Tucked away at the top of a hill behind some trees off U.S. Route 23 is Perkins Observatory, with a research facility that is part of Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware.
The facility, at 3199 Columbus Pike, is named for Hiram Perkins, who donated the money to build it he made through his hog business.
Assistant Director Don Stevens said the facility, which has the fourth-largest telescope in Ohio, performs research in addition to programming.
"We are an active research facility," he said.
Its 32-inch telescope sits inside a large dome made of 135,000 pounds of cast iron and sheet metal and features a railroad track used to open the dome for viewing.
The facility runs programs on Friday nights throughout the year, except July, when it offers a daytime program because the sun sets so late. The Friday night program, which runs about 90 minutes to two hours, often sells out, Stevens said. Visitors are advised to buy tickets in advance.
"We have had to turn people away," he said.
Due to safety, the program is capped at 80 participants.
"We are a small facility and that limits the number we can have," he said. "Fire code only allows us to have so many."
The facility usually has a few volunteers and only two staff members for programs, Director Tom Burns said.
The Friday program runs rain or shine. In addition to an informational program and a visit to the dome, participants view various displays in the basement that feature meteorites, star-gazing equipment, magazines, a light room showing color spectrums, a scale display using sports, play balls to show the difference in size between planets and the sun and other astronomy-related equipment.
The observatory also is offering a Thursday night lecture series for $8 per person.
All ages are invited, but the facility currently is not accessible to those with disabilities, and program participants must be able to climb stairs.
Advance tickets for the Friday night programs are $8 for adults, $6 for children and senior citizens. Tickets at the door, which might be limited, cost an additional $2. To order tickets, call 740-363-1257.
The observatory is on U.S. Route 23, a quarter mile south of state Route 315 and eight tenths of a mile north of Cheshire Road.
To learn more about the programs or for directions, visit perkins.owu.edu.