The Astronomical Society of Rowan County (A.S.R.C.) was established June 21, 1981. Annual membership dues are still only $15 per year for an individual, and only $25 per year for the whole family! Meetings are usually held on the second Saturday of the month. Due to the unpredictability of the weather however, meetings and event dates are often changed and it is best to call and confirm the date and time of the next meeting or scheduled event.
The organization is the direct result of the efforts put forth by it’s three founding members, Mrs. Ellen Trexler, Mr. Grady Withers and Mr. Jim Torrence. Mrs. Trexler, was a retired educator in the Rowan County School System, and former Space Science Specialist for the Margaret C. Woodson Planetarium. Her limitless energy and love of science is what sparked an interest in science for many young minds throughout the years, and was one of the driving forces behind the success of the A.S.R.C.
Mr. Torrence was a professional photographer with a love for astronomy. Mr. Torrence aided the organization in developing the original bylaws which govern our club.
Mr. Withers was a chemist by trade with a firm background in astronomy, amateur radio, and electronics, very active in the clubs early years before cancer set in. Mr. Withers also assisted Mrs. Trexler in teaching an observational astronomy class at Catawba College using that institutions 15-inch telescope which is mounted atop the science building.
In the clubs early years meetings were held at the Margaret C. Woodson Planetarium. The facility underwent an upgrade in the late 1980’s, even implementing a few additions recommended by the astronomy club such as the observing deck and an elevator for access by handicapped persons. Unfortunately, after the renovations were completed to the facility, budgetary restrictions mandated that persons or clubs must start paying a usage fee to gain access to the facility. For a small astronomy club with limited financial resources the cost was too high and the club was forced to find alternate accommodations.
The club is now meeting at the home of Ralph Deal, and also at various locations throughout the year for special events such as star parties. Ralph has been a member in good standing since the club’s very beginning, holding the official position of public relations officer. Ralph’s love of astronomy and dedication to the club continues to inspire our members, encouraging them to explore and share their interest in astronomy throughout the community.