Eastern Iowa Observatory & Learning Center

Eastern Iowa Observatory
Eastern Iowa Observatory
Exterior overview of buildings and facilities
Monthly astronomy program in Observatory classroom area
Interior hallway exhibits & program information

A relationship established in the early 1980s celebrated its special partnership in 2008 with the grand opening of the Eastern Iowa Observatory and Learning Center in Linn County! The Cedar Amateur Astronomers and the Linn County Conservation Board began working in tandem in 1983 out of a common interest to raise public awareness about astronomy through local educational programs. For nearly a quarter of a century, this partnership has flourished and blossomed – sustained by visionary leadership with support & participation from the Greater Cedar Rapids and Linn County communities.

By making available land and support facilities at their Palisades-Dows Preserve, the Conservation Board provided the opportunity for the Astronomers to install their first permanent domed structure and telescope in 1987. This was followed in the mid-1990s with a second facility containing a larger telescope. Over the past two and a half decades, the Cedar Amateur Astronomers have provided hundreds of free public programs and education sessions at the Pal-Dows Preserve and other Linn County Conservation venues.

In 2003, the Cedar Amateur Astronomers were the recipient of a gracious donation from the University of Iowa of a rare and valuable cassegrain telescope made by the Boller & Chivens division of Perkin-Elmer Corp. The research-quality telescope has a 24-inch mirror, and upon installation in a new location will have an estimated value over $250,000. The “new location” would be the premier public astronomy site in Iowa….the Eastern Iowa Observatory & Learning Center. As a 501(c)(3) organization, the C.A.A. launched a capital campaign in 2004 to raise the $700,000+ to construct the necessary support facility for the telescope(s), education programs and administration.

In partnership with the Linn County Conservation Board, the project was identified early in 2006 as a priority for the “15 in 5 – Community Planning Process” in the Greater Linn County area. In June of 2006, the effort received statewide support with a $250,000 Community Attraction and Tourism (CAT) Grant through the VISION IOWA program which “…..provides financial incentives to communities for the construction of recreational, cultural, educational or entertainment facilities that enhance the quality of life in Iowa”. Coupled with a $25,000 infusion from the Linn County Board of Supervisors, the Astronomers successfully raised the remaining $500,000 in private donations to fund the project to completion. The facility was gifted to Linn County in late 2007 for management by the Conservation Board.


The Eastern Iowa Observatory & Learning Center (EIOLC) is located in southern Linn County in Palisades-Dows Preserve located at 1365 Ivanhoe Rd, Ely, IA, 52227, click here for a map.

Operating Hours & Seasons

View upcoming public viewing opportunities and programs at  https://www.cedar-astronomers.org/

You may be able to schedule a program with the the Cedar Amateur Astronomers by contacting them at  www.cedar-astronomers.org/request-for-services