ob·​ser·​va·​to·​ry | \ əb-ˈzər-və-ˌtȯr-ē How to pronounce observatory (audio) \
plural observatories

Definition of observatory

1 : a building or place given over to or equipped for observation of natural phenomena (as in astronomy) also : an institution whose primary purpose is making such observations
2 : a situation or structure commanding a wide view

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Synonyms for observatory


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Examples of observatory in a Sentence

the observatory is located on a mountaintop
Recent Examples on the Web The move is meant to protect visitors and the workers who keep the facility running, Tony Beasley, the observatory director, said in a news release. USA TODAY, "Conch contest, golf tree, Geena Davis: News from around our 50 states," 9 Mar. 2020 Because not many observatories have gotten a clear look at the minimoon, astronomers haven’t had a chance to take measurements that would reveal what it’s made of. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "Earth’s New Minimoon Is Leaving Soon," 4 Mar. 2020 This is an exceedingly complex process, and there are more than 300 single points of failure on board the observatory. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Report: Webb telescope has just a 12 percent chance of making launch date," 29 Jan. 2020 When an eruption happens, scientists with the observatory use all their information streams to get warnings out. Anchorage Daily News, "Sifting Alaska volcano data paydirt could help researchers forecast eruptions," 5 Oct. 2019 This site is better known as a part of Mount Hamilton, the famous summit ridge with observatories. Tom Stienstra, SFChronicle.com, "Bay Area counties’ highest points offer some wonderful views," 5 Oct. 2019 The comet was discovered Aug. 30 by Gennady Borisov at an observatory in Nauchnij, Crimea. Doyle Rice, USA TODAY, "Cosmic rarity: New image shows interstellar comet zooming past the sun," 13 Dec. 2019 The group ultimately included data from 10 observatories, including large telescopes in Hawaii, the Hubble Space Telescope, and the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), an all-sky survey based at the Palomar Observatory in California. W. Wayt Gibbs, Science | AAAS, "Alien comets may be common, object from beyond Solar System suggests," 29 Oct. 2019 While looking at data from the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, an observatory in Chile, for an unrelated project, Williams noticed an unmistakable but faint dot of light. BostonGlobe.com, "A team of astronomers that included an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has discovered a massive “monster galaxy” 12.5 billion light-years away that was hiding behind a cloud of star dust.," 24 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'observatory.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of observatory

1673, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for observatory

probably from New Latin observatorium, from Latin observare

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Time Traveler for observatory

Time Traveler

The first known use of observatory was in 1673

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Statistics for observatory

Last Updated

30 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Observatory.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/observatory. Accessed 4 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for observatory


How to pronounce observatory (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of observatory

: a special building for studying stars, planets, weather, etc. : a building from which scientists study and watch the sky


ob·​ser·​va·​to·​ry | \ əb-ˈzər-və-ˌtȯr-ē How to pronounce observatory (audio) \
plural observatories

Kids Definition of observatory

: a place that has instruments for making observations (as of the stars)

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