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 predictive power of serology is worth the investment, said Jessica Metcalf, an epidemiologist at Princeton and one of the observatory team members. Veronique Greenwood, New York Times, "Scientists Are Trying to Spot New Viruses Before They Cause Pandemics," 15 Feb. 2021 The world’s largest solar observatory, the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, also released its first data. Charlie Wood, Popular Science, "The best space stories of 2020," 25 Dec. 2020 Calles are two of the many local businesses that have relied on a steady stream of observatory tourists. Fernando Alfonso Iii, CNN, "The economic loss of Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory is already being felt. It's also very personal," 6 Dec. 2020 Arecibo, a giant radio observatory nestled in the lush mountains of Puerto Rico, did some of the dreamiest work in astronomy. Marina Koren, The Atlantic, "The End of an Era in Astronomy," 19 Nov. 2020 One will be a laboratory and manufacturing facility, and the other will be a panoramic observatory similar to the ISS cupola. Daniel Oberhaus, Wired, "What Comes After the International Space Station?," 27 Oct. 2020 In August, as wildfires crept close to the historic Lick Observatory near San Jose, California, Claire Max watched as live webcams showed flames edging toward observatory buildings and several telescopes. Daniel Clery, Science | AAAS, "‘We’re part of the problem.’ Astronomers confront their role in—and vulnerability to—climate change," 7 Oct. 2020 In addition, archaeologists have discovered a Woodhenge at Cahokia – a circular celestial observatory made of large wooden posts. Jayur Mehta, The Conversation, "Cahokian culture spread across eastern North America 1,000 years ago in an early example of diaspora," 30 Oct. 2020 This radio telescope observatory captures a range of light signatures, which revealed the molecule among the unique chemistry of Titan's atmosphere. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Unusual molecule found in atmosphere on Saturn's moon Titan," 28 Oct. 2020

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

1 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Observatory.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/observatory. Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for observatory



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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