History of the Muncie Astronomy Club

Maribel Leicht and Charles Cantrell happened to be at Jack's Camera Shop in Muncie, IN in the early summer of 2000. They were both drawn to the giant, 16" Meade reflecting telescope on display there. They talked about how they wished there was a local club where people could meet and enjoy star gazing together. Not long after that, they both arrived at Dr. Ronald Kaitchuck's door at Ball State University, where he taught astronomy. They asked him if he knew of any local astronomy clubs, but unfortunately, there were none. Sometimes Ball State or Central High School would organize an outing and invite the public, but not on a regular basis. Ron Kaitchuck explained that he always wanted a club in Muncie, but he thought it should be community based and run by the membership. With Ron's support and guidance, Maribel (who was in her seventies then) and Charles set off to start an astronomy club in Muncie, Indiana. Maribel had a friend on the newspaper, and so it was advertised. Charles arranged for meetings at his place of employment, Ontario Corporation on Jackson Street.

The first meetings at Ontario Corp. drew very large crowds so another site needed to be found soon, which turned out to be Minnetrista Center on Minnetrista Parkway in Muncie. One reason the Club grew so large so fast was that the Grant County Astronomical Society asked to merge with the Muncie Club. The people from Grant County provided their constitution and by-laws, which were revised and adopted for the Muncie Club. Shortly afterward, everyone decided that "Muncie Astronomy Club" (MAC) would be the name for this new organization, and then Not-For-Profit status was secured by Charles Cantrell. The new club soon received a donation of about $1000 to fill its treasury. The officers met monthly to plan how the Club would remain viable and grow.

As a member of the Academy of Model Aeronautics, MAC member Terry Rhoades was able to arrange for the Club to use the AMA for star parties. The AMA encouraged the Club to purchase liability insurance, as some events are open to the public, and so it was decided to do so. The first officers of the MAC were: President, Charles Cantrell; Vice President, Joe Childers (Pres. Grant County club); Secretary, Alison Beam-Hindman; and Treasurer, Ian Blair. Officers were elected for two years, at that time. Others who served as officers over the years were: Terry Rhoades, Lou Church, Peggy Motes, Ron Kaitchuck, Fred Hicks and Chris O'Brien. Meetings started out structured and somewhat elaborate and later became less formal with minimal business but lots of learning and fun activities.

After about five years, most of the Grant County people had moved away, and membership in the MAC decreased to about 35. Membership has remained steady at around 35+ since then. Some members travel from as far away as south of Indianapolis to north of Ft. Wayne, from Farmland and from near Richmond. Meetings are informal, but there's always something to learn, new people to welcome and old friends to greet. It's stargazing at its funnest.

The only MAC committee is the Outreach Committee started by Terry Rhoades and Alison Beam-Hindman. They traveled to schools, churches and other places to promote the science of astronomy and the Club. They were soon joined by Charles Cantrell, Lou Church, Dave Dilly and Jerry Hannah. Often other members contributed as well. In 2017, the Outreach Committee consisted of Alison Beam-Hindman, Dan Malone, Chris O'Brien, Terry Rhoades and Bill Terhune. The Committee's intentions are to promote science education, promote the MAC and bring the fun of astronomy to our communities.