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Goethe Link Observatory

goethe link

The Goethe Link Observatory, located on a high bluff near Brooklyn Indiana, about 20 miles southwest of Indianapolis, is home to a 0.91-m reflector and a 10-inch astrograph.  (Image credit: Indianapolis Astronomical Society)

The 0.91-meter telescope was completed 1939 as the private observatory of Dr. Goethe Link, a noted Indianapolis surgeon and amateur astronomer.  The primary mirror is a Corning honeycomb test pouring for the 200-inch telescope.  The original optical configuration was Newtonian.  The observatory complex includes a kitchen, a library, and a 150-seat auditorium. More information on the history of the Goethe Link Observatory is available from the Indiana Astronomical Society.

The Goethe Link Observatory was donated to Indiana University in 1948 and was used regularly for research until the mid-1980's, by which time the night sky brightness from the Indianapolis suburbs had substantially restricted the breadth of research possible from the site.  In 1964 the Newtonian optics were converted to an f/10 Cassegrain system.  To avoid perforating the honeycomb primary mirror the focus is diverted to any one of three Nasmyth foci by a folding flat above the primary mirror.  This has the advantage of allowing several instruments to remain simultaneously mounted on the telescope.  Instruments used there during the 1950-80's include a photographic camera, photoelectric photometer, scanning spectrometer, and slit spectrograph.  Topics studied include galactic clusters, cool star spectrophotometry, and spectroscopy of interacting binary stars. 

A roll-off-roof observatory on the grounds once housed a 10-inch astrographic camera, on loan from the Cincinnati Observatory. The 10-inch astrograph was used during the 1950-60's to recover asteroids whose orbits had been "lost" during the interruption of regular astronomical observations that occurred worldwide during World War II.  These observations also led to the discovery of many new minor planets, and over a hundred new Link asteroids were named as a result. The Astrograph has since been returned to the Cincinnati Observatory and a new telescope has been installed under the roll-off roof.

The observatory is now used jointly by Indiana University, the Indiana Astronomical Society, an amateur astronomy group based in central Indiana to which Dr. Link belonged, and the Link Observatory Space Science Institute.

Additional historical information on the Goethe Link Observatory can be found in an article by Victor Maier which appeared in the May 1940 issue of Popular Astronomy magazine, an article by Frank Edmondson which appeared in the December 1948 issue of Sky and Telescope magazine, and an article by Kent Honeycutt which appeared in the December 1978 issue of Sky and Telescope.

Located at : 8403 Observatory Road, Martinsville, IN  46151, on the west side of SR 67.

For information on events, contact the Indiana Astronomical Society or the Link Observatory Space Science Institute.