The Des Moines Astronomical Society, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the general public about astronomy and astrophysics. The club operates an observatory at Ashton-Wildwood Park in Jasper County, where two 16 inch diameter telescopes and a classroom are available. You may also see us at farmers markets, the Science Center of Central Iowa, or various civic events.
From April through October, DMAS offers weekly public night events each Saturday at Ashton Observatory, including lectures and opportunities to view the night sky. Private observatory visits (including lectures and telescope viewing) may be arranged for private groups. Visit our Group Visits page to schedule a visit today!
The purpose of DMAS is to secure the pleasure and benefits of an association of persons interested in amateur astronomy; to promote the science of astronomy; to encourage and promote activities of an astronomical nature; to foster observational and computational work, as well as craftsmanship in various fields of astronomy; to correlate amateur activities with other amateurs and professionals; and to educate the public.
The Des Moines Astronomical Society, Inc. was founded in 1970 to foster interest and education about astronomy. Members come from a wide range of backgrounds, occupations, and interests. Some members are drawn to the night sky for its beauty, while others participate in research projects.
In late 1993, the Jasper County Conservation Board donated a thermo-electrically cooled CCD camera for capturing deep-sky images in a fraction of the time of a standard photograph. Unfortunately this piece of equipment was stolen along with several other items on July 21, 1996. We were able to replace this instrument in October of 1996 with a Video Research Grade Imaging Camera to enhance our commitment to share the night sky with the community. More recently in 2004, member Keith Jamison donated a CCD camera to the club.
Our commitment also includes continual improvements to our facility and equipment. In 1998 the society replaced the old silo top domes with state-of-the-art motorized domes from Ash Manufacturing. In 2000 telescope upgrades included a new mirror for the 16" Newtonian, a new 12-inch Ritchey-Chreiten telescope for the east dome, and a 7" Maksutov telescope for solar observing. In 2002 the observatory, along with Jasper County Conservation Board constructed a 30' x 30' classroom connected to the original observatory facility. The observatory now has air conditioning and year-round heating! In 2004 the east dome telescope was upgraded to a 16-inch Meade and other improvements were made to the building and grounds including the addition of more viewing pads.
The club maintains a computer system capable of displaying planetarium type programs, solar system models, and telescope controlled image processing. To assist with visuals during lectures the observatory houses a TV/VCR/DVD, slide projector, and in 2005 added a complete video projector and sound system. In addition to our wonderful facility and equipment, the existence of our web-site establishes DMAS as a world participant in amateur astronomy's pursuit to share with the people of the world our universal home...the cosmos.
Plans for the Future
As the world begins the 21st century, technology will be a key ingredient to any astronomical undertaking. DMAS has been preparing for this future with several electronic instruments to aid in viewing and researching the cosmos. Currently DMAS has been constructing two radio telescopes.
DMAS Board of Directors
|Vice President||Herb Schwartz|
|Observatory Director||Greg Woolever|
|Member at Large||Chris Bailey|
|Member at Large||Jessica Weinreich|
|Member at Large||Dave Hohbach|