The Tule River Amateur Astronomers (TRAA) is open to all people interested in astronomy. You don’t have to be an expert or own any particular equipment to join. In fact, we recommend that you come to some meetings and star parties, look through other people’s telescopes, and talk to our more experienced members before making any major investments in equipment. If you have binoculars, bring them along. They are your best “first telescope”.
We communicate primarily through an email mailing list. To sign up for the list please contact Billie Chandler with your name, address, phone number, and email address.
The TRAA is a local astronomy club serving the foothill community of Springville and environs. There are members from Porterville and other nearby San Joaquin Valley communities as well.
The club was founded in 1997 by Billie and David Chandler upon moving to the area. It was reorganized in 2002. The club is a member of the Astronomical League, the national umbrella organization of astronomy clubs. Each member receives the Astronomical League’s quarterly newsletter (the Reflector) and is eligible to participate in many observing and scholarship programs run by the League.
There are five private observatories in Springville owned by members: Coma Via, Starhome, Royer Oaks, Bird’s Nest, and Yokuts, with another one on the way! In addition, SCICON (Clemmie Gill School of Science and Conservation) has an observatory for use with students in their outdoor education program and an observing site at the Circle J - Norris Ranch with a number of portable Dobs for hands-on use. TRAA members frequently help out there as volunteer docents and tutors for SCICON students. In recent years Springville has become a bit of an astronomical Mecca in attracting amateur astronomers to come and live in the area due to its convenient location and dark skies.
Club meets at Coffe Etc. in Springville (across the street from the fire station) at 7PM.
Club Meeting Dates for 2007
November No meeting due to Thanksgiving holiday
December No meeting due to Christmas holiday
*May’s meeting will be in June; the prior week will conflict with RTMC.
For meteor showers and other astronomical events, see the Resource Page.
Other regular events are monthly star parties (weather permitting), a booth at the Apple Festival each fall, and Astrofest, a fund raising dinner a program for the community.
The TRAA hosts “star parties”, observing opportunities for members and the public, often attracting up to 20 or so local people out to view through telescopes owned by club members. Star Parties begin at end of twilight, but come early while there is light enough to see where to park. Dress warmly, use a dim red flashlight, if any, and avoid exposing others to white light if at all possible. The locations are either Starhome *, Royer Oaks *, or undetermined.
Star Party Dates for 2007
Also, there have been observing sessions held with and to support a local nature studies program at the Circle J - Norris Ranch, and visited by grade schoolers from Visalia, Tulare, Porterville and surrounding communities. Booths or tables are also set up with safe solar observing telescopes at various community events such as the annual SCICON Barbeque and open house, the Apple Festival, etc.
Apple Festival Booth
Bastile Day Celebration (Starhome Anniversary)
Public Star Parties & Ranger Talks at Lake Success & Lake Kaweah
Information & links will be provided here when the events are upcoming.
The club, as a whole, is working to raise the consciousness of the community about good and bad outdoor lighting. DSS is a project growing out of the TRAA and joined by other local organizations to help make Springville a dark sky site now and as a legacy for our children. By acting now before we grow into a very populated area with streetlights outside everyone’s window, we can maintain the beautiful dark Milky Way filled sky we all treasure.
One way to help accomplish this is to help property owners with glaring all night lights learn about better methods of outdoor lighting. We want to encourage people with all-night lights to be sure they are properly shielded. Simply turning off the lights when not needed, or putting motion sensors in place, are other ways to reduce lighting problems. All of these choices offer lower energy bills as a bonus. For this purpose, we are in the process of putting together information for property owners about the best lighting options for their needs. The club also is happy to work with and advise local light users in any way we can. The International Dark Sky Association can be a great resource, so we are trying to make these materials more available.
For information on type and availability of fixtures and fixes, please contact us and we would be happy to come out and answer any questions.
To encourage local property owners to upgrade their lighting, we are raising funds with our annual Starfest to be able to subsidize a part of this expense. Our last Starfest was an occasion that put us in touch with Wild Places. The volunteers who work with this project have offered to help with the labor of installing the fixtures/shields for the elderly, or those physically unable to do the installation.
We are committed to preserving our clear dark skies.
Monsignor Royer has contributed observations to the American Association of Variable Star Observers for over 50 years and has close to 10,000 reports in the archives. AAVSO observations are used by professional astronomers to determine when and where to point large telescopes including the Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-Ray observatory.
Msgr. Royer and John Sanford also make and market photographs and CCD images for use in text books, media, and advertising through Science Photo Library in London (link).
Billie Chandler is working on AAVSO variable stars, specializing in stars 13th magnitude and fainter.
David Chandler is primarily interestedin observing comets and pursuing further observations of comet trails.