National Watch Company Observatory
In an effort
to create the most accurate watch possible, The Elgin National Watch Company
built an observatory in 1910, so that it could time their watches to the stars.
The observatory still stands on the northeast corner of Raymond and Watch streets.
The observatory housed a telescope that pointed exactly north and south and all
observations were made on the meridian. The process of comparing the time on
fixed stars required patience and skill. While viewing distant stars, the
operator would note their movements with a hair line in the
telescope. He would record it by pressing a button which recorded a
chronograph. A separate instrument, which tested the operator, corrected for
human error. As many as ten stars a night would be observed. Every room in the
factory that regulated watches had a sounding device that indicated the seconds,
which was wired to the observatory.
1959, the observatory was turned over to School District U-46. In 1964, a
planetarium was added. It now features special lighting, a concealed sound
system and 65 reclining seats. To learn more about the
Elgin National Watch Company Planetarium, visit their web site.