Happy belated 48th birthday wishes to Escambia Amateur Astronomers Association.
- This may come as a surprise even to members. Years ago a club
historian made up facts rather than research them and this series of
myths has even become part of the club website.
The club in Pensacola was founded by myself, Dan Malinsky, and Craig
Wicke June 18th, 1959. At first we were a very informal, junior club-
mostly a backyard telescope club. But, we soon expanded county wide
and changed the name to the county rather than Warrington. A few
years later-the most active members left for college and the new
generation of leaders (local college students) just did not have the
time needed to keep the club active. For most of the 1970's the club
In 1977 I returned to the area as a sabbatical leave replacement for
Wayne Wooten-who was leaving to work on a PhD. Wayne had been a
leader in the astronomy club at DeFuniak and contacted EAAA in 1966
to have shared activities. After a joint field trip to the Pensacola
Naval Air Station Planetarium and centrifuge, Wayne paid his dues to
join the Pensacola club but left to study at a university. Years
later, I talked him into going for the astronomy opening at Pensacola
Jr. College and he made it! Now, I was taking his place for a year
and he agreed to be faculty host for the club if I reactivated the
club while he was gone.
The old members had a couple of meetings to plan reactivation in
early 1978. We had a very good turnout for our first public meetings
with the planetarium as a draw. Old member, Harold Yesnes donated a
10" reflector with a mount heavy enough to hold a 24". An observatory
was planned. But, then Wayne made it to his first meeting since
joining a dozen years earlier and donated a 10" portable telescope
that resulted in the club offering public star perties at a variety
of places-especially at Fort Pickens.
Several attempts were made to build an observatory. One was built in
an Avion travel trailer with a dome mounted on top-but, it was found
that the dome would not clear any of the overpasses in any direction
toward dark skies. The city offered to finance a public observatory
on Scenic Highway-but, a sexual harassment suit by female employees
used up that funding. An observatory was planned at a model airplane
park, but....... The navy offered the club it's old planetarium---
but, then could not find it where it was supposed to be stored.
But, these folks don't give up.
I am leaving them 25% of my estate to build an observatory with a
minimum 15' dome and a minimum 16" telescope---which they already
have. They get the money in IRA's as my other heirs would have to pay
taxes when taking the money out. EAAA is tax exempt.
It has been a long time coming, almost half a century-but, expect
EAAA to have a nice observatory sometime in the future.
And, since EAAA was founded during Pensacola's quadricentennial (1559-
1959) (ignoring a period of over a century and a quarter when there
was no city there) you can expect EAAA to celebrate a half centennial
during Pensacola's 4.5th centennial in 2009.
Robert Blake, EAAA founder, 1959, EAAA reactivator, late 1977/early
1978. Planetarium director/asst. prof. Odessa College rtd.