RAC is a non-profit, volunteer-run organization that is dedicated to informing people of all ages about the wonders of science and the Universe.
Amateur Astronomy is a lot more than just looking at celestial objects with telescopes and binoculars, although this is the main focus of our most active members. In addition to scheduled observing activities, we hold periodic indoor meetings at various locations where programs are presented that focus on specific aspects of Astronomy.
Among the most popular are topics relating to the purchase and use of astronomical telescopes – where to find them, what to look for, and which ones to avoid. Other subjects deal with basic celestial navigation, how to read star charts, and learning how to locate and identify galaxies, nebulae and star clusters that are generally not visible to the naked eye.
- Special Events
The Club gathers for great food and mingling during the RAC Annual Dinner, a luxurious evening held in late Winter featuring an expert astronomy lecture, and the RAC StarBQ, held in late Summer, where a tasty free barbeque is sandwiched between solar and night-time viewing at one of our exclusive State Park observing sites.
In addition, members of the club sometimes travel to various worldly destinations in search of truly dark skies or for once-in-a-lifetime events. The 1986 return of Halley's Comet was a good excuse for us to fly half way around the world to Australia. The great solar eclipse of 1991 found entire families spending ten days in Hawaii and Mexico.
- National Star Parties
Closer to home we usually find two dozen members spending a week in February in the Florida Keys at the Winter Star Party. What better way to observe the glorious winter skies than being dressed in shorts and a T-shirt! It has been suggested that some of us go just for the warm tropical breezes and the fabulous sea food. Other popular events include the week long Texas Star Party in May and Stellafane weekend each summer in Vermont.
- Summer Star Party
Not to be outdone by the big-name national star parties, we hold our own "Summer Star Party and Family Camping Vacation" for 10 days every July or August at Peppermint Park Camping Resort, located in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts. Just 3-1/2 hours from home via scenic, uncrowded roads, the dark skies at this site rival some of the best found along the East Coast. It's Astronomy at night and family fun during the long summer days with many nearby attractions to visit and magnificent mountain vistas and natural wonders to capture on film.
- Local Observing Opportunities
Much closer to home the club, in cooperation with the Palisades Interstate Parks Commission, holds monthly "Joy of the Universe" public star parties at Anthony Wayne State Park from April through October. This is where many people obtain their initial exposure to observational Astronomy by viewing through telescopes owned by our club members.
- Annual Telescope Show
Each Spring we sponsor the "Northeast Astronomy Forum and Telescope Show", held at the RCC Field house in Suffern, New York. This full day of talks and lectures by professional and amateur astronomers and a commercial display of astronomical equipment by manufacturers and retail vendors attracts 4,000+ amateur astronomers from all over the world, looking for bargains on equipment to enrich their hobby. The supermarket atmosphere at the show has been likened to a "Wal-Mart of Astronomy." If you ever wished you could "try before you buy", you can do it here!
- Reduced Rate Subscriptions
Members of the club enjoy special "club rate" prices for annual subscriptions to the two most popular magazines, Sky & Telescope and Astronomy. The publishers of both offer discounts to members of participating clubs. Savings can be equal to the annual club membership fee.
Members receive emails and postcards to keep them informed of upcoming Club events. And of course, this Web Site is continually updated with all the latest and greatest RAC events.
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