About the Tacoma Astronomical Society
The Tacoma Astronomical Society (TAS) hosts numerous activities, events, and educational programs of interest to both beginning and experienced amateur astronomers. These are summarized here, and more details can be found on the links from our home page.
- Our monthly general meetings feature excellent programs presented by university faculty or experienced amateur astronomers. The general meetings also provide opportunities for members to share their interests. Guests are welcome.
- Twice a month, we invite the public to Pierce College where we give one of our popular presentations on astronomy. If weather permits, we have a variety of telescopes available for viewing.
- From April through November, we hold host public viewing at the W.M. Keck Observatory at Pacific Lutheran University.
- In August, we hold our annual astronomy fair where we host a variety of presentations, workshops, games, and other activities for the entire day culminating in our largest star party. The star party goes into the early morning hours of the following day.
- TAS is committed to education. Our outreach program has been extremely successful in bringing star parties, solar viewing, presentations, and stomp rocket competitions to schools, libraries and other community groups throughout the region. Go to the Outreach Page or Contact TAS Page for more information on our events or to ask about scheduling an event.
- Our student group meets regularly and provides classes and games for the teaching of astronomy and physics. The students also take field trips and hold an annual Messier Marathon. TAS also awards scholarships to student members entering college.
History of the Tacoma Astronomical Society
TAS was established in the late 1920s, and is the second oldest astronomical society in the country. In 1931, TAS was formally incorporated and officially known as 'The Tacoma Astronomical Telescope Makers'. This was during the Great Depression, and the group helped support each other in their enjoyment of astronomy and its costs.
Later, the Society changed its name to 'Tacoma Astronomer' and had many active members including Norm Pettinger who was the chief custodian of Tacoma Public Schools. Norm continued in the tradition of building telescopes as well as cameras, and he was one of the society's first astrophotographers.
The society changed its name once again during the 1970s and has since been known as the Tacoma Astronomical Society. During the late 1970s, Al George, a local businessman and avid amateur astronomer purchased an observatory and moved it to his home in Puyallup. It was named the Pettinger-Guiley Observatory (PGO) in recognition of the work and dedication of Norm Pettinger and Don Guiley.
The PGO remained an integral part of TAS until it closed in 2002, 25 years after it opened, when Al George retired. Through its many activities and events, TAS continues to be an integral part of providing resources to amateur astronomers and those interested in astronomy.