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 club 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!
Programs and Activities
- Monthly Club 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 during Daylight Savings Time and 6 PM Standard Time. 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.
- 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.
In addition to this website, the club has a Facebook page that tracks all news relevant to astronomy and space exploration with over three thousand followers. We offer a free newsletter for those who wish to stay abreast of what is happening in astronomy here in central Arkansas, which is the best way to get in on Special Events in a timely fashion; important as some are limited as to registration. In addition, Friends of CAAS and members can sign up for the membership list-service where members exchange ideas and information.
Officers & Board Members for 2017
- President – Nathan James
- Vice President – Ed Swaim
- Treasurer – Jim Dixon
- Secretary – Steve Block
- Board Member – Carl Freyaldenhoven
- Board Member – Danny Flippo
- Board Member – Darrell Heath
- Board Member – Chris Lasley