Pupin Hall / CU Campus Observatory

Columbia Astronomy

Astronomy was first taught at Columbia in 1757 and, during the intervening 262 years, has formed an important part of the University's curriculum, both as a discipline in which new scholars are trained, and as an introduction to the methodologies and perspectives of science for students pursuing other areas of inquiry. Columbia's first telescope was lent to George Washington for use in the Battle of Long Island; both the telescope and the battle were lost. It was thus not until 1857 that the first Professor of Astronomy was appointed. Early research highlights included the first applications of photography to stellar astrometry and spectroscopy (1863), and the first use of "modern" computing engines for calculations and data reduction (1934).