About the Minnesota Astronomical Society

In 1972, Minneapolis-based E&W Optical Company was a haven for Twin Cities amateur astronomers seeking advice, optics for their projects or for commercially produced telescopes and accessories.

That year, then-president of the 3M Club Astronomical Society, Jim Fox, placed a poster at E&W suggesting to readers that “An Amateur Astronomy Club May Be Right For You”.  A dozen potential members attended an organizing meeting in November of 1972 at the Science Museum of Minnesota.  The ‘Twin City Astronomy Club’ was born.

From this humble beginning grew the Minnesota Astronomical Society.  Today, more than thirty years later, membership in the MAS exceeds 450 and we are one of the largest and most active amateur astronomy organizations in the United States..

Within this section of the web site, you can learn about the MAS and our activities.  Specific information includes:

  • A “frequently asked questions“, or “FAQ” section addressing the most common inquiries about the Society.

  • An overview of the Society’s monthly, business and special meetings.

  • Information regarding the Society’s current leadership (including contact information), and a directory of other individuals responsible for various aspects of our activities.

  • The MAS constitution.

  • A brief history of the Society.

  • A handy media guide providing news organizations and other media outlets with basic information and facts about the MAS.


History

November 21, 1972 Ten people interested in forming an astronomy club meet in the St. Paul Arts and Science Center at the invitation of Jim Fox, then-president of the 3M Club Astronomy Society.  A regular monthly meeting is scheduled for the first Tuesday of each month at 7:15 p.m. at the Science Museum of Minnesota.  The ‘Twin Cities Astronomy Club’ is selected as the name for the new group, edging out ‘Skyprobe’ by a narrow margin.  Those present donate $11.50, from which $3.64 is spent for a rubber stamp and $2.80 for postage, leaving the club with a balance of $5.06.
February 13, 1973 The club adopts its first constitution citing its purpose as: ‘increasing observational capabilities of its members; establishing information resources–especially a library–and sharing of information among the membership; promoting community knowledge about and involvement in amateur astronomy; and, creating good fellowship through mutual interest in astronomy.’  Dues are set at $15 per year for regular members and $5 for students.
March 6, 1973 Elections are conducted with 40 voting members.  Jim Witzany is elected as the club’s first President.  John Botkin and Doug Tweet are elected to the position of ‘Student Chairman’.  (In the early days of the TCAC, students had their own board, reporting to the regular board of directors.)
September 1973 TCAC offers its members discounted subscriptions to Sky & Telescope magazine.
October 2, 1973 Membership in the TCAC is 17 regular members and 19 student members.Members are introduced to a new magazine, Astronomy, costing $12 per year.The TCAC joins the Astronomical League. 
June 21, 1974 The club conducts a star party at Metcalf Nature Center.  The big attraction–a 14″ Celestron SCT.
April, 1976 Volume 1, number 1 of the club’s publication, GEMINI, is delivered to members.  The first issue is 10 pages in length.
August 6, 1976 The student section of the TCAC is disbanded due to lack of interest.
January 1, 1980 The TCAC is renamed the ‘Minnesota Astronomical Society’, and a new constitution is adopted.Membership: 86.
July 1980 The Society purchases the 16-inch, Group 128 cassegrain telescope from the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
August 15, 1980 Seven members move the 16-inch telescope from Duluth to the Twin Cities.
May 1, 1981 The Society hosts the annual convention of the North Central Region of the Astronomical League.