Bringing the Skies Back Into Focus

In the early 1950s, under the direction of Millbrook science teacher Neale Howard, the boys of Millbrook took the school’s astronomy program to great heights. They built an observatory, located on the site of an old airplane hanger behind the zoo, and constructed a new telescope with a 12.5-inch mirror. During subsequent years and until Neale Howard's retirement in 1975, Millbrook’s astronomy program flourished. The observatory and telescope were featured in a 1954 Scientific American article, and in the late 1950s the boys participated in Project Moonwatch, with the goal of observing the first man-made satellites launched into space. In the late 1980s, under the direction of science teacher Bruce Rinker, the observatory and telescope were resurrected and used to study the skies once again.

In subsequent years, surrounding tree growth made the Howard Observatory limited in its scope, and a new observatory was built on the north slope of Mount Marcy using more modern equipment. The “old” observatory and telescope were abandoned.

Due to the enthusiasm and support of graduates from the early 1970s, efforts are now underway to restore the old telescope as a tribute to Neale Howard and the boys who built it. The goal is to display the large telescope as it appeared in those early years. If you're interested in learning more, please contact Director of Alumni Relations Eliza Chapman '12 at
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  • Henry Rust
    The Class of 1971 has been attempting to collect an oral history of the telescope and the part it has played in Millbrook's past. We hope to publish this as a companion to the restoration effort. If you have any memories or anecdotes that you would like included in our "Telescope Tales," please contact me or forward them along to
  • Julian Strauss
    I enjoyed the visit of Dan Cohen and his crew working on the restoration, and am sorry not to have been able to give more info, but I think is is a great idea, and project!
  • peter Hoyt
    This restoration effort means a lot to me and I applaud the school for supporting it. Neale Howard was the kindest man I ever knew. ....Pete Hoyt, 70