Built in 1927 by Alvan Clark and Sons, the telescope originally operated on the roof of the Enoch Pratt Free Library until the 1950s. At that time, it was disassembled and in disrepair until a charitable family funded its installation at the Maryland Science Center in 1980. The telescope was then in use at the Science Center until the late 1980s, when it became inaccessible due to roof renovations. In 1997, the Observatory and telescope were renovated and reopened to the public.
The telescope is an 8″ (200mm) aperture refractor with a focal length of 119″ (3000mm), yielding a focal ratio of 15—ideal for solar, lunar, and planetary observing. Depending on the eyepiece, it can achieve a magnification from 55X to 300X.
The telescope is now computer-driven. For instance, to look at Jupiter simply point and click and the telescope slews to it automatically. It is also equipped with video cameras which enable it to project live images into the Davis Planetarium. When observing significant sky events, up to 144 people can watch as the revamped telescope relays images inside the Maryland Science Center.