Goodsell Observatory

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Goodsell Observatory
Goodsell Observatory.jpg
Goodsell Observatory from the south
Organization Carleton College
Location Northfield, Minnesota, U.S.A.
Coordinates 44°27′42″N 93°09′08″W / 44.46167°N 93.15222°W / 44.46167; -93.15222
Altitude 290 meters
Weather See the Clear Sky Clock
Established 1886
Website [1]
John Brashear 16.5-inch aperture refractor
Alvan Clark

8.25-inch aperture refractor

Goodsell Observatory--Carleton College
Goodsell Observatory is located in Minnesota
Goodsell Observatory
Location Off 1st St., E., Northfield, Minnesota
Coordinates 44°27′43″N 93°9′9″W / 44.46194°N 93.15250°W / 44.46194; -93.15250Coordinates: 44°27′43″N 93°9′9″W / 44.46194°N 93.15250°W / 44.46194; -93.15250
Area less than one acre
Built 1887
Architectural style Romanesque
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 75001025[1]
Added to NRHP May 12, 1975

Goodsell Observatory is an observatory at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, United States. It was constructed in 1887 and was, at the time, the largest observatory in the state of Minnesota. It was named for Charles Goodsell, who donated much of the land on which Carleton was founded. Goodsell was built to replace Carleton's original observatory, which had been built in 1877 and would be razed in 1905 to make room for Laird Hall. Goodsell Observatory was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 for its national significance in the themes of architecture, communications, education, engineering, literature, and science.[2]

The observatory's first central telescope, purchased in 1877, was an 814" refractor manufactured by Alvan Clark & Sons. In 1890 the college acquired a 16.2" refractor produced by the famous John Brashear of Pennsylvania. It was then the twelfth largest refractor in the world and sixth largest in the United States. In 1922 Carleton professor Edward Fath constructed one of the nation's first photoelectric photometers in Goodsell.

From the late 19th century to the end of the World War II, Goodsell kept the time for every major railroad west of the Mississippi, including Northern Pacific Railway, the Great Northern Railway, the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad, and the St. Paul, Minneapolis and Manitoba Railway.

A U.S. Army Signal Corps station was placed at the observatory in 1881 and transmitted meteorological data to Washington. Goodsell also served as the headquarters of a state weather service from 1883 to 1886.

Goodsell served as the model for the Chamberlin Observatory at the University of Denver.

The collection of meteorites on display in Goodsell was given to the college by the meteoriticist Harvey H. Nininger as payment-in-kind for his daughter's tuition in 1942.



  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  2. ^ "Goodsell Observatory, Carleton College". Minnesota National Register Properties Database. Minnesota Historical Society. 2009. Retrieved 2015-06-23. 
  • Headley, Leal and Merrill Jarchow, Carleton: The First Century, (Northfield, 1966).
  • Leonard, Delavan, The History of Carleton College, (Chicago, 1904).

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