LaGrange Observatory Overture

As many of you are aware, our club’s history is bound to the history of the LaGrange Living Historical Association through an observatory that was built within LaGrange College Site Park in the 1960’s.  Because I’m a newcomer to the area, I cannot add anything to the narrative, other than a casual awareness that there was an observatory that had recently gone unused.

After Dr. Blake made his trip to the Park last weekend, he and I followed up by attending the LaGrange Living Historical Association meeting this past Thursday.  On Saturday, I met L. C. and Louise Lenz again and took even more photos.  Skipping to points relevant to the club’s curiosity, the observatory is still dry and stable and the roll-off roof doesn’t leak.  At first glance, the home-brew scope could use some TLC, the mount needs a thorough cleaning, and the roof rails must be completely replaced.

Oh, and one other quick point: the park’s caretakers definitely want our club members to breathe some life into the observatory.  At no point did we feel any pressure from the group; neither did we make any promises on behalf of the club, but there’s a few points that deserve our attention:

  • The roof rails would likely be the least expensive part of an observatory overhaul, thanks to the overall good condition of the building.
  • A sweetgum and pine tree to the observatory’s southeast are the only ones being considered for removal.
  • From the structural appearances, the telescope should be able to withstand a servicing.  I have not cranked up the motor, but if I have three things to consider repairing (rails, OTA, mount) and must choose two, the mount can be replaced without really affecting the charm of the homebrew scope.  If the mount still works after being serviced, bonus!
  • Their cleanup of stored items won’t happen until we remove the scope and/or mount for service.
  • We have not done a sky evaluation.

We’ll discuss this more at our meeting April 27th.
Clear skies!

More pictures:

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