Jump to content


Photo

Starting a new Astro Club. NEED HELP

  • Please log in to reply
22 replies to this topic

#1 orion61

orion61

    Aurora

  • *****
  • Posts: 4576
  • Joined: 20 Oct 2007
  • Loc: Birthplace James T Kirk

Posted 12 April 2013 - 09:52 PM

Hi all I have been given the opportunity to open a new Astronomy Club in NW Iowa in the new Nature Center in Peterson Iowa.
A beautiful open Dark Sky location in a new facility, Best of all have been welcomed open Armed, free of charge.
I am looking for some help starting right.
Any suggestions, wish my club would have done this, kind of help.
I am also looking for Legal advise, The NC has insurance but am wondering what else I need. also links and paper handout material suggestions.
A meeting planner help would be super.. What do you do.
How much for annual fees etc.
A local Radio Station will provide ads as long as this is a non-Profit club. How much fees do you charge/pay?
I realize it is going to be a lot of work for me but I am
up for it..
I have my old Criterion RV6 Reflector that still works great, I have completely refurbished it, It has wonderful
optics, and I will be keeping it there for checkout to
members that don't have a scope. I have to put together a somewhat legal loan form.....
They will provide a meeting room, a Key for me. and Heat/Air
for comfort. All in All a real dream of mine.
I wish I would have had this as a kid.
Again any comments/help is appreciated... and it is not
ultimately FOR ME....
Name suggestions too??
Thanks All
Larry Beach

#2 kfiscus

kfiscus

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2168
  • Joined: 09 Jul 2012
  • Loc: Albert Lea, MN, USA

Posted 12 April 2013 - 10:29 PM

Do NOT try to carry the load alone.
Charge as low a fee as possible- but having a minimal amount may help people commit.
You'll get lots of great (sometimes conflicting) advice from people here. The personality of the group is the wild card. Some groups keep things very informal, others become very technical.
I wish you all the best and wish I lived closer. (Albert Lea, MN)

#3 buddyjesus

buddyjesus

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2236
  • Joined: 07 Jul 2010
  • Loc: Davison, Michigan

Posted 13 April 2013 - 01:49 AM

Near where I live there are two groups I attend, though I am not an officer in either.

one costs 35$ and that includes an AL membership to achieve pins and such.

the other is free and is at a nature center. Don't know if they are donation based or have an established fund and don't need any more. they even have an observatory with a huge scope in it.

I wish you best of luck.

#4 orion61

orion61

    Aurora

  • *****
  • Posts: 4576
  • Joined: 20 Oct 2007
  • Loc: Birthplace James T Kirk

Posted 13 April 2013 - 08:53 AM

We won't have an Observatory, tho I do have a Compustar 14
I can bring. I also have a Meade LXD-75 SN8, a C8 and smaller stuff. so we can get started.
I figured we need a guy in charge, I can do that the first year, a treasurer/recorder. Does your club supply Sky & Telescope Mag?
I was thinking a small fee of $20.00 annually to start.
I don't know how many people we will get. I figure a lot of kids might want to join but I dont want to start a romper room club, so Parents would have to be there, so do I charge them too? So many questions.
Also how many times a month do you meet once or twice?

#5 MikeBOKC

MikeBOKC

    Aurora

  • *****
  • Posts: 4500
  • Joined: 10 May 2010
  • Loc: Oklahoma City, OK

Posted 13 April 2013 - 09:07 AM

Affiliation with the Astronomical League, which most clubs have, gives you listings on their website and I think discount subscriptions to the major magazines for club members. Plus there are a lot of AL observing programs and awards. Our club charges $36 for a family membership and somewhat less for student members. There is one regular meeting each month (usually with a speaker, who is often drawn from membership, or maybe a local college faculty) and at least two observing nights each month on the moonless Saturdays. Plus consider outreach -- public star parties at convenient locations or built around a local event, which can build membership.

#6 orion61

orion61

    Aurora

  • *****
  • Posts: 4576
  • Joined: 20 Oct 2007
  • Loc: Birthplace James T Kirk

Posted 13 April 2013 - 10:00 AM

This is the exact kind of reply that I had hoped for.
Anybody have any contact information for the Astronomical League?

#7 Doc Willie

Doc Willie

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1640
  • Joined: 31 Mar 2010
  • Loc: Mid-Hudson Valley, NY, USA

Posted 13 April 2013 - 05:05 PM

If you do not have the resources for a website, you could set up a site on the Night Sky Network. You can set up a Group on Yahoo for free to do your club discussions.

#8 orion61

orion61

    Aurora

  • *****
  • Posts: 4576
  • Joined: 20 Oct 2007
  • Loc: Birthplace James T Kirk

Posted 13 April 2013 - 05:53 PM

Your Wife a Trek fan too?
Just wondering if she had anything to say about your cars
Pin Striping.. Live long and Prosper.. Na No-Na No
I believe we can handle the Website..
I just need to think of little things to keep it fun..
(besides Uranus jokes)
I know the hands on with equipment will be fun.
I do know of one other Astronomer around in the next town but havent met him yet...

#9 buddyjesus

buddyjesus

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2236
  • Joined: 07 Jul 2010
  • Loc: Davison, Michigan

Posted 13 April 2013 - 07:51 PM

http://www.astroleag...ral/memsoc.html

the pay club has a discount to SandT

#10 orion61

orion61

    Aurora

  • *****
  • Posts: 4576
  • Joined: 20 Oct 2007
  • Loc: Birthplace James T Kirk

Posted 13 April 2013 - 09:09 PM

Thanks.. all info is good..
The best thing I think is getting the schools Teachers on Board... Making things safe.
I am pretty lucky to have the fairly Dark skys of N Iowa.

#11 tedbnh

tedbnh

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 819
  • Joined: 14 Nov 2007
  • Loc: New Hampshire

Posted 14 April 2013 - 06:51 AM

Very exciting news, Larry!

I belong to three astro clubs, each somewhat different in style. As with any amateur group, the club must serve the interests of its members, or they will not keep coming back.

At your first meeting, let's say you had a group discussion where you stood up front and invited people to tell you what they wanted from the new club, and wrote down everything on the whiteboard. You would probably find a whole range of things, for example:

- help me learn to use my new telescope
- help me figure out what kind of telescope to buy
- help me learn the constellations
- help me learn how to take astrophotographs
- provide an way for schools and libraries to request club members to come and give a skywatch for the kids/families
- organize a monthly urban sidewalk astronomy outreach program for members to share views with the public

Naturally it would be really difficult to get all of these programs off the ground at the same time, so you'll have to pick and choose. Hopefully you will get some experienced amateurs showing up who can immediately become the core of your club, and perhaps take on the chairmanship of various committees.

I would put the care and feeding of your new members as #1 on the priority list. Give them what they need, which is training on their new scopes and mounts, training on learning the night sky, and some quick outreach fun. If you have some funding, buy some 6" Orion XT dobs as loaners and give them to new members for a month at a time. Just setting up scopes on a busy street corner on a night near first quarter moon and showing that to people passing by will give even your least experienced member a huge thrill hearing those "wow!"s from the public. Same for Jupiter and Saturn from downtown.

However, in this litigious day and age, do the homework on incorporating the club as a non-profit, and get your liability insurance in order first. The Astronomical League can help you with the insurance part, check their website and then compare prices with your local insurance suppliers.

Most clubs charge a nominal fee, and I think that is fair, esp. if you are going to build up a loaner telescope program. I tell people rather than spend hundreds or thousands on a scope, join our club for $30 a year and take a loaner scope home for free, bring it to our skywatches, and soon you'll know what you want without spending a penny more.

I also belong to another very unique club which has no dues, no by-laws, and confers free lifetime membership on everyone who attends a meeting. :-) Meetings are fun, people bring food, there is little business to conduct, but they have an interesting speaker every time. Most of their other get-togethers are doing public outreach on the sidewalk just for the sheer joy of it.

Membership in a chat list (like a free Yahoo group) should be part of the benefit of your club membership, so members can ask each other questions, schedule informal skywatches, share information, and so you can send out announcements, etc.

A website is also a necessary component these days, hopefully you will find a member with the skills and time willing to give you a nice presence on the web. Check out these websites for a cross-section of how different clubs approach this challenge. However, the Night Sky Network can give you a club calender online for free. Very useful.

http://www.nhastro.org
http://www.asnne.org
http://www.nsaac.org
http://www.gaac.us

Best of luck!
Ted

#12 csrlice12

csrlice12

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 10789
  • Joined: 22 May 2012
  • Loc: Denver, CO

Posted 14 April 2013 - 01:56 PM

Maybe contact other socity club officers. I'm certain they will gladly share their experiences. The Denver Astro Society is pretty active here.

#13 herrointment

herrointment

    Aurora

  • *****
  • Posts: 4574
  • Joined: 12 Mar 2011
  • Loc: North of Hwy. 64

Posted 15 April 2013 - 01:31 PM

Look at what you've gotten yourself into!

Judging from your postings here the right man has the job.

Have fun and best of luck!

#14 orion61

orion61

    Aurora

  • *****
  • Posts: 4576
  • Joined: 20 Oct 2007
  • Loc: Birthplace James T Kirk

Posted 15 April 2013 - 03:02 PM

I am sure there is going to be lots of work to do.
This is a cluster of small towns, not many have 1000 people in them.
But, here are my main ideas. Keep it fun and SAFE, you never know who will come to these meetings. I have a friend who is a member of local law Enforcement. I will want to know who the bad folks are and keep an eye out.
I need to have the personel in place so I am not shouldering everything myself. I think for now, keeping the Club on a bit more on the casual side is best. I was part of another club in a Large Iowa city, and it was a mess, A few of the members wanted it to be "Their" club because they were more serious, There was a beautiful 16" Fork mounted Newtonian, but it seemed every Clear Saturday night there were the same
2 or 3 guys signed in for all nighters. They were argumentative and tried to ban kids.. Imagine that!
They wanted it to be passed that members HAD to wear Lab Coats while using the equipment.
It got so bad the President had no other choice but ask for their keys back. When you have close to 60 members and nobody could get in and use the equipment during the weekend
was not a fair thing to have happen.
We even had to set up low light cameras after eyepieces and filters starting to go missing.. We caught the guy and gave him the choice of returning the items, turning in his key or go to Jail. He made the right decision.
They wanted me to run for the President job but with my day job young family, it wasn't time... I believe it is now.
So being able to handle different personalitys is a must,
Tho I can try and understand these folks desire to be professional, WE WERENT N.A.S.A.
The next president was a guy I knew that didn't have much
Astronomy experience he did have great organizing skills.
he turned the club into a fun place. I couldn't believe the atmosphere over the next 6 months. It became fun again.
We even got to Meet Clyde Tombaugh!!! I still have the video of his lecture!
The lessons were invaluable and I tried to soak up as much as possible.
Another matter to look at is the Treasury, It is WAY too easy to let others spend the clubs resources, setting goals and a timeline are crucial!
Lastly,
Have fun,
Have Fun,
HAVE FUN!!
Thank you ALL for your invaluable imput and feedback. I am in your Debt.
Larry

#15 Classic8

Classic8

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 550
  • Joined: 12 Apr 2006
  • Loc: Naperville, IL, USA

Posted 15 April 2013 - 05:05 PM

I would keep it simple and casual to start off with. The club I'm in charges $20 for an individual member and $30 for a family - it's pretty organized and has been around for 30 years. We also have name tags for indoor/daylight meetings (which helps me since I'm bad at names). Our club has an observatory but since you have scopes that people can look through that should be fine.

You're right about not doing it alone. Try to get at least one other person to help you in starting out. Our club doubled in size when the internet became popular and people could find us somewhere on the internet - so even a very rudimentary website would help people find you.

#16 orion61

orion61

    Aurora

  • *****
  • Posts: 4576
  • Joined: 20 Oct 2007
  • Loc: Birthplace James T Kirk

Posted 15 April 2013 - 08:06 PM

yes I agree with you on keeping it simple, you are the 2nd or 3rd to bring up points so they must be on..
If you had the ability to change one thing about your club what would it be?
I am also interested in what you folks can come up for a name?
We live close to the corner of 3 States. we are within 40-60 miles of Minnesota and South Dakota. so
Something with TriState.... Galaxy Hunters or TriState Astronomical Association but thats kind of boring..
what are your thoughts..
Again I hope you all feel a little part of this club is yours and I'd love it if any of you were to Drive through and stop on vacation or what not....
Larry

#17 Classic8

Classic8

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 550
  • Joined: 12 Apr 2006
  • Loc: Naperville, IL, USA

Posted 15 April 2013 - 10:26 PM

The club I'm in also uses the term Astronomical Association. Yes, it's kind of bland...though it does indicate mostly what the group is about. And people can look up the city we're in along with "astronomy" on the internet and find our group. But in your case just pick something you like. I'm not creative so I'm not much help there.

Good luck

George

#18 orion61

orion61

    Aurora

  • *****
  • Posts: 4576
  • Joined: 20 Oct 2007
  • Loc: Birthplace James T Kirk

Posted 16 April 2013 - 12:50 PM

As I want to make people feel this is THEIR club, I believe I may hold off, (unless I hear a terrifice name somewhere)
And have a "Name the Club contest.
This in the Spirit of keeping it fun, letting the members know they are involved and important. Possibly have a small prize for the winning name. I am really getting excited about this!
After the best part of 2 years being housebound due to multiple surgerys, I cant wait to pull a few ALL Nighters.
I have several pair of pertty nice but inexpensive Japanese Binoculars from the 60's I may put a pair of those up as the prize..
As a matter of fact, I think I have the first months meeting planned out. I can make home made Planespheres,
Most people around here have Binos, A little challenge to find a few of the better objects..
It is beginning to get organized in my mind..
I better be carefull, it's getting pretty full in there.
Too much in and, I may start loosing somethings, like the ability to use a fork or something... LOL
Thanks again for your help everyone..
I do have a question for the Female members out there if there is something in your Club special you would like to be part of your Astro-Club...
Living in the Midwest and all the Hunters we have here I'm afraid If I ask the guys, someone would come up
"with a shoot down the Moon" contest..
Be Well
Larry

#19 Doc Willie

Doc Willie

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1640
  • Joined: 31 Mar 2010
  • Loc: Mid-Hudson Valley, NY, USA

Posted 19 April 2013 - 06:29 AM

Your Wife a Trek fan too?
Just wondering if she had anything to say about your cars
Pin Striping. Live long and Prosper.. Na No-Na No


She tolerates my foibles. She likes Star Trek, but is not a "Trekkie."

Klaatu. Barada. Nikto.

#20 orion61

orion61

    Aurora

  • *****
  • Posts: 4576
  • Joined: 20 Oct 2007
  • Loc: Birthplace James T Kirk

Posted 19 April 2013 - 07:37 AM

I think Kirk would have KICKED Picards *BLEEP*..
A Frenchman with an English accent..
You dont get up after a Kirk Karate Chop...

#21 lsfinn

lsfinn

    Sputnik

  • *****
  • Posts: 48
  • Joined: 28 Jan 2013
  • Loc: State College, PA

Posted 19 April 2013 - 06:29 PM

Hi,

The Astronomical League has good materials on starting a new club: check-out the information at <http://www.astroleag...socaidid.html>.

I think affiliation with the AL is a Good Thing ™: it provides your members access to recognition for completing observing programs (which give people something to aim for) and a solid connection to the larger community of amateur astronomers.

Good Luck!

Sam

#22 GeneT

GeneT

    Ely Kid

  • *****
  • Posts: 12696
  • Joined: 07 Nov 2008
  • Loc: South Texas

Posted 21 April 2013 - 05:31 PM

Form a group to serve as officers--secretary, treasurer, outreach, inreach coordinator; dues--$20 annually, or so; have a good balance of club member's only events, and outreach.
Good luck--and congratulations!

#23 BarbMoore

BarbMoore

    Mariner 2

  • *****
  • Posts: 209
  • Joined: 11 May 2009
  • Loc: South central New Mexico

Posted 21 April 2013 - 11:49 PM

If you are going to start a non-profit, I think you will need a board of directors including, president, tresurer, and secretary.






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics