The Cumberland Astronomical Society (CAS) is a group of amateur astronomers made up of people from Gallatin, Tennessee and surround communities in middle Tennessee. Our club is a friendly group of people who gather at least once a month to discuss and observe the wonders of the skies. The club is meant for those who are just starting in the astronomy hobby and for those who have been exploring the night skies for many years. The emphasis is on enjoying the hobby and having an opportunity to share and learn from each other.
It’s not necessary to own telescopes or other equipment to enjoy this hobby. Some members enjoy directly observing the stars and planets, others use a simple pair of binoculars, and many own a telescope. It’s your choice about how to experience and enjoy astronomy.
CAS meets at 7:30 PM on the 3rd Thursday of every month at Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin TN where we typically have presentations on astronomy topics or related subjects. Our club is part of NASA’s Night Sky Network which provides access to astronomy education and communication resources for our club members. We are fortunate to have as our professional astronomy advisor Dr. Tim Farris, who is a faculty member for Astronomy/Engineering/Physics at Volunteer State Community College.
Weather permitting, we also schedule club star parties at nearby locations where we can observe the skies. We invite the public to our public star parties to encourage more people to take an interest in astronomy. Many of our members also volunteer their own time to visit schools, summer camps, libraries, etc. to provide astronomy learning sessions.
If you have questions about CAS, please see the CONTACT US page on this web site and fill out and submit the “Send a Message” form and we will get back to you. On the CALENDAR page of this web site you can view our club events with more information about times, dates, and locations.
Members and Friends images over the years
The beginnings of the Astronomical Club go back to 1982. It consisted of a group of five people who had an interest in astronomy, and wanted to share their thoughts and observations. Those five people were Professor Joe Watlington, Gordon Pafford, Earl Durham, Allen Smiley and myself, Frank Coley. We would meet once a month at one of the members’ homes to set up telescopes for observations and discussion amongst ourselves. This went on for a period of two years as the members of the group gradually lost interest. In 1985, I was working at Wolf Camera, selling telescopes and cameras. This is when I met Wayne Bomar, Superintendent of Bledsoe Creek State Park. He came in the store and purchased an 8 inch telescope for the park, and I asked if I would help him familiarize himself with the scope and to help him set up a program for Haley's comment.
This was the beginning of the Bledsoe Creek Astronomy and Telescope Club. I got in touch with some old friends and ask them if they would help with the “Comet Parties” at Bledsoe Creek State Park boat ramp. This was for the public to view Halley's Comet. The people who brought telescopes were Wayne Bowman, Cecil Johnson Tom Golden and myself, Frank Coley. This group held numerous viewing sessions during the winter of 1985 and 1986. In early 1986, with Halley's comet passing out of view the group decided to form an astronomy club. The Park’s willingness to furnish a telescope and viewing area for the public and private viewing sessions was very helpful in letting the public know that Sumner County had an astronomy club.
We held meetings at the park’s maintenance shop, where we made a video on how to setup and use a Meade 8 inch telescope. We soon had members joining from all over Middle Tennessee. At one point we had close to 40 members. Numerous star parties were held at the park’s boat ramp. We set up telescope displays and demonstrations on astronomy day at the local Walmart for the public to see what we have to offer. The public response was great. Once we had so many people at the boat ramp trying to look in the telescopes, the park had to close the gates.
The club decided to elect officers and seek a charter, however due to the Park's affiliation with the club it was decided that a charter could present legal problems for the State in the club. So the club remained a loosely organized group of individuals that continue to meet have star parties and viewing sessions at local schools and that the park. I, Franco Coley was elected first President of the Astronomy Club. I remain in that position until 1989. At that point in time, I took a job in Texas and the club elected Mike Neal, one of the senior members as Club President. Upon moving back to Tennessee in 1991, the club was started to show signs of weakness. People were not attending as often. In 1992, Mike Neal had to give up his position as president because he took a job in Kentucky. At this point the club became dysfunctional with very little activity until 1997.
In 1997, Randall Smart expressed an interest in getting the Astronomy Club revived. I gave him what information I had as far as past members and their addresses, the club's rules and regulations and wished him well. I told him I would be part of the club, but not active in the leadership of the club. After finding interesting people for the club again, Randall wish to change the name since it would no longer be directly affiliated with a Bledsoe Creek State Park. With a group of four people including myself, Randall Smart, Gail Ingrum and Richard Pryor, the name Cumberland Astronomical Society was chosen. Thus began the new club that still exist today.
Written by: Frank Coley 2006
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About the Cumberland Astronomical Society (CAS)
Cumberland Astronomical Society
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