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: The new Cherry Grove roll-off roof observatory was completed for the 2013 observing season. Telescopes available at Cherry grove include a 12″ Meade SCT on a Mathis Instruments MI-500, German Equatorial mount along with a 16″ Meade SCT. The 24″ B.A.D. Starmaster Dobsonian is also 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). Members can park on the observing field during daytime work parties and during private observing sessions.
MAS members and guests are requested to NOT park on the observing field or along the edge of the observing field on the west side of the driveway during star parties or when multiple parties are present during observing sessions.
Driving on to the field to unload telescopes and accessories is permissible, as long as field conditions allow (not wet as in early spring when conditions lead to permanent ruts). However, you are requested to move your vehicle to the parking area to the east of the observatory after unloading equipment and while observing.
Members and guests are requested to park in a single row along the fence line on the east side of the parking area, and park facing outward at a 90 degree angle to the fence line to maximize parking spot availability. You can park as far as the northern edge of the driveway area past the end of the fenced section. Do not park up against the observatory or warming house – that is the driveway area. Parking in the designated area ensures maximum sky visibility and convenience for all attendees. If the parking area is full, parking along the side of the county roads should be considered for overflow parking.
When parking, take into consideration when you will be leaving in order to minimize light trespass from your vehicle when leaving. If possible, shut off internal dome lights and disable automatic exterior lights. Park along the eastern fence line, facing out from the fence at a 90 degree angle to the fence in order to minimize the effect of trunk or rear compartment lights when you are loading your equipment into your vehicle at the end of your observing session. By parking facing out the use of backup lights while exiting is reduced, preserving the night vision of those still observing. By parking facing out, you will also minimize chances of collision with other cars or people while exiting under dark conditions.
Considerable effort has been undertaken by the CGO committee over the years to maximize accessibility and usefulness of the observing field and to create the convenient parking area, and we wish to maintain the best user experience for all MAS members and guests.
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.