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! 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 is 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 sparked an interest in many young lives thoughout the years and was one of the driving forces behind the success of the A.S.R.C.
Mr. Torrence, now deceased, 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, also deceased, 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 Alice and Ralph Deal who have been members in good standing since the club’s very begining. This brother sister team have also held official positions within the organization and are currently President and Public Relations Officers respectively. Their love of astronomy and dedication to the community is what holds the club together.