

  • CLose up of dials on the large telescope at the Melton Observatory

Melton Observatory

Located on the Horseshoe of the USC Columbia Campus, the Melton Memorial Observatory contains a 16-inch Cassegrain telescope that provides a stunning view of the night sky for research purposes, students, and the general public. 

Face-to-Face Stargazing at the Melton Observatory

November 22, 2021 (Update):

With heavy clouds expected, the Melton Memorial Observatory will be closed tonight (Monday, November 22). Our next attempt will take place on Monday, November 29.

For the foreseeable future, there will be set capacities of 4 guests in the dome at a time and 8 guests on the rooftop at a time due to COVID-19 protocols. Face coverings will be mandatory for all guests.

Feel free to visit our Facebook and Twitter pages for Monday evening forecast updates as well. Thank you for your interest in our programming!

In November 2021, The Daily Gamecock featured the Melton Memorial Observatory. To view the article, please take a look here.

Livestream Videos

Past Livesteams:
April 26, 2021
April 19, 2021
April 12, 2021
April 5, 2021
March 29, 2021
March 22, 2021
March 8, 2021
February 22, 2021
December 18, 2020 ("Great Conjunction" of Jupiter and Saturn)
November 23, 2020
November 16, 2020
November 2, 2020
October 19, 2020
October 12, 2020
October 5, 2020
July 13, 2020
May 11, 2020
April 27, 2020
April 20, 2020
April 13, 2020
April 6, 2020
April 3, 2020


The Melton Observatory is named for Dr. William Davis Melton, our university's president in the 1920s. Following his death in 1926, friend and alumnus, Edwin Seibels, donated $15,000 to build an observatory in Dr. Melton's name.



Our observatory is open to students and the public, for free, on Mondays between 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm. All age groups are welcome, but we ask that young children are kept under close supervision. Our equipment is sensitive and can be damaged easily.


Handicap Accessibility 

The lower level of our observatory is wheelchair accessible. Unfortunately, the upstairs and the restroom on the main level are not. We have installed a large monitor in the hallway of the main level so you can still enjoy views from the telescope even if you're not able to climb the stairs.

Evening Tours

During a night tour, your group will be given a tour of the building, dome and telescopes, and will observe a variety of objects such as the Moon, planets, stars, star clusters, nebulae, galaxies, and any other interesting objects currently in the sky depending on seeing conditions. Objects types, formation, size, distance, etc. are discussed. Contact us ahead of time to find out what objects will be visible to help plan your visit.

If cloudy weather is in the forecast for the day of your visit, we will reschedule your visit for another day. Please have a secondary date available when setting up your tour as this makes it easier to reschedule in the event of poor weather conditions.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.