The Chagrin Valley Astronomical Society
Frequently Asked Questions
The Chagrin Valley Astronomical Society ( CVAS ) was founded in 1963 for the purpose of increasing the astronomical knowledge of our members and the public. The club owns two acres of land at 15735 Huntley Rd , in Huntsburg Twp. 44046, where we operate Indian Hill Observatory. The site currently has two observatories located on it:
- The 1st building has a roll-off roof that that houses the club’s 16” Newtonian reflector telescope. The building was constructed in 1981 and the telescope was dedicated in 1983. From it’s humble beginning as a “hands-on” manual telescope, it has been upgraded to a “go-to” instrument controlled by a computer.
- Our 2nd building, constructed in 2003 is a 10 foot domed observatory that houses a 12” Meade LX200 telescope.
Membership is open to anyone 12 years of age or older, with an interest in astronomy. Dues are $4.00 a month.
The main focus of the club is on observing and photographing celestial objects and events. This usually evolves around the monthly business meetings and star parties. Many members are active in other aspects of astronomy such as: astrophotography, observing variable stars, telescope making, etc. As a club we don’t usually plan any club activities centered around these other aspects, but members are usually more than happy to share their knowledge in these areas. While most members have a great interest in the academic side of astronomy, as a club we generally don’t discuss or offer any programs in this area.
Web site – http://www.chagrinvalleyastronomy.org
Indian Hill Observatory Telephone Number – (440) 636-5789.
What the CVAS offers
- Use of Indian Hill Observatory and equipment
- The club newsletter, The Valley Skywatcher
- Discounts on subscriptions to Sky & Telescope magazine
- Help with equipment, finding objects, learning the sky, etc. See our skills list at the following address for members with special interests:
Perhaps the best time to get help is at our monthly business meetings. The main key here is to make sure you contact a club officer before the meeting to make sure there is someone there to help you. If you need help with equipment, arrange to meet an hour or so before the start of meeting. Or if the meeting is at Indian Hill we can help afterwards.
Monthly business meetings are usually held the first Saturday of each month, May through October, at 7PM or 8PM , at Indian Hill Observatory. From November through April, our meetings are held the first Monday of each month at 7:30 PM, in the Wildlife Building at the North Chagrin Nature Center. Check our web site or call a club officer for further details on our schedule and for directions to each location. When the meeting is at Indian Hill, a viewing session will follow the meeting on clear nights.
What is expected of me once I join
To be considered an active member, all you need to do is pay your dues and attend a business meeting at lease once every three months. After this, it is up to you on how active you want to become in the club.
Ways to get involved
- Attend monthly meetings.
- Participate in star parties.
- Besides showing visitors items with a telescope at some star parties, sometimes someone is needed to point out the constellations in an indoor exhibit or the club is asked to do a non-observing presentation about astronomy and someone is need to do this.
- Help out at the work sessions. Sometimes we have work sessions at the hill during the day. This usually involves maintenance on the buildings or working clearing the land. Usually this is a great way to get some exercise without the cost associated with a health club.
- Contribute articles to our newsletter. Basically the article can be anything astronomy related.
- Help the fight against light pollution. . Sometimes members are ask to sign a petition or send a letter to someone in order to get them to take action on some lighting issue.
- Just show up and use Indian Hill.
Viewing at Indian Hill
Once you join CVAS , Indian Hill is open to any member 18 years old or older to use at anytime. You can use Indian Hill on your own, other club members do not have to be present. Generally you will find other member there on clear Friday or Saturday nights when the moon is not a problem and we don’t have a star party at another location.
Guidelines for viewing at Indian Hill
- We have a front gate that we keep locked when no one is present. This is a combination lock, so if you want to use Indian Hill on your own, see a club officer for the combination to open it. If you are the last one to leave Indian Hill, it is your responsibility to shut and lock the gate.
- The observatories are also locked when no is present at the hill. See a club officer for how to access the observatories and how to turn on the electricity.
- Most of the time the club’s telescopes are free to use at any time, just see the Observatory Director, a club officer, for instructions before you them for the first time. The main exceptions to this are for monthly meetings and star parties where they might be used as community telescopes. Generally when the telescopes are being used for visual observing anyone there is always invited to look through them, they just have to get in line and wait their turn. If you have a special need for a telescope, such as for astrophotography where others cannot view through it, the telescopes are usually then on a first come first serve basis. If you can, send out a club wide e-mail or use our bulletin board for letting others know that the telescope will be in use at such and such time.
- If you are the last one using the observatory make sure that the telescopes and equipment are put away, the observatories roofs are closed, the electricity is off and the building doors are shut and locked.
- We have an out-house at Indian Hill next to the tool shed. The toilet paper is usually kept in a plastic container off to the side. When electricity is on in the observatory there should be a light on inside. Else bring a flash light.
- A phone is located in the warm room. We also have a kerosene heater located in this room for those cold viewing nights.
- When the ground is “soft”, please do not drive on any grass area.
- There are two cement pads and an electrical outlet located just south of the main drive to Indian Hill. The use of these are on a first come, first serve bases.
- Telescopes can also be setup in a field south of the parking area leading up to Indian Hill. There is an electrical hookup located about ½ way down this field on the left hand side. This area can get very dewy at times, so it is a good idea to have some type of dew removal system for your telescopes when using this area.
- Telescopes can be setup on top of Indian Hill. On non-meeting or non-star party nights, it is usually OK just to drive up to hill and park up there when the ground is hard. When an event is going on at Indian Hill, please don’t park on top of hill. You can always get there early and drop off your telescope and park in the field below.
- When planning to use Indian Hill, consider using our bulletin board located on our web site if you wish to see if anyone else is interested in viewing with you on that night. Just post a message maybe 2 or 3 days ahead of time.
- Bring a red light of some sort, after dark you should not use white lights. It takes the eye over a half an hour to adjust to dark after being exposed to white light. If you must use a white light or are leaving (requiring headlights), just give everyone in the area a heads up that you about to turn on a light.
- Never just walk up and start using someone else’s telescope. Most members don’t mind show others what they have in view in their telescope, most enjoy doing it, just ask first.
- Dress in warm clothing. A good general rule is to dress for about 20 degrees colder than what it is actually.
- Some other items to bring might include food, drinks, and bug spray.
What is a Star Party
A Star Party is where club members come and setup up their telescopes, show the general public different celestial objects, explain what they are looking, and perhaps answer any other questions about astronomy or their telescopes that they can.
Star Party Guidelines
- It is up to each individual as to what he or she wants to display, the club does not assign objects.
- Try to arrive before the public does and get your equipment setup. Once it gets dark out, whites lights should not be used, this can make setting up more difficult.
- Sometimes it is handy to have a step stool for kids when the eyepiece of the telescope is higher up.
- Keep safety in mind. Since it will be dark out, people might not see the legs of a tripod or other equipment on the ground, so keep an eye out for this. Also sometimes people have a habit of wanting to grab the telescope or eyepiece, watch out for this as well. Perhaps you might need to explain how to use your telescope correctly.
These are star parties where other astronomy clubs from the area are invited to each other site. Generally all intending are amateur astronomers and are more knowledgeable then the general public at other star parties. Many will bring their own telescopes so these events are a good opportunity to see a variety of different kinds telescopes and equipment. Some of these events will have guest speakers and sometimes a registration fee is required. Our OTAA convention usually involves having a potluck dinner, perhaps some type of special recognition for a CVAS member, maybe a presentation by someone, and then a viewing session after dark.
Do you need a telescope to join
No, owning a telescope is not required to join the club. While most members in the club do own telescopes, you do not have to have one. CVAS has club telescopes that are available to any club member to use. The primary disadvantage of not owning a telescope is that you will not be able to show people items at star parties located in spots other than Indian Hill. Actually probably the best way to get started in astronomy is first to use Can always use binoculars and learn the constellations first. Use can always use binoculars at star parties, some people actually prefer these over a telescope.
- Sometimes members are asked to do things like sign a petition or send a letter to someone in order to get them to take action on some lighting issue. There are club members who are very active in this area who can provide help in doing presentations about the effects of light pollution and even help in trying to enact some type of lighting ordinances in your city. Also please consider joining the International Dark-Sky Association (http://www.darksky.org).