Dr. Goethe Link and his observatory
In about 1939, Dr. Goethe Stone Link, a well-known Indianapolis surgeon and dedicated amateur astronomer, erected a 36-inch telescope and a large dome in a wooded area south of Indianapolis, near Brooklyn, Indiana, just thirty miles from Bloomington. There Dr. Link observed for his own pleasure and held open houses for the public as well. Dr. Link continued to practice medicine until he was well into his 80’s and was also a pioneering aeronaut who won the National Balloon Race in 1909!
Goethe Link was born in Pike County, Indiana on 20 May 1879 to Dr. William Hall Link and Phoebe Elizabeth Stone Link. He attended Wabash College for two years and then transferred to Indiana University, and there he received an M.D. degree in 1902. Practicing medicine in Indianapolis, he specialized in operations for goiter and thyroid. He is said (Wikipedia) to have performed more than 20,000 thyroid operations. He is also credited with the development of new instruments and techniques in this field. He was one of the founders of the Indiana University Medical School.
During the early years, the famous astronomer Harlow Shapley visited the site, and encouraged the Department to hire an additional astronomer to take advantage of this remarkable facility. F. K. Edmonson persuaded President Herman B Wells of the need, and James Cuffey joined the faculty in 1946. In 1948 Dr. Link donated the observatory and land to the Astronomy Department of Indiana University, and it was thereafter officially known as the Goethe Link Observatory. It was used for serious astronomical research until the mid-1980’s when increasing sky brightness from the suburbs of Indianapolis compromised the value of most research-level observations. It is now used primarily by the Indiana Astronomical Society, to which Dr. Link earlier belonged.
Dr. Goethe Link died 31 December 1980, just short of his 102nd birthday. By any standard, Dr. Link was a most remarkable man, and we gratefully acknowledge his many contributions to medicine, astronomy, and the community.
For more on the history of the Link Observatory, Thomas Borlik gave a very nice presentation during the Indiana Astronomical Society General Meeting celebrating the IAS 90th anniversary. We've supplied the link to the youtube recording for your convenience: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCCRdhwaZ9M