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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.  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!

Areal view of the RRO
Areal view of the River Ridge Observatory by John Reed

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 from March through October and 6 PM from November through February.  These are open to the public and preceded by an optional meal (See RSVP tab) – 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 from March through November.
  • 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 – CAAS is currently working with the Central Arkansas Library System, to establish a telescope lending program.
  • 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, the Summer Galaxy hunt and the Fall campout.  In addition members sometime organize small groups to take in a regional star party or conference.

Join Us

CAAS membership brings you into a community that uniquely shares your interest in astronomy where you can build your knowledge and skills as an observer at the eyepiece, or in the armchair.  Membership also provides an opportunity to share your enthusiasm with the public as a volunteer in the State’s most active outreach program.  You will automatically become a member of the Astronomical league, a $25 value all by itself.  This qualifies you to participate in the League’s many observing programs and receive the League’s quarterly publication, the Reflector. You can participate in the CAAS email list, where members can share, help, and learn from one another, as well as participate in member-only activities and get help through a member’s mentoring program. All memberships operate on a calendar year and come up for renewal on January 1. New members enjoy a prorated discount based on the quarter in which they join. For example, if you join in the first quarter you pay 100%, second quarter 75%, third quarter 50%, and finally fourth quarter 25%.

Follow this link for more details and join on line.

Star Parties and Other Special Events

From March to November every year the Central Arkansas Astronomical Society will hold public star parties at Pinnacle Mountain State Park, Woolly Hollow State Park, the Innovation Hub, and elsewhere.  These events are free and open to the public.  We want you to come.

From time to time, astronomical events such as meteor showers or eclipses will happen and we will open our doors to the public as well.  Since these events are often held at the River Ridge Observatory and space is limited a free registration is required.

What Membership in the Society Offers

Membership in the Central Arkansas Astronomical Society offers its members:

  • Access to the River Ridge Observatory for safe and private observing in a moderately dark sky environment. Our skies have been measured to have a 20.60 – 20.87 stellar magnitude per square arc second. Which in theory translates to 6.2 to 6.4 visual magnitude.
  • The fellowship of other people who love the night sky.
  • The mentorship of experienced observers and the opportunity to mentor someone.
  • Built in membership in the Astronomical League and opportunity to participate in their observing programs to enhance your skills.
  • Opportunity to use a robotic telescope to do actual research. One of our members has discovered previously unknown variable stars, another has confirmed the existence of an exoplanet, all from the River Ridge Observatory.

Associations

The Central Arkansas Astronomical Society is a proud member of the Astronomical League, the Night Sky Network, and the International Dark Sky Association.


Astronomical League

Night Sky Network

Arkansas Natural Sky Association

International Dark Sky Association

 

Credits for Images Above:

The Horsehead /Flame Nebula, North American/Pelican Neblua, and Andromeda Galaxy images above were taken by Danny Flippo.

The Total Solar Eclipse image was taken by John Reed.

The Partial Solar Eclipse image was taken by Jim Dixon.