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Erwin W. Fick Observatory Records, 1972-2007, undated

 Sub-Group — Box: 1
Identifier: RS 13/20/6

Description of Material

This sub-group (1972-2007, undated) contains reports and information on proposals to upgrade the observatory telescope, related proposal correspondence, details on the actual upgrade, and a published calendar from Fick Observatory (2002). The records also include annual reports which were reprinted from Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society. The annual reports document equipment upgrades for the observatory and describe ongoing research performed by Iowa State astronomers during the year.


  • Creation: 1972-2007, undated

Language of Materials

From the Record Group:


Access Restrictions

Open for research.


Iowa State University's original telescope and observatory, located northwest of Ames, was donated by the family of Milo Mather of Clarksville, Iowa, following his death in 1960. Mather was an accomplished amateur astronomer and mechanical engineering graduate (1907) of Iowa State. In 1970, the mirror from his telescope was reconditioned and used in a newly reconfigured telescope, also named after Mather, and installed in the Erwin W. Fick Observatory.

Iowa State built its present observatory southwest of Boone, Iowa, in 1970. The facility was named after Erwin W. Fick (1897-1975), an amateur astronomer and retired member of the U.S. Corps of Engineers from Davenport, Iowa. Though Fick had never been to Ames, let alone graduated from Iowa State, he set up a trust through the ISU Foundation to help support Iowa State's observatory.

New imaging devices, such as the CCD (charge-coupled device) camera installed in 1990, and the short focal length of the telescope allow researchers to obtain wide-field views of the sky to very faint limits. Measurements gathered by the Mather telescope can be used to complement data obtained by larger observatories, which often sacrifice wide views for fine detail. Over the years, Iowa State researchers have used the Fick Observatory for a wide variety of studies, including stellar radial velocity observations, studies of ring galaxy collisions, and lunar occultation studies.


0.42 Linear Feet (1 document box)

Related collection materials

Additional information on Fick Observatory and the Mather Telescope can be found in the Iowa State University Buildings and Grounds File, RS 4/8/4.

Processing Information

Released on 2019-03-26.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives Repository

403 Parks Library
701 Morrill Road
Iowa State University
Ames Iowa 50011-2102 United States
(515) 294-6672