If you are looking for something different to do in Indiana, visit the IU Link Observatory Telescope between Mooresville and Martinsville, Indiana. It's a one tank trip from most places in Indiana, and it makes a great homeschool science field trip. Psst... It's not just for homeschoolers and science junkies. Architects, historians, and gardeners will love it too! Keep reading to find out why.
The Link Observatory is a magnificent piece of architecture in a beautiful setting. It sits atop a hill adjacent to a Daffodil garden. Completed in 1939, for Dr. Goethe Link, the domed structure is made of local wood from the property. The dome swivels for a panoramic view of the night sky. Until the 1980's the observatory was used for astronomical research. However, as the the city lights of Indianapolis grew, it made star viewing increasingly difficult.
The adjacent Daffodil garden is the perfect setting for a family picnic, to catch up on reading, to walk your dog, or to paint the gorgeous landscape. The day we visited, an artist was painting a lovely watercolor painting of the dome.
And this happened in 2018, Indiana native, David Wolf, electrical engineer, medical doctor, and astronaut, joined the Link Observatory Space Science Institute staff as Chief Science Officer. Dr. Wolf works with the Institute on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) educational programming, public engagement, and fundraising.
Link live events take place at area libraries. You can also invite them to do a program at your school, camp, or other event. Check the Link Telescope Event Calendar for activities at the observatory and within the surrounding communities. The Link Observatory is free to the public on the 1st Saturday of each month for night sky viewing and the 2nd Thursday of each month from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm for daytime tours of the telescope and facility.
We visited on a free Thursday. The docent was full of fun facts, science humor, and shared the interesting history of the observatory. It seems Mrs. Goethe planted and cultivated the Daffodils. There are several different species, still blooming after all of these years.
Tips for your Visit:
Don't expect anyone to greet you at the door. Just walk in and head up the steps to see the telescope.
If you visit during the day, pack a picnic lunch. You can tour the facility in under 20 minutes, but be sure to let the guide share the telescope's history with you. We even got a demonstration of the dome pivoting around its track.
When you're done, head over to Martinsville to visit the Martinsville Candy Kitchen or the Martinsville Farmer's Market.
Indiana: Between Camby and Moorseville on State Rd. 67 visit the Dr. Who Store and Museum
For more one tank trips and family friendly vacation ideas follow us on Instagram or check out our Things to Do on Vacation page.
Click here to find some cool kids telescopes.