HISTORY OF ASOD
The Astronomical Society of the Desert was founded by Ashley T. McDermott in 1972. As the Astronomy Professor at the College of the Desert, he saw that a great many students, both young and old, still had a hunger for more. Their zeal seemed undernourished because of the lack of a means to fill the void.
It was this void that inspired Ashley to establish the Astronomical Society of the Desert. It became the catalyst that spurred the interest of these astronomy lovers where they could not only fill the void but also share their experiences with others.
Among the membership, we have found several areas that grab people's interest including astrophotography, research, telescope making, meteor observing, armchair astronomy, and those who just love to soak in the awesome wonders of the heavens.
Many of our members have been privileged to participate in activities such as the Riverside Telescope Makers Conference, chase the sun during total solar eclipses, tour the many famous observatories throughout the country, and share moments under the stars with professional astronomers. We also participate in programs at the Living Desert, Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center, and present star parties to schools and other civic organizations.
In our association with the many professionals and amateurs in astronomy, we have found that there is also a real need for the participation of amateurs in areas of research and new discoveries such as photoelectric photometry and comet hunting to name a few. We have uncovered the means to get our people started in these endeavors, actually taking part in areas that once were thought to be the privilege of the professional. We anxiously look forward to lauding our own pioneers who step onto the "shoulders of giants."
The Astronomical Society of the Desert was founded in the Coachella Valley, a place of rare beauty and crisp, dark, clear night skies over 45 years ago. It was then, as it is now, an organization dedicated to promoting the exploration and preservation of the natural beauties that spread to the limitless reaches of the universe. There are many places here where the blanket of stars and deep sky objects can still be seen from our Desert at night, but this is becoming a rare commodity throughout the entire nation and the world; a major concern to our membership and many other astronomy organizations.
We have placed much emphasis on the continued preservation of our dark skies. We once had almost total darkness here (away from the L.A. basin and Inland areas) but over the past few years, the influx of population, land development, and the need for security has changed all that. We, as members of ASOD are aware of this imminent change, but we also feel a need to inform the public that there is a group of people interested in preserving, wherever feasible, the beauty that we enjoy here at night. One way is through our contact with the media. Another is through sharing the beauty of the cosmos with local residents and neighbors at star parties, special presentations, displays, and other events where we can physically show others what's up there and why we want to be able to see it for years to come.
The problem of light pollution also comes into play with regard to research projects. We are an integral part of a widespread amateur astronomical research network. Our skies still contain the clarity that's required for accurate measurements and richer discoveries. We hope to be able to make a contribution to both the conservation of dark skies and the spreading of the knowledge and love of astronomy.
We know that our efforts to attract members whose high esteem for the beauty of the world is like a second nature. We see it in our present membership and we trust that if you share our feelings with regard to this boundless beauty, you'll join us in sharing the wonders of astronomy by signing up today.
Our goals are simple, but at the same time very rewarding. We have enjoyed many projects in the past that have changed the passive onlookers to active participants. The future of our organization is exciting. There is a special electricity in the air here in the Coachella Valley that promises big things in the field of astronomy. We welcome you to join us in the Astronomical Society of the Desert!