Friday, September 19, 2008

Goodsell Observatory, Part II

Meteorite (from Meteor Canyon, Arizona) in Goodsell Observatory.

When you enter Goodsell Observatory, the first thing you see is a large, drum-shaped wood and glass display case containing the Carleton meteorite collection. The core of the collection came to the college in the years 1942-1946, when Dr. Harvey H. Nininger (1887-1986) gave them to the college in lieu of his daughter Margaret's tuition. Imagine paying for your child's college tuition with rocks! But meteorites are not ordinary rocks—they're iron-rich extraterrestrial rocks, and they're valuable. For example, in 1958, Dr. Nininger sold 21% of his collection —1,200 specimens—to the British Museum for a total of $140,000. That's just under a million dollars in 2007 inflation-adjusted dollars.

In the 1930s and 1940s, Dr. Nininger amassed the nation's largest collections of meteorites, and wrote several books on the subject. His first book on meteorites was Our Stone-Pelted Planet (1933). During the 1940s and 40s, his collection was on display at the American Meteorite Museum, a roadside attraction along Route 66 near Winslow, Arizona, opposite Meteor Crater. The largest specimen in Carleton's collection, weighing over 250 pounds (see above), comes from Meteor Crater.

Here are some more views of Goodsell Observatory.

Front view (from the southeast)

From the east (enlarge to see the gibbous moon above the dome)

The old telescope in the south dome (above the main entrance pictured above)

2 comments:

Jim H. said...

"Gibbous" is one of my favorite words.

2009 is The International Year of Astronomy. Read more about it at http://www.astronomy2009.org.

arahsae said...

The observatory is gorgeous and I love that old telescope. (No capers allowed in observatories--ventures and enterprises, yes; capers, no.)

And now I will stop, I promise.

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