Founded in 1971, the Central Arkansas Astronomical Society is a member-owned, not-for-profit corporation dedicated to promoting amateur astronomy and recreational sky watching in central Arkansas, as well as bringing the reality of the universe closer to the general public. The membership is diverse in every dimension, the one common element being a shared interest in astronomy and science. The association is affiliated with NASA’s Night Sky Network, is a member of the Astronomical League and the International Dark-Sky Association.
The society owns and operates the River Ridge Observatory, located north of Lake Maumelle near Little Italy. On seven acres under moderately dark skies with an open southern horizon, the observatory has a small classroom facility for meetings, a club-house for conveniences and an observing field with pads for portable scopes. No Smoking Please!
Programs and Activities
- Public Nights/Meetings – Except for the members-only annual meeting in December, monthly program meetings are held at the River Ridge Observatory on a moonless Saturday evening each month at 7 pm when daylight savings time is in effect and 6 PM when central standard time is. These meetings are open to the public and preceded by an optional meal (See RSVP tab on the right) – StarBQ in the summer and Supper Bowl the rest of the year. Check our calendar for our next public night/meeting.
- Public Star Parties – Public Star parties are held each month in various public locations, usually Pinnacle Mountain or Woolly Hollow State Parks, from March through November. The club also participates in and hosts events at the Buffalo River Tyler Bend campground.
- Special Events – Special public events are held around unusual astronomical events, meteor showers, eclipses, occultations, comets, etc. or when an opportunity to have a unique lecture or program presents itself or a venue has special event in which CAAS can make a relevant contribution. These are held at various venues and the best way to learn about them is to register for our free event newsletter.
- Scout Troops and School Events – Private star parties are sometimes held for scout and select school groups at the observatory and programs are also done off-site for school groups, using the Club’s portable planetarium.
- RRORRT Project – In a joint venture with Arkansas Tech University, CAAS makes available a fully robotic 12” telescope fitted with and ST-9 ccd camera capable to doing scientific data gathering which is available to members and select secondary school programs.
- Library Telescope Program – With help from CAAS, the Central Arkansas Library System has established a very successful telescope lending program. We are currently assisting the Layman Library system to do the same.
- Member Only Events – The Club’s observing site is available to members for personal observing. In addition, a number of special observing events are organized for members each year, such as the annual Messier Marathon each March, and the Fall campout. In addition, members sometimes organize small groups to take in a regional star party or conference.