Eastern Iowa Observatory

On Saturday, May 7, 2011, my dad and I visited the Eastern Iowa Observatory, at Palisades-Dows Park, southeast of Cedar Rapids, IA. They put on a monthly star party for the general public. This night, there were over 100 people visiting the facility.The dome on the left houses the 24 inch telescope and the dome on the right houses the 16 inch telescope. Other volunteers setup their scopes for the public to view through.

I first heard about this observatory at the 2005 Texas Star Party, when someone gave a talk about how this group of individuals obtained the University of Iowa's 24 inch telescope from the observatory near Hills, Iowa. In the summer of 1973, I was being trained to be an observing assistant on this telescope to support the research the graduate students were doing. In the Fall of 1973, I interviewed for the observing assistant position and just missed out on the job. Below are pictures of the 24 inch telescope, the control panel, which they use today to find objects in the sky, and myself and my dad next to this historic telescope.

Much to my surprise, they also had the 16 inch telescope from the top of the Physics Building on the University of Iowa's campus. I used this telescope many times on top of the Physics Building, taking 35mm pictures through it. The best pictures I took were of Jupiter's moons coming out of the eclipse of the shadow of another. Below are pictures of the very telescope I used 38 years ago.

Click here to see the pictures I took on December 26, 1973 using this 16 inch on top of the Physics Bldg, using my 35mm Pentax camera and regular Tri-X film.

This is a series of Jupiter events that were advertised in the February, 1973 Sky and Telescope magazine, pg 93 - 96. In this event, the 2nd moon from the left is Io. It is being eclipsed by Ganymede's shadow. You can see it getting dimmer and disappearing and then getting brighter till the last frame where all 4 are visible.

This was quite a trip down memory lane for me. I was interested in seeing the 24 inch telescope again and had a marvelous surprise in seeing the 16 inch scope. My dad and I look at M5 through the 24 inch telescope, a superb view of this globular cluster. Through the 16 inch, we looked at a First Quarter Moon.

On July 31, 2014, Dad and I had the opportunity to view the domes on top of the University of Iowa's Physics Building.

The old, weathered silver dome (the left picture above) is where the 16 inch telescope was when I used it in the early 1970s. The picture to the right shows the old 16 inch dome and their new, white clam shell dome, housing a 17 inch Plane-Wave telescope (pictured below) that will be used on Public Nights and by students to do astronomical labs for their astronomy classes.

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