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All University of South Carolina system institutions will be closed through the end of the spring semester. Columbia campus virtual instruction will continue through the conclusion of final exams in May. Details can be found on the coronavirus landing page.

Department of Physics and Astronomy

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. 

Weekly Public Night Updates:

Due to COVID-19 concerns, the Melton Observatory will be closed on all Monday evenings for the foreseeable future. As the situation develops, the Department of Physics and Astronomy will provide updates via this website.

Thank you for your continued cooperation. Please stay safe and healthy!

Please visit our Facebook and Twitter accounts for Monday evening forecast updates. We will do our best to post status updates no later than 12:00 pm on Mondays. Thank you for your interest!


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 9:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. 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.