Astronomy magazine has chosen the St. Louis Astronomical Society (SLAS) from St. Louis, Missouri, as the winner of its 2014 Out-of-this-world Award for outstanding public programming. Among the SLAS’ many accomplishments that helped it win the award, the one that stood out was the sheer number of public observing events it held throughout the year. During calendar year 2014, the club hosted 54 events attended by 5,570 people.
The club launched one initiative in 2014 that also was exemplary. They call it the SLAS Library Loaner Telescope program. Modeled on the program created by the New Hampshire Astronomical Society in 2008, it provides modified Orion 4.5-inch reflectors to local libraries, which then circulates the instruments among their patrons.
SLAS club president Jim Small said, “The Saint Louis Astronomical Society is honored to be selected for the 2014 Astronomy Magazine Out-of-this-world Award. Winning this award means a lot to the members of our society who are passionate about delivering high-quality astronomy outreach programs to the public. We are proud of the great relationships that we have developed with Washington University, Saint Louis Science Center, Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Under the Arch, and regional libraries, cities, schools, and organizations.”
“The funds that we receive,” he said, “will help us upgrade the professionalism of our society by increasing public visibility with displays at star parties and other events, extending SLAS support of the Library Loaner Telescope program, and helping us prepare the public for the August 21, 2017, total solar eclipse that will pass through Missouri.”
SLAS is the ninth winner since the award debuted in 2006. Last year’s award went to the Louisville Astronomical Society, the previous year’s award went to New Hampshire Astronomical Society, and the 2011 award went to the The Albuquerque Astronomical Society. The winner receives $2,500 from Astronomy magazine.
“All the award submissions were top-notch, and it made picking the winner a tough choice,” says David J. Eicher, editor of Astronomy magazine. “With each year, it seems that astronomy clubs are doing more and more to help people enjoy our hobby as well as understand a bit of the science behind it.”