The Popular Astronomy Club of the Quad Cities is an organization for the education and promotion of the field of astronomy to the general public.

Popular Astronomy Club's History Page

Article two of our constitution states:

"This club (the Popular Astronomy Club) is designed to secure the pleasures and benefits of an association of persons interested in amateur astronomy; to promote the science of astronomy; to promote astronomical work and craftsmanship in its various fields; to correlate amateur activities; and to act as interpreter of astronomical developments and events to the public. Our association is thus organized exclusively for such educational, and scientific purposes."

Some historical highlights:
1935 Carl Gamble decides to offer public viewing through his new telescope. The response is overwhelming.

  • 1936 As a result of outstanding public enthusiasm, PAC is organized. Carl Gamble, is elected president.
  • 1941 PAC is one of the first clubs to join the newly created national organization, the Astronomical League.
  • 1953 We host the Convention of the North Central Region of the Astronomical League.
  • 1954 A solar eclipse expedition is organized and is highlighted in a national magazine.
  • 1958 A PAC advisory committee recommends to the Augustana Board of Directors that a planetarium be built on the campus. We kick off the fund that eventually results in the John Deere Planetarium.
  • 1969 We hold our first meeting in the John Deere Planetarium. It becomes our "club house."
  • 1972 PAC participates in a "Seminar on Space Exploration" which features Neil Armstrong. Later that year we also host a public viewing of the "Lunar Eclipse of the Decade."
  • 1981 A new constitution is officially adopted, and a newsletter is begun. PAC hosts an open-house for the public at the Planetarium and is pleased when a TV crew visits.
  • 1982 The winners of our Space Model Building Contest are displayed at the Putnam Museum. The annual PAC picnic is reinstated at Wild Cat Den State Park. We take a field trip to Yerkes Observatory in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The club purchases its first telescope that can be checked out and taken home by members.
  • 1983 A twelve week astronomy course is offered to the public. 53 people sign up. A "Space Art" contest is held in cooperation with Quad-City schools. We receive Federal Tax Exempt status.
  • 1984 We register with the Better Business Bureau. Seminars are given for the Rock Ridge and Riverdale School District Saturday Gifted Programs. These are repeated in 1985, 1986 and 1987. We host public observing of a partial solar eclipse.
  • 1985 Permission is obtained to hold public observing sessions once a month in Crow Creek Park, Bettendorf. PAC again hosts the public at the John Deere Planetarium. A series of public astronomy classes are held.
  • 1985-86 We provide hundreds of people with a view of Halley's Comet at Crow Creek Park, Bettendorf.
  • 1986 We celebrate our 50th anniversary by hosting the regional convention of the Astronomical League. A two-hour seminar on telescopes for the public is given at the John Deere Planetarium, Rock Island, IL. Later that year we sponsor a field trip to the Adler Planetarium in Chicago.
  • 1987 The PAC Lending Library is established containing books and videos. A one-hour seminar is given to the Boy Scout Leaders Round Table, East Moline, IL. An agreement is made with the Girl Scouts to provide programs in exchange for access to the dark skies of Camp Conestoga near Dixon, Iowa.
  • 1988 PAC hosts a public seminar on the planet Mars with 230 in attendance. A presentation is given to the science classes at Wood Jr. High, Davenport, on the winter constellations.
  • 1989 A series of public astronomy classes are held. A program on the winter sky is presented to the Wilton Elementary School, Wilton, IA. A field trip is organized to the J.H. Witte, Jr. observatory in Burlington, Iowa. A two-hour seminar is presented to the Orion School District Saturday Gifted Program. We hold a public viewing of a Lunar Total Eclipse. PAC hosts a "Neptune Watch" at Augustana College with an attendance of 1,500 to 2,000.
  • 1990 We hold a public exhibit at the Earth Day Exhibition. A ten-hour course given for the Blackhawk College Adult Continuing Education Department. This is repeated two more times. "STAR GAZING," a ten-hour course given for the Rock Island Park & Recreation Board. This is repeated in 1991, 1992, and 1996.
  • 1991 We begin holding telescopic sessions for the public along Ben Butterworth Parkway in Moline.
  • 1992 A two-hour course on astronomy is presented to the counselors of the Mississippi Valley Girl Scout Council at Camp Conestoga, Dixon, Iowa. This is repeated in 1993.
  • 1993 We hold a meteor watch in Crow Creek Park. Over 400 attend plus Channel 8 TV News. A course on observing the night sky is presented to the counselors of the Mississippi Valley Girl Scout Council at Camp Conestoga, Dixon, Iowa. We hold a "Saturn Watch" at the Saturn car dealership in Davenport.
  • 1994 We have a display at the Rock Island Arsenal Armed Forces Day Open House. We sponsor a solar eclipse expedition to Bellflower, Illinois. A seminar, "Helping girls with their astronomy badges," is given to Girl Scout leaders at Camp Conestoga, Dixon, Iowa. A series of observations for the public are held for the impact of a comet with the planet Jupiter. A field trip is held to the CHAOS observatory of the University of Iowa.
  • 1995 Another public observing of the Perseid Meteor Shower at Crow Creek Park, Bettendorf. "Observing the night sky," an hour seminar for older girl scouts, Camp Conestoga, Dixon, Iowa.
  • 1996 Series of public observing sessions held at the John Deere Planetarium for the Great Comet of 1996, Hyakutake. Despite the heavy light pollution, Stephen Saber reports a 3.5° tail trailing the bright nucleus through his 16x80 binoculars.
  • 1997 We hold a mini-astronomy workshop for parents and children at the children's museum. We host public observing sessions of Comet Hale-Bopp. A PAC observing proposal is accepted by Yerkes Observatory. Members go up to participate.
  • 1998 PAC votes to hold public telescope building classes. The Rock Island Park Board asks us to provide public astronomy classes. (This is the fourth time.) A one-hour seminar given to the Boy Scout Leaders Round Table, Christ United Methodist Church, East Moline, IL. We vote to build a Mobil Observatory to increase our effectiveness in astronomy education throughout the greater Quad-City area.
  • 2004 Paul R. Castle Popular Astronomy Club President, died Saturday, May 15, 2004.
  • 2006 PAC member and A.L. Master Observer Stephen Saber first notes our very thin crescent moon's striking resemblance to Solar eclipse contacts. The rare 'string-of-pearls' Lunar phenomenon is dubbed Saber's Beads.

2010 Dedication of the Paul R. Castle Observatory on May 22, 2010.