||The Boothe Memorial Astronomical
Society was formed in 1953 by a group of passionate individuals with a
thirst for obtaining knowledge and educating the public in the field of
The society’s early meetings were held in a small meeting hall on Success Ave. in the Stony Brook section of Stratford Connecticut. Led by the first president Albert Farian, a small group of amateur and professional astronomers envisioned building an observatory housing the second largest telescope in Connecticut, with a goal of performing astronomical research and becoming an educational center for the greater Bridgeport area.
Joint research projects with Yale University involving acquiring observational data from the planet Jupiter and variable stars were discussed at early meetings. Educational classes in astronomy were given by Philip Stern who greatly contributed to the conception and raising of funds for The Museum of Science, Art, and Industry, now known as the Discovery Museum. Astronomy for beginners, advanced astronomy, and individual telescope building classes for the public were also created.
In 1957 the observatory was completed by society members on the site in Boothe Park, where it stands today. The site location and raising of funds for the observatory and telescope were mostly due to the efforts of Joseph Melnik. The telescope, known as the Big Eye, was completed in 1960, led by the efforts of Nelson Frank Murcko, designer and optician. The $30,000.00 endeavor took seven years to complete. Other individuals’ efforts, along with donations from several local businesses and industries, were also responsible for the completion of the project. (These will be mentioned in updates to the society’s history.)
Today’s society members are involved in the renovation of our observatory and telescope, expansion of the educational center, and passing on the same passion for astronomy that the founding members gave to the public.
Due to deciphering most of this information from newspaper articles, pictures, and discussions with Gloria, there may be inaccuracies to report or additional information to contribute. Please contact us if you know of any, or if you're a past member of the group and have any stories or pictures to share. Your information would be greatly appreciated.
Andy Poniros, 2001