Pensacola's astronomy club reaches 50 years
- 50 years ago Pensacola's astronomy club was started as the Warrington Amateur Astronomers Association---named for Pensacola's largest suburb-Warrington---burned down during a Civil War bombardment but restarted. About three years later-the club went county wide changing the name to that of the county----Escambia.
In the 1970's, the club went inactive when a new generation of officers did not have the time to keep it fully active. In 1977 the original founder returned to the area as a one year sabbatical leave replacement for Pensacola Junior College's astronomy instructor, Wayne Wooten. After Wayne offered to host a reactivated club when he returned the college made its facilities available to the club including the Owens Planetarium. With this support-the club was reactivated in 1978. Wayne Wooten soon donated a portable 10"----permitting the club to host public star parties. In the 1980's the club began hosting the star gazes at the Ft. Pickens campground-taking over from Frank Palma---who had done the gazes since 1976 as a Pensacola Junior College faculty member.
When the club was started in 1959---Pensacola was celebrating its Quadicentennial---400 years since the first settlement at Pensacola Bay---even though a hurricane caused the governor to take his charter and leave the area with only 50 remaining---because a hurricane had wiped out the supplies so the area could not support 1300 colonists---so, after two years---most people left. The next governor and charter did not arrive until more than a century and a quarter. If Pensacola can celebrate 4.5 centuries with a gap that large, EAAA can celebrate half a century---with a half dozen years gap. The club was reactivated by the old members.
Of the founding fathers/original members: Craig Wicke lives in Homestead, FL, Dan Malinsky lives in Gulf Breeze, FL, and Robert Blake lives 2-3 miles west of the Lowell Observatory Dark Site.