Nassau Astronomical Station
A plaque at the site of this observatory reads: “This was the site of the Nassau Astronomical Station from 1957 to 2008. It was named in honor of Dr. Jason John Nassau, director of the Warner and Swasey Observatory, Case Western Reserve University, from 1924 to 1959. Under Dr. Nassau’s leadership, the Observatory became a great center for research, and a place to share the excitement of astronomy with the general public.” The Observatory’s central instrument was and remains a 36-inch reflector of Cassegrain design built by the Warner and Swasey Company, Cleveland, in 1957. The Observatory was used for research, public outreach, and was for a time operated remotely via the Internet until a lightning strike destroyed critical components. The facility lay dormant for several years before being acquired in 2008 by the Geauga Park District to become a feature of its Observatory Park. The park boasts another large reflector, a 25.5-inch Newtonian donated by the estate of Ohio telescope-building legend Norman Oberle, along with other astronomical and natural history attractions. Observatory Park opened in 2011. The park has been declared a Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association.
The observatory was acquired by the Geauga Park District in 2008 to become a major feature in their Observatory Park development. In August 2017 restoration of the telescope and its observatory was completed and regular public access restored. The astronomers’ bunkhouse was “redecorated,” museum features added to facilitate an understanding of how the observatory was used, and wheelchair accessibility provided to aid access to the observing floor. The 36-inch Nassau telescope is one of the largest publicly-accessible telescopes in Ohio; only the Ritter Telescope at the University of Toledo’s Ritter Astrophysical Research Center is larger, its primary mirror measuring one meter in diameter. The 36-inch telescope at the Warren Rupp Observatory, outside Mansfield, Ohio, is of different design but has the same size primary mirror.
Photos by James Guilford