Astronomy Field Trips

Schedule is subject to change – check back here often!

Minnesota Astronomical Society Joseph J. Casby Observatory

Location:  Belwin Conservancy, Afton, MN

Tour Schedule:

  • Wednesday July 11 – 13:30-16:00
  • Wednesday July 11 – 20:00-00:00
  • Thursday July 12 – 13:30-16:00
  • Saturday July 13 – 09:30-12:00

Tour Cost: $50 – Including bus transportation – No personal vehicles allowed at JJ Casby Observatory

Notice: The Belwin Conservancy is a private organization and has an agreement with the Minnesota Astronomical Society. There is no public parking available at the JJ Casby Observatory. Tour group sizes will be limited and participants must take the transportation provided to and from the observatory.
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.

Science Museum of Minnesota and Omnitheater

Tour Schedule:

  • Wednesday July 11 – 12:00-16:00

Tour Cost: $25

Bus Transportation:  $35   (Public parking is available on-own)

The Science Museum of Minnesota, located in downtown St. Paul, offers a wide range of exhibits to explore. It was founded in 1907 and is a non-profit organization just like MAS. It has space for one travelling exhibit within it’s 370,000 square feet located on the banks of the mighty Mississippi River. It’s constant exhibits have a range of topics – from Dinosaurs and the human body to local Indian tribes of the Dakota and Ojibwe. The Science Museum also has the Omnitheater on it’s grounds that holds an IMAX screen as well as an Omnimax screen. The highlight of the Science Museum is the Experiment Gallery which allows visitors – both young and old – to explore concepts of math and physics as well as the natural sciences via interactive displays. During the Summer months, there’s an outdoor ‘putt putt’ course that allows visitors a real life lesson in erosion, water movement, and pollution.

Soar above the world’s tallest bridge and travel at speeds approaching 700 mph—all on the Omnitheater’s giant screen! In Dream Big: Engineering Our World, you’ll see engineering marvels from around the world—from the Great Wall of China and the world’s tallest skyscrapers to underwater robots and solar cars.  You’ll meet four real-life engineers who are making a living confronting real world problems with innovative solutions. Learn what led them to their careers, be inspired by their stories about succeeding against the odds, and walk away with a new appreciation for people who are using STEM to make life better for people all over the world.  Dream Big will transform the way you think about engineering, revealing the compassion and creativity that drive engineers to create a more sustainable future for all of us.

Minnesota Astronomical Society Eagle Lake Observatory

Carver County Baylor Regional Park
Address: 10775 County Road 33, Norwood-Young America, MN

Note: A Baylor Park parking pass will be made available from the Registration desk for a nominal fee – good for the entire week.

The Eagle Lake Observatory is the main public outreach facility for the MAS. The site consists of the Onan Observatory, the Sylvia A. Casby Observatory and the HotSpot Classroom. The Sylvia A. Casby Observatory and the HotSpot Classroom became operational in the 2013 observing season and accompany the existing Onan Observatory which held its first public star party on April 28, 2000.

The Onan Observatory houses more than a dozen telescopes on four observing platforms.

The Sylvia A. Casby Observatory houses an 8″ TMB design refractor, a Takahashi Mewlon 300 Dall-Kirkham and a SV102 refractor. These telescopes set on an Astro Physics 3600 GTO mount, under a 12.5 foot Ash-Dome. Each observatory has the capability to display live video images of what the telescopes are viewing. These images are shown on monitors in each observatory as well as in the HotSpot Classroom. The HotSpot classroom provides a much needed building to conduct our presentations as well as a warming room for our guests to relax and enjoy live video feeds from the observatories telescopes throughout the night.

Bell Museum and Planetarium at the University of Minnesota

Tour Schedule:

  • Wednesday July 11 – 17:30-21:00
  • Thursday July 12 – 09:30-12:30

Tour Cost: $20

Bus Transportation:  $20   (Public parking is available on-own)

Opening this summer at the St. Paul campusof the University of Minnesota, the new Bell Museum brings together science, art, and the environment with a unique Minnesota perspective. Our new home features a digital planetarium, high-tech exhibits, our famous wildlife dioramas, outdoor learning experiences and more.   The new facility is expected to triple the number of annual visitors to 105,000—and we hope you’re one of them. If you love to explore and discover, you’ll love the Bell Museum more than ever before!

Whitney and Elizabeth MacMillan Planetarium
Our state-of-the-art planetarium takes you on amazing journeys from the far reaches of the cosmos to deep inside the human brain. Using the latest technology to construct a “seamless” dome, our planetarium will be the first of its kind in the United States!

Immerse yourself in a journey through space and time in our awesome new planetarium—a community resource that has been missing in the Twin Cities since 2002. From the comfort of a plush reclining seat, you’ll feel like you’re flying through Earth’s atmosphere to the far reaches of the universe, delving inside plant life and the human body, or swimming the deep sea.

A 16-meter aluminum dome surrounds you in our new digital theater, offering larger-than-life views in front, above, and behind. Also, the dome will be constructed using the latest “seamless” technology, making it the first of its kind in the world! Scientific data merges with animations and video to create crisp and stunning imagery. 5.1 digital surround sound audio and theatrical lighting provide the finishing touches.

Exhibit Galleries  The permanent galleries—which include our world renowned wildlife dioramas—span space and time, from the origins of the universe, through the diversification of life on Earth, to Minnesota’s own unique habitats. Also, learn about U of M researchers who are working to create a better future for our evolving world.

Featuring our world renowned wildlife dioramas by Walter Breckenridge, Francis Lee Jaques, and John Jarosz, our permanent galleries will further connect people, nature, and the universe. These new galleries are organized by four themes:

Why is Earth special?  As Earth formed 4.5 billion years ago, it was bestowed with unique characteristics. Data and images from a wide variety of telescopes and other specialized instruments will reconstruct the story of Earth’s origins. This gallery will also show how modern astronomers continue the quest to find potentially life-bearing worlds beyond our solar system.

The tree of life  All species that ever were can be imagined as a tangled Tree of Life on Earth. In a constant, sometimes violent dance with our environment, species travel in space and time, chasing after habitats, sometimes multiplying, and sometimes disappearing forever. In this gallery, you’ll see examples of biological specimens that show adaptation, convergence and mutation illustrating evolution—the process by which genetic changes occur over time.

The web of life  Humans, just like herons or honey bees, must feed, reproduce, and raise their young. This gallery journeys through Minnesota’s biomes, including coniferous forests, prairies and prairie wetlands, big woods and big rivers. Explore ecological concepts such as species interactions, food webs, and nutrient cycling. Our Jaques dioramas are central to the design of this section.

Imagining our future  We as a species have triggered a new epoch in Earth’s history, where humans are no longer mere inhabitants, but in many ways, drivers of change. This gallery examines the influence people have had on the natural world, and University of Minnesota researchers driven to create a better future.

Touch & See Lab
The Bell Museum created the first natural history museum discovery room in the world, and we are proud to carry that tradition on in the new Touch & See Lab where all ages can actively learn through observation and sensory engagement.

Learning Landscapes
The learning continues outside with a second floor green roof and observation deck, and sustainable landscaping with native plants, geology exploration area, solar station, and other highlights on the ground floor.

John T. Tate Hall and Observatory at the University of Minnesota

Tour Schedule:

  • Thursday July 12 – 09:30-12:00
  • Thursday July 12 – 13:30-16:00

Tour Cost: $10

Bus Transportation:  $25   (Public parking is available on-own on the University  of Minnesota campus)

Join us at the newly renovated Tate Hall at the University of Minnesota Institute of Astrophysics.  The Tate laboratory is home to the classic telescope that was built around 1896 by the Warner & Swasey of Cleveland, Ohio, and has an unusual 10.5-inch double lens made by John A. Brashear of Allegheny, Penn.

Minnesota Astronomical Society Cherry Grove Observatory

Tour Schedule:

  • Thursday July 12 – 20:00-00:00

Tour Cost: $10

Bus Transportation:  $35 (Free parking is available, but space is very limited)

Observatory: The new Cherry Grove roll-off roof observatory was completed for the 2013 observing season. Telescopes available at Cherry grove include a 16″ Meade Schmitt Cassegrain on a fork mount and a 24″ B.A.D. Starmaster Dobsonian stored within the new observatory and is rolled out onto a concrete pad for use under the skies.

New in 2018 will be the CGO imaging platform, consisting of  a Takahashi FSQ-130 ED refractor, Planewave 12.5″ CDK, plus accessories, all riding on the Mathis Instruments MI-500 German Equatorial Mount.

Experienced members of the MAS will be hosting an imaging workshop.  Learn and see demonstrations of wide-field image aquisition with a DSLR, taking prime-focus images on color and monochrome astro cameras, and even some planetary imaging.  Visual observers are also welcome to join and observe.

The Baaken Museum

Tour Schedule:

  • Friday July 13 – 09:30-12:30

Tour Cost: $10

Bus Transportation:  $30 (Free parking is available)

The Bakken Museum inspires a passion for innovation by exploring the potential for science, technology, and the humanities to make the world a better place.

Since 1975, The Bakken Museum has been committed to nurturing a passion for science in visitors from around the world. Founded by Earl Bakken, a Minneapolis native and co-founder of Medtronic, The Bakken Museum offers something for everyone.  Located in the historic West Winds mansion on Bde Maka Ska (formerly known as Lake Calhoun) and home to the Florence Bakken Medicinal Gardens, The Bakken Museum boasts one of the most beautiful settings you will find in the Twin Cities. In addition, the museum maintains a world class collection of historic medical instruments and scientific as well as books, journals and manuscripts.  A Smithsonian affiliate, The Bakken Museum offers dynamic exhibit experiences and industry-leading STEM-focused education programs. Our experiences focus on the history and nature of electricity and magnetism, Minnesota’s medical technology industry and, of course, Frankenstein!  A historic mansion, unique collections, medicinal gardens, dynamic exhibits, and rich education experiences; The Bakken Museum truly has something everyone can enjoy