ob·​ser·​va·​to·​ry | \ əb-ˈzər-və-ˌtȯr-ē \
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


lookout, outlook, overlook

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Examples of observatory in a Sentence

the observatory is located on a mountaintop

Recent Examples on the Web

Several observatories initially didn't see anything unusual. Daniel Clery, Science | AAAS, "Ghostly particle caught in polar ice ushers in new way to look at the universe," 12 July 2018 Moments after the neutrino hit the IceCube detector, a series of astronomical observatories including the Fermi and Swift space telescopes picked up an outburst of activity from TXS 0506+056. John Wenz, Popular Mechanics, "Blaze It: Far-Out High-Energy Neutrino Came From a Blazar," 12 July 2018 Researchers have to use huge observatories to detect gravitational waves and there are currently only a few of these detectors on Earth. Mary Beth Griggs, The Verge, "Ancient black hole collision is the most massive researchers have ever observed," 3 Dec. 2018 Simulations by Sergio Martín and Juan Cortés, astronomers at the observatory, supported the thesis that some rows are aligned with sunrises on important dates. The Economist, "A southern-hemisphere Stonehenge is found in Chile," 26 May 2018 Launched in 1999, the XMM holds three high throughput X-ray telescopes and the first optical monitor flown in an X-ray observatory. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Supermassive Black Hole Spotted Sucking in Gas at a Third of Light Speed," 21 Sep. 2018 To understand glitches, a team of astronomers arranged to track the Vela pulsar for a period of three years using two radio telescopes (the Mount Pleasant observatory in Tasmania and the Ceduna Observatory on the Australian continent). John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Three years of staring lets scientists capture a neutron star “glitch”," 11 Apr. 2018 In May 2013, the second of Kepler's four orientation-maintaining reaction wheels failed, bringing an end to the observatory's original mission. Mike Wall, Space.com, "NASA's Kepler Planet-Hunting Space Telescope Wakes Up Again," 13 Oct. 2018 Astronomers use the orbiting observatory to peer deep into the cosmos, revealing faraway solar systems as well as galaxies and black holes. Marcia Dunn, The Seattle Times, "Hubble Space Telescope sidelined by serious pointing failure," 8 Oct. 2018

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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Last Updated

20 Jan 2019

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The first known use of observatory was in 1673

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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 \
plural observatories

Kids Definition of observatory

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

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