WELCOME to the Panhandle Astronomy Club

The Panhandle Astronomy Club is an amateur astronomy club based in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. The club was founded in the Fall of 2005 for anyone interested in sharing and learning about astronomy. We enjoy observing the sky and educating others about astronomy. Our membership is open to the public. Most of our members are from the Wyobraska Panhandle. Our members have varying interests from learning to identify the constellations to Deep Sky Observing. We welcome anyone who has an interest in and a desire to learn about astronomy.



If you are just starting out in Astronomy and would like to learn your way around the night sky or a seasoned amateur astronomer who's interested in sharing your observing experiences and skills, you are sure to find friends within the Panhandle Astronomy Club.
Club observing sessions are held monthly (weather permitting) at a local dark sky site or at one of the private observatories owned by club members. The location of our observing sessions are usually determined at the monthly meet and greet event held on the second Tuesday of the month at 7:00 pm at the Gering Junior High in room B105.

A variety of public events including Astronomy Day, Nouvelles Lunes 2024, Public Star Parties and Outreach Events are held throughout the year to foster awareness of and promote the science of astronomy. Check out our club events page for upcoming events and additional information.

The annual Western Nebraska Star Gaze provides dark skies supplemented by daytime clinics and children's activities. Our laid back atmosphere allows plenty of time for fellow astronomers to exchange ideas, share experiences and help one another.


If you love astronomy and are willing to share your passion of the night sky with others, or just looking for a way to start in the hobby, please consider joining today!

MEMBERSHIP in the Panhandle Astronomy Club is open to anyone with an interest in astronomy. You may join as an individual or share the hobby with a family membership. Student discounts are available for any individual who can document that they are enrolled as a full time student in an elementary, high school, college or university.


  1. Members receive the club newsletter each month. It contains astronomy news and information on club activities and events.
  2. Participation in monthly club observation nights and annual star parties.
  3. Membership in the Astronomical League, a national organization of amateur astronomers.
  4. Free subscription to the Astronomical League's quarterly publication "The Reflector"
  5. 10% discount on astronomy books when purchased through the Astronomical League.
  6. Participation in both regional and national conventions through the Astronomical League.
  7. The Astronomical League also sponsors the Messier and Herschel Awards programs to recognize the achievements of those dedicated people who view the most deep-sky objects.
  8. Membership in the Night Sky Network

DUES are assessed to help offset the cost of operation, maintenance and improvement of club assets. They cover a twelve-month period starting January 1 and ending December 31. Dues currently are:

SCHOLARSHIPS based on financial need are available to those who can not afford dues but would like to be involved in the club. Refer to our by-laws or contact any board member about applying and the conditions for receiving a membership scholarship.

Panhandle Astronomy Club BYLAWS

Article I: Statutory Requirements

Section I: Name
The name of this club shall be the Panhandle Astronomy Club also know as PAC.

Section II: Type
This club is a public benefit not for profit club. This club will have members.

Section III: Address
The name, street, and mailing address of this club’s registered office is:
Panhandle Astronomy Club
P.O. Box 987
Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363-0987

Article II - Purpose

This club is formed for charitable, educational and scientific purposes, for individuals and groups, for the primary purpose of:

Developing and implementing programs designed to foster awareness, in individuals and in the community, with regard to astronomical developments and achievements.

Promoting the science of astronomy.

Providing, individuals and the community, with educational resources concerning astronomy.

Promoting the study of astronomy through instruction, lectures, and public viewing.

Article III - Membership

Section I: Criteria

Membership shall be open to anyone with an interest in astronomy.

Membership shall not be denied based on race, creed, ethnic background, or for any other reason.

To retain membership within the club the individual, student or family must have current dues paid. If dues are not paid, membership will be temporarily revoked until dues are renewed.

Any member may be dropped from membership by a 2/3 vote of members present after a show of due cause.

Section II: Categories

Membership shall consist of individuals and families whose dues are current.

Members shall consist of the following classes:

A. Individual Membership:
An individual whose regular dues are paid to the current date.

B. Student Membership:
An individual enrolled as a full time student in any elementary, high school, college or university, who presents evidence of that status to the Treasurer upon payment of annual dues to the club.

C. Family Membership
All family members who reside at the same address.

Section III: Dues

Dues will be assessed to cover the costs of operation, maintenance and improvement of club assets.

Dues shall cover a twelve-month period starting January 1st and ending December 31st.

Dues are due by the January Club Meeting.

Dues shall be determined by a majority vote of the board and may be changed with a majority vote of the board.

Dues for each category of member shall be as follows:

A. Individual Membership: $20.00 per year

B. Student Membership: $15.00 per year

C. Family Membership: $30.00 per year

New member dues paid after October 1 are good through December 31 of the following year.

Dues may be changed only through amendment of these By-Laws.

Scholarships based on Financial Need are available to those who can not afford dues but would like to be involved in the club.

A. Applicants must complete a membership form and attach a request for scholarship stating:

  1. the need for assistance.
  2. what amount, if any, they can pay.
  3. the amount of outreach hours they will give to the club.
  4. all the club activities and outreach events they will actively participate in.

B. All scholarships must be approved by the board through a majority vote of the board members.

C. Scholarships are valid for one year starting January 1st and ending December 31st of the year applied for.

D. Scholarship recipients must complete the following volunteer outreach hours to the club:

  1. Individual Members - 20 outreach hours between January 1 and December 31.
  2. Student Members - 15 outreach hours between January 1 and December 31.
  3. Family Members - 30 outreach hours between January 1 and December 31. a. If two family members work the same hour two hours are counted toward the family members volunteer time. b. If more than two family members work the same hour only two hours are counted toward the family members volunteer time.

E. The club secretary will maintain a form for club members to log their outreach hours.

  1. Club members must log their outreach hours within two months of the time of the service to be counted toward their volunteer outreach hours.
  2. Both the club secretary and member must sign off on and date each hour logged.
  3. Members not following this procedure may not be eligible for renewal scholarships.

F. Outreach hours are those hours that are actively given back to the group. All outreach events including Astronomy Day, Kidz Explore, National Night Out, or Public Star Parties may be counted toward outreach hours. Club meetings and observation nights are not considered outreach hours. However, the board may approve a specific club meeting or observation night if the member provides a presentation or other service at one or more of these events.

G. Scholarships may be awarded to new members anytime during the year. In order to be eligible for future scholarships new members must complete the minimum required hours stated in these bylaws by December 31st. Hours will not be prorated.

H. Scholarships for renewing members will be voted upon at the annual board meeting.

I. Members who have received scholarships in the past may reapply for scholarships as long as they continue to have a need. Renewing applicants must:

  1. complete the proper forms as stated in these bylaws
  2. have completed and logged the minimum hours of volunteer hours
  3. and actively participated in club activities and events.

J. A board member may be a scholarship recipient, however the hours spent serving on the board will not count toward outreach hours.

Section IV: Voting Privileges

The following classes of members have general voting privileges on all matters submitted to the

Individual Member: one vote
Student Member: one vote
Family Member: two votes

Section V: Meetings

General meetings, for all members, shall be held on the second Tuesday of each month unless otherwise designated by a majority vote of the members present at the regular meeting.

The Annual Board Meeting will be held in January as advertised.

All matters coming before any meeting are to be decided on by a majority vote of members present.

No member shall be entitled to vote by proxy on any question before the membership.

Article IV: Officers

Section I: Number

The elected board of the Panhandle Astronomy Club shall consist of: President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer.

The appointed/voluntary positions to the Panhandle Astronomy Club board could consist of the: Newsletter Editor, Webmaster, Night Sky Coordinator, and Astronomical League Correspondent.

Section II: Qualifications

All current members shall be eligible to hold office.

All officers must be members in good standing.

An individual may hold no more than one elected office at a time.

Section III: Term of Office

All elected positions shall be for a term of one-year.

Officers shall assume their official duties following the close of the Annual Board Meeting in January.

All appointed/voluntary positions are held until the volunteer so chooses to vacate the position or removal of the board.

Section IV: Vacancies

A vacancy in an office shall be filled from among the eligible membership.

Vacancy in an elected office shall be chosen by the board from the total membership to serve for the unexpired term. His/her appointment to an elected board position shall be confirmed by a majority vote of the members at the next club meeting.

    Vacancy in an appointed/voluntary position shall be appointed by the  
    board as deemed necessary.

Section V: Method of Voting

Each Individual and student member in good standing shall have one vote. All family memberships in good standing shall have two votes. Good standing means their dues are current.

Voting shall take place by secret ballot or raising of hands at an annual meeting held in the month of January.

In the event of a tie, the president shall be permitted to break the tie by casting his ballot twice.

Section VI: Removal from Office

An elected or appointed officer may be removed from office. The guidelines to do this are:

A petition requesting a removal must be signed by at least three elected officers and two members-at-large.

Each signer of the petition must have been a club member for two or more consecutive and current years.

A motion approved by the board to review such a petition shall impose an immediate and temporary suspension of the officer being reviewed.

An alternate pro tem officer shall be immediately appointed, so that any delay in resolution does not leave the office vacant or inactive.

The pro tem officer will not have voting privileges.

The petition will be reviewed at the next club meeting and voted upon at that time.

A majority vote of the entire membership is required for removal of an officer.

If an officer is not removed by this procedure, the original petition is then invalid and the process must be initiated again to remove the officer.

Section VII: Duties of Officers

The president shall be the chief executive office of the Panhandle Astronomy Club and shall preside over all business meetings. The president shall be responsible for the execution of policies and programs of the board and for the administration of the affairs of the club. He/she shall have the authority to execute instruments necessary to carry out these duties.

Vice President
The Vice President shall perform such duties as may be assigned from time to time by the Board or the President. In the event that illness or other disability prohibits the President from performance, the Vice President shall have the powers and perform the duties ordinarily the responsibility of the President. The Vice President shall chair the Program Committee also.

The Secretary of the Panhandle Astronomy Club shall keep accurate and complete minutes of meetings of the Board and of the members and provide notices of all meetings to the members. He/she shall maintain the membership list and club records and aid in preparation of any formal documents of the club. The Secretary shall record nominations for elected offices as well as results.

The Treasurer shall receive all monies and keep an accurate account of all financial transactions of the club, showing the receipts of dues from members and bank receipts. He/she shall keep the books in order and pay bills justly accrued by the club. He/she will send renewal and new subscription monies and be jointly responsible with the president for filing necessary tax and other legal documents. a. Two officers must sign all checks. b. New signature cards must be filed when new officers take place.

Newsletter Editor
The Newsletter Editor publishes, prints and distributes the monthly newsletter.

The Webmaster maintains the club website, email, yahoo group and photo album.

Night Sky Coordinator
The Night Sky Coordinator receives and manages any new Outreach Tool Kits and introduces the Outreach Tool Kits to club members. He/she maintains the list of club members who are participants in the Night Sky Network and confirms outreach events logged by club members. The Night Sky Coordinator shall train Children’s Program Committee members on the use of the Night Sky Toolkits available for use by club members.

Astronomical League Correspondent (ALCor)
The Astronomical League Correspondent is the contact between our club and the Astronomical League. The ALCor is responsible for sending in roster updates, serving as representative on the Regional Council, updating and distributing information to club members about League activities and advises the League of changes in officers.

VIII: Standing Committees

Standing Committees are those committees allowed to exist by these articles. Membership of any standing committee is restricted to club members in good standing. All Standing Committees may have as many as 10 members and as little as one.

There shall be the following standing committees:

A. Children’s Program Committee
The Children’s Program Committee offers programs to area youth ages 5 to 18. This shall include programs to schools, scouts and other youth organizations as well as the participation in public outreach activities offered by the club. The Night Sky Coordinator shall train committee members on the use of the Night Sky Toolkits available for use by club members.

B. Novice Committee
Conduct programs designed around the beginner astronomer.

C. Observing Program & Field Trip Committee
The Observing Program & Field Trip Committee shall be responsible for planning and making all arrangements with regard to club field trips, including coordinating contacts with all participants. They shall also provide programs that provide educational experiences, aid in development of observational skills, and promote observational contribution to organizations serving amateur and professional astronomy.

D. Program Committee
The Vice President shall be chairman of the Program Committee. This committee shall plan programs to be presented at regular club meetings as well as special programs or lectures other than observing sessions.

E. Public Outreach Committee
The Public Outreach Committee shall arrange for club participation in activities which educate members of the community concerning astronomy. Public outreach events shall include the annual National Astronomy Day and may include local events such as National Night Out and Kidz Explore.

F. Publicity Committee
The Publicity Committee shall publicize the club, its meetings and events of special interest to the public.

G. Star Party Committee
The Star Party Committee shall prepare publicity and registration material for the weekend Star Party. Select and secure a site. Liaison with other astronomical groups who wish to attend or assist with the star party. Organize sub-committee’s for matters such as Registration, Ice Cream Social, Astronomers Breakfast, Swap Meet, Children’s Program, Novice Program, Solar Observing, Constellation Tours, Astrophotography contest, and observing challenges or others as needed and approved by the Board.

H. Welcoming Committee
Shall be responsible for welcoming and orienting members new to the club and develop activities to welcome members to regular meetings.


A. Chairpersons of these standing committees shall be elected by a majority vote of the membership present at the Annual Meeting.

B. Chairpersons shall serve terms of one year beginning after the annual board meeting.

C. Vacancies in elected chair positions shall be filled from among the eligible membership by a majority vote of members present at any regular meeting. Any person selected to fill such vacancy shall serve for the unexpired term.

D. Each committee chairperson may present a budget request to the Board.

E. All standing committee chairpersons must have been members in good standing for at least a year immediately preceding assuming office. A chair position shall become vacant if the chairperson ceases to be a member.

Article IX: Communication Tools

Section I: Newsletter
The Panhandle Astronomy Club official newsletter is called The Scope and is published monthly, year round.

Section II: Online Photo Album
The Panhandle Astronomy Club official Online Photo Album is located at

Section III: Public Yahoo Group
The Panhandle Astronomy Club official Public Yahoo Group is located at

Section IV: Website The Panhandle Astronomy Club official website is located at

Article X: Amendments

These By-Laws may be amended by the membership at any club meeting by a two-thirds vote, provided written notice setting forth any proposed amendment is mailed or delivered to each member at least fifteen days in advance of such meeting.

Article XI: Dissolution

Section I: Quorum
To dissolve the Panhandle Astronomy Club, a two-thirds vote must be made by the members at any club meeting, which has a “dissolution quorum” of three fourths of the registered membership.

Section II: Assets
In the event of the dissolution of the Panhandle Astronomy Club, the assets of the club, minus costs, shall be donated to the Mid-States Region of the Astronomical League and/or Nebraska Star Party.


The Lending Library is available to all members. Members interested in sharing their resources with others are encouraged to contact the webmaster with as much information as possible so it can be posted here. If you are interested in checking out materials from the lending library simply click on the title of the resource and email the owner.

Understanding The Universe: An Introduction To Astronomy
This 2003 Updated DVD series by Dr. Alex Filippenko of UC - Berkley covers astronomy in a non-technical manner. He is a very good instructor who can communicate very advanced astronomical concepts in terms that non-science majors can understand. The subjects range from the basic physics needed to understand astronomy to advanced subjects such as black holes.

Shadows & Silhouettes Outreach Toolkit
Provided by NASA Night Sky Network, this toolkit covers topics you can address during that shadowy time just before and just after sunset. It also covers those special events enhanced by views through telescopes and binoculars: eclipses and transits.

Black Holes Survival Outreach Toolkit
Provided by NASA Night Sky Network, this toolkit consists of activities and resources that are designed to address gravity in general and black holes in particular as an extreme form of gravity.

Our Galaxy, Our Universe Outreach Toolkit
Provided by NASA Night Sky Network, this toolkit consists of activities and resources that are designed to help your audiences visualize the basic structure and organization of our Galaxy and the rest of the universe, and the place of our Solar System within it. It also helps visitors understand the vast distances to the stars, nebulae, and other galaxies viewed through the telescope.

PlanetQuest Outreach Toolkit
Provided by NASA Night Sky Network, this toolkit focuses on the search for planets around distant stars and discusses some of NASA's exciting missions.

Exploring the Solar System Outreach Toolkit
Provided by NASA Night Sky Network, this toolkit is designed to provide tools to show the structure of our Solar System, including models for sizes and distances, to connect what is seen in the sky with where the planets are in relation to Earth.


January 13th - Club AstroNight, Gering Junior High, Room B105, 7pm

January 21st - Observation Night with Gering 8th Graders - 7 to 9pm @ Gering Jr. High

February 10th - Club AstroNight, Gering Junior High, Room B105, 7pm

February 20th - Club Observation Night, Jon Smith's observatory, 7pm

March 10th - Club AstroNight, Gering Junior High, Room B105, 7pm

April 14th - Club AstroNight, Gering Junior High, Room B105, 7pm

May 2nd - Astronomy Day, Activity TBD

May 12th - Club AstroNight, Gering Junior High, Room B105, 7pm

June 9th - Club AstroNight, Location TBD, 7pm

June 18th to 23rd - Western Nebraska Star Gaze - Camp Clarke Raiders Black Powder Ranger - Bridgeport, NE

July 14th - Club AstroNight, Location TBD, 7pm

July 19th to 24th - Nebraska Star Party - Merritt Reservoir - Valentine, NE

August 11th - Club AstroNight, Location TBD, 7pm

August 20th to 22nd - Wyomings Weekend Under the Stars - Foxpark, WY

September 8th - Club AstroNight, Gering Junior High, Room B105, 7pm

October 13th - Club AstroNight, Gering Junior High, Room B105, 7pm

November 10th - Club AstroNight, Gering Junior High, Room B105, 7pm

December 8th - Club AstroNight, Gering Junior High, Room B105, 7pm


The Panhandle Astronomy Club has been selected by NASA to be a member of the Night Sky Network, a nationwide coalition of amateur astronomy societies committed to sharing their time, their telescopes, and their enthusiasm for astronomy with their local communities. The Panhandle Astronomy Club will receive several Outreach Toolkits from NASA which are designed to help amateur astronomers promote astronomy through public astronomy nights, during classroom visits, at youth group events and at other public events catering to students of all ages.

Membership in the Night Sky Network includes training for club members, special opportunities for working with NASA scientists and educators, access to a dedicated website for communicating with other Night Sky Network participants and public recognition by NASA for their outreach activities.

"NASA is very excited to be working closely with the amateur astronomy community," said Michael Green, head of public engagement for NASA's Navigator Program based at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena California. "Amateur astronomers want more people to look at the sky and understand astronomy, and so do we. We have a strong commitment to inspiring the next generation of explorers. Lending support to the energy that the amateur astronomy community brings to students and the public will allow NASA to reach many more people."


Camp Clarke Raiders Black Powder Range

The Panhandle Astronomy Club invites you to join us in the shadows of historic Courthouse and Jail Rock for a laid-back weekend of stargazing and socializing.

The Western Nebraska Star Gaze is a time to share, to relax and enjoy our heavens. It’s a time for amateurs, professionals, families and friends to come together to compare telescopes, techniques, observing goals and to promote astronomy. A time to share the night sky, our experiences and stellar sights with others. It is good clean fun for all ages.

Our observing site provides some of Western Nebraska’s darkest skies with light pollution at a minimum. The Milky Way is easily visible from this location and the viewing compares nicely to that of other Star Parties.

In addition to the dark skies, there will be other scheduled events such as an astronomers breakfast, ice cream social, program for beginners and educational activities for the children. As well as, several area attractions located within an hour drive from the site, including several golf courses, Bridgeport State Lakes, Lake Minatare known for Nebraska’s only inland Light House, Chimney Rock and the Scottsbluff National Monument.

The Western Nebraska Star Gaze is open to anyone interested in astronomy. You do not need to own a telescope in order to attend. Camping is permitted on the observing field.

Outhouses and drinking water are available at our site. There is no electricity, flush toilet or showers so plan accordingly.

The Weekend is sponsored by the Panhandle Astronomy Club located in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. The club officers and volunteers have worked hard to make this event happen and hope everyone has a great time.