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 Hale and Hubble had the biggest telescopes in the world at their observatory. Freeman Dyson, The New York Review of Books, "The Power of Morphological Thinking," 7 Jan. 2020 An observatory was just named after Rubin, who died in 2016. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Hubble peeks at 'Godzilla galaxy'," 7 Jan. 2020 But even without its cryogenic coolant, the observatory was still a frigid 28 degrees above absolute zero -- minus 410 degrees Fahrenheit — behind its protective solar panel. William Harwood, CBS News, "The end of the road for NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope," 29 Jan. 2020 The observatory is one of five telescopes scheduled to be dismantled in exchange for permitting the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the Big Island. USA TODAY, "Purple haze, making the sausage, ‘Goodfellas’ tavern: News from around our 50 states," 14 Jan. 2020 The eruptions were confirmed by lighting and satellite data, the observatory said. Washington Post, "Aleutian volcano spews up ash cloud in two strong bursts," 8 Jan. 2020 That was 1913, when there were 80.5 hours of bright sunshine, or 24 percent of the possible amount, the observatory said. BostonGlobe.com, "If you feel like this past Sunday, with its slate-gray skies and drenching rain, said it all about this autumn, you may be on to something.," 27 Nov. 2019 The observatory said that a deal was reached between Kurdish forces and Russia to allow Syrian government forces to enter the Kurdish towns of Manbij and Kobane. SFChronicle.com, "Islamic State affiliates escape from camp in Syria as fight rages," 13 Oct. 2019 The observatory’s second section will be in Australia. Davide Castelvecchi, Scientific American, "Giant “Bubbles” Spotted Around Milky Way’s Black Hole," 11 Sep. 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

17 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Observatory.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/observatory. Accessed 17 Feb. 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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