Standeford Observatory — the smaller of the two campus observatories -- is home to a variety of telescopes. These instruments are used primarily for visual observations of the sky by MSU students and other observatory visitors. Standeford Observatory is staffed by undergraduate student observing assistants under the supervision of astronomy faculty members.
Standeford Observatory is located at the far south end of the campus, adjacent to the Ropes Course and about 150 yards west of Andreas Observatory. It can be reached by walking through the gate at the end of Lot 1 and following the gravel road south for about 400 yards.
Maps to Andreas and Standeford Observatories
Coordinates of Standeford Observatory:
- Longitude: 93o 59' 53" West
- Latitude: 44o 08' 19" North
- Elevation: 990 feet
Standeford Observatory is open regularly during the fall and spring observing seasons, and is used primarily by students in astronomy and related classes.
Hours and days of operation vary with the season, the weather, and demand. In general, the observatory is open Monday-Thursday between 9-11pm, contingent on the weather.
The Standeford Observatory invites the public to visit on clear Thursday evenings until Thanksgiving in the fall and after Spring Break in the spring semester. The University requires social distancing and face masks for all individuals on campus to slow the spread of coronavirus when you visit the observatory. In addition, we ask that if you visit the observatory to please call 507-389-6208 before you arrive to ensure that there is sufficient space for visitors on the platform. This line will only be operated when staff are at the observatory--if you receive no answer, Standeford is currently closed.
Students may bring friends who are not taking astronomy classes. If unsure of the weather affecting the opening of the Observatory, call 507-389-6208 during evening hours to determine whether it is open. Additionally, a sign on the gate at the south end of Lot 1 will indicate whether Standeford Observatory is open to the public.
Special public viewing events at Standeford Observatory are held occasionally during the year, sometimes in conjunction with Andreas Observatory. Targets of these special events in the past have included Comet Hale-Bopp, Comet Hyakutake, Comet Halley, lunar eclipses, solar eclipses, various planets, and the Moon. Announcements of special observing events will be made through the local news media and on the Calendar on the Astronomy homepage. Standeford Observatory is also open regularly to the public every Thursday evening during the fall and spring observing seasons.
Sky Conditions at Standeford Observatory
- Current cloud cover/radar: Radar and Satellite imaging data from the US National Weather Service and NOAA, presented by Accuweather
- Forecast cloud cover: A popular weather forecast for astronomers, produced using Canadian Meterological data
Inside the 3-meter Observa-DOME is the principal telescope at Standeford Observatory -- a 14" Meade LX200 (a 14-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain). This computerized telescope stores the coordinates of over 140,000 celestial objects in its memory.
The other telescopes at Standeford Observatory are used outside the dome, on the concrete pad. Most are Newtonians with Dobsonian mounts; all are mounted on rolling platforms for easy positioning around the pad.
The current roster of 'outside' telescopes includes the following:
- 12-inch Zhumell: Newtonian, Dobsonian mount
- 10-inch Zhumell: Newtonian, Dobsonian mount
- 10-inch Orion SkyQuest XT10 (12): Newtonian, Dobsonian mount
- 11-inch Celestron: Schmidt-Cassegrain, Alt-Az fork mount
- 10-inch Odyssey: Newtonian, Dobsonian mount
- 10-inch Meade DS-10A: Newtonian, Equatorial mount on pedestal
- 13-inch Odyssey: Newtonian, Dobsonian mount
- 10-inch Orion Deep Space Explorer: Newtonian, Dobsonian mount
We also maintain a collection of "vintage" telescopes for use during special events:
- 8-inch Dynascope: Newtonian, Equatorial mount on pedestal
- 5.5-inch Celestron Comet Catcher: Schmidt-Newtonian, Alt-Az mount on tripod
Observatory visitors are encouraged to walk from campus if possible. Those who must drive to campus may park in the south end of Lot 1 (near the Gage dormitories) and walk to the observatory.