The Joseph J. Casby Observatory opened in the spring of 2010. The new observatory has one of the largest refracting telescopes in the state, a 10″ TMB f9 refractor driven by an Astro-Physics 3600GTO “el Capitan” mount. This professional quality telescope and mount are accompanied by a TMB 130 f7 scope and a ST 120 guide scope. The scope is housed within a 16.5 foot Ash-Dome observatory. The motorized dome is a first for the MAS and provides an appropriate home for such a high quality instrument.
The Belwin Conservancy is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation, restoration and appreciation of our natural world. Belwin Conservancy currently owns nearly 1400 acres in Afton and West Lakeland Township, MN comprising one of the largest privately owned nature preserves in the area. The Belwin Center and the trails near it are probably Belwin’s most iconic spot. This portion of the property houses Belwin’s headquarters and is used by the Saint Paul Public School System’s Belwin Outdoor Science Environmental Learning Center. Belwin Outdoor Science runs throughout the school year, and operates several summer programs that together host over 10,000 students every year.
Per agreement with the Belwin Conservancy, the site is designated for MAS members that have attended the Belwin Orientation. Those members may visit the Belwin site at any time, however, the main gate to the observatory and observing field is locked in the evening. MAS members that have attended orientation wishing to use the site should contact the site manager for the combination to the gate lock. A clipboard will be at the gate for members to sign-in when visiting the site. Be sure to review the “Visitation Rules” as well as the Guidelines / Procedures.
Parking at the observatory is limited. You are able to unload and load your scope near the observatory. There is also limited parking at the parking lot in the wooded area near the observatory or at the cul-de-sac.
Warming and Restrooms
MAS members are given a code to the deadbolt lock on the west door of the Belwin Center located near the observatory, providing warming facilities and restrooms.
Telescope pads and Electrical
Several electrical outlets are available on the exterior of the observatory. Three telescope pads are available for those wanting to bring their own telescopes to the site.