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Von Braun Astronomical Society Collection

Identifier: MC-159
Documents and artifacts related to the Von Braun Astronomical Society.


  • 1959 - 1979


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research in the Archives & Special Collections reading room. Handling guidelines and use restrictions will be communicated and enforced by archives staff members.

Conditions Governing Use

This material may be protected under U. S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S. Code) which governs the making of photocopies or reproductions of copyrighted materials. You may use the digitized material for private study, scholarship, or research. Though the University of Alabama in Huntsville Archives and Special Collections has physical ownership of the material in its collections, in some cases we may not own the copyright to the material. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in our collections.


0.25 Linear Feet (1 box.)

Biographical / Historical

"In the fall of 1954, several Huntsville high school students decided to form a club to study astronomy. Failing at that time to interest more friends of their own age in the project, they asked for help from a group of scientists from the nearby Redstone Arsenal.

"At an early meeting, the scientists and the teenagers decided to form an association and buy a large telescope. Under the leadership of their president, Dr. Wernher von Braun, the members raised an initial $800 toward the cost of the telescope and authorized fellow member Wilhelm Angele to begin the design of the observatory building.

"Dr. Ernst Stuhlinger, another member of the association, took command of an aerial search for a suitable observatory site, finally selecting a 13.5-acre tract of land in Monte Sano State Park. The association leased the land from the State of Alabama and began the task of clearing it of trees and brush. Members cut and removed more than 3,000 trees, then borrowed a bulldozer to remove stumps and scrape a dirt-and-gravel road.

"One team led by Angele and Gerhard Heller fabricated the observatory dome, while another team, including all the officers of the association, poured thousands of pounds of concrete to form the telescope mount and the supporting ring for the dome. By the time the observatory was completed, $3,000 in cash and materials had been contributed by local firms and interested individuals. Later, the association acquired working capital through the sale of "Space Journal," a magazine started by association members."

Taken from "Von Braun Astronomical Association, Huntsville Alabama," a piece from the collection.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Jeff Bennett, 2019.

Processing Information

Collections are processed to a variety of levels, depending on the work necessary to make them usable, their perceived research value, the availability of staff, and competing priorities. The library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections as they are acquired and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.



Megan Sullivan
Description rules

Repository Details

Part of the The University of Alabama in Huntsville Archives & Special Collections Repository

M. Louis Salmon Library
301 Sparkman Drive
Huntsville, AL 35899 Alabama 35899 United States of America