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70 miles SSE of the Twin Cities.
The Minnesota Astronomical Society owns a small parcel of land in Goodhue County known as “Cherry Grove”. It is the Society’s first “dark sky” site.
Cherry Grove is ideal for beginner to experienced amateur astronomers, particularly those interested in observing projects or astrophotography requiring darker skies. Cherry Grove offers nearly unobstructed views of the east, south and western skies.
Observatory: Construction of a new roll-off roof observatory began in the fall of 2012. The new observatory will be completed for the 2013 observing season which will feature a scope (to be determined) mounted on a recently donated Mathis Instruments MI-500, German Equatorial mount along with a 12″ Meade SCT. The 24″ B.A.D. Starmaster Dobsonian will also be stored within the new observatory and is rolled out onto a concrete pad for use under the skies.
Also available are two additional “on-site loaner” scopes. There is an 8″ Zhumell and a 10″ Meade Starfinder telescope for members’ use while at Cherry Grove. Both scopes are equipped with optical finders and Telrads, a collection of eyepieces, filters, star charts, planisphere and red flashlight.
Parking: There is parking space available on the east side of the property. Overflow parking is also available on the shoulder of 520th St. (Dodge County A), or members can park on the observing field when attendance is light enough to allow it.
Warming House: There is a one-room warming house with electric heat available to all MAS members. The warming house is equipped with a coffee pot and microwave oven (bring your own water). To acquire a code to the deadbolt lock, contact the MAS Secretary or Cherry Grove Site Manager listed below.
Restroom: There is a “rustic” outhouse west of the warming house, near the storage shed.
Electricity: There are electrical outlets on the exterior of the warming house.
Concrete Pads: There are two concrete pads available for use on the west side of the property. Both pads are equipped with electrical outlets.
Cherry Grove is located south of the Twin Cities in Goodhue County, about 20 miles south of Cannon Falls.
To reach Cherry Grove, head south on Highway 52. About six miles south of Cannon Falls, turn right onto Goodhue County Rd. 1 “WEST”. Follow County 1 straight south for about sixteen miles until you arrive at a “T” intersection. The observatory is immediately at your right, nestled in the shoulder of the “T”.
The Cherry Grove address is 8485 520th St. Kenyon Mn 55946. (520th street is Dodge County A). Be aware that most GPS maps do not place you properly at Cherry Grove based on this address. Click the map to Cherry Grove on the left to enlarge it. For an interactive map, visit our MAS Facilities page via the link in the left hand column or the link HERE.
The Cherry Grove site is available 24 hours a day. The deadbolt combinations, available to any MAS member, are required to use the observatory building and the warming house.
Note: Visitors who have limited experience attending a star party in a “dark-sky” location like Cherry Grove should review the MAS Star Party Guidelines.
Those who seek more detailed advice or answers to their questions may be more comfortable attending public viewing nights at our Onan Observatory at Baylor Regional Park. The observatory is always open on its scheduled public nights and staffed with volunteers ready and willing to help. Visit the Eagle Lake Observatory website for public event schedule and directions to the observatory.