Stars Club Programs and Events

Stars Over Springfield

The public gathers for "Stars Over Springfield" outside the Springfield Science Museum.

Hosted by the Stars Club and the Springfield Science Museum, this public observing program is held on the first Friday of each month (September-May) at 7:30pm in the Tolman Auditorium at the museum. Admission is $3 per adult and $2 per child.

Stars Over Springfield features an introductory slide show presented by a Stars Club member in the Tolman Auditorium. Topics may include space exploration, seasonal sights of the night sky, current astronomical research or an explanation of special events such as an eclipse or the appearance of a comet. Presenters and topics vary from one month to the next.

Afterwards, visit the Museum's large rooftop observatory, which houses a 20-inch diameter telescope. Constructed by members of the Stars Club, the telescope and observatory were donated to the Museum in 1972. Weather permitting, this telescope is used to view sights in the night sky, which may include objects such as the Moon, a planet, star clusters, a nebula or a galaxy, depending on their visibility. Club members also set up telescopes outside the Museum.

In the event of cloudy weather, a show is presented in the Museum's Seymour Planetarium in place of using telescopes. Learn about the stars and constellations of the current season. The star projector at the center of the planetarium was designed and constructed between 1934 and 1937 by former Science Museum director Dr. Frank Korkosz. It is now the oldest operating American-built star projector in the world.

Stars Over Springfield is not held in June, July or August due to the late sunsets during these months.

Monthly Club Meetings

A Stars Club meeting in the Tolman Auditorium.

The Stars Club conducts its meetings on the fourth Tuesday of each month (from September-May) in the Tolman Auditorium at the Springfield Science Museum beginning at 7:30pm. Additionally, a June meeting is held as a "field trip" to an area location of astronomical interest. The club does not conduct meetings during July and August, but members do attend several astronomy conventions, including Stellafane, the Conjunction and Arunah Hill Days during these months.

Club meetings include a brief business segment at the start, followed by a presentation on a topic related to astronomy. Presentations range from non-technical for the beginning astronomer to intermediate and advanced, depending on the topic and speaker. Speakers include Stars Club members, members of other astronomy organizations and faculty from local colleges such as the University of Massachusetts. Following the presentation, a social hour is held with light refreshments being served. The public is always cordially invited to attend our club meetings held at the Science Museum free of charge. If you are interested in joining the Stars Club, simply attend one of our meetings.

Annual Stars Club Summer Picnic and Star Party

A rainbow appears over the Gemini Observatory at the 2000 club picnic. Photo courtesy Richard Sanderson.

For over twenty-five years, the Stars Club has held a picnic and star party in Buckland, MA at the home of longtime club member and award-winning telescope maker Dick Gerry. Despite Dick's passing in 1999, his wife Edie has continued to carry on the tradition by inviting us back every year since. The picnic is usually held on a Saturday in August (rain or shine) and features great food and great fun. Daylight hours feature tours of Dick's legacy, the Gemini Observatory, telescope displays, a swap table and of course, dinner. Then, observing begins at nightfall, featuring the clear, dark skies of the Berkshires. This members-only event is one of the highlights of the year!

In 2004, the Gemini Observatory underwent a major restoration thanks to the efforts of Stars Club member Dave Kelly, several other Stars Club members, and several members of the Amherst Area Amateur Astronomers Association. During the restorartion, a major portion of the roof was replaced, and a new aluminum exterior was added to the structure. The restoration effort ensures that the observatory will be ready to host the annual club picnic for many more years to come.

School and Public Star Parties

Members of the public await the chance to view Venus through a telescope at one of the Stars Club's public star parties.

In addition to Stars Over Springfield, the Stars Club also conducts star parties for the public, schools, scouts and other organizations by appointment and for special astronomical events such as an eclipse or the appearance of a bright comet. Part of the club's mission is to promote astronomy education. Over the years, we have visited schools in many local communities including Southwick, Agawam, East Longmeadow and Westfield. If your organization would like to have members of the Stars Club visit you with their telescopes for a star party, please contact us to make arrangements.

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