By Andrew Fraknoi
(ASP Executive Director, 1978-1992)
Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) was founded in February
1889, the first national astronomical organization to be established
in the United States. Although its name was a reminder of its origins
on the Pacific Coast, it soon drew members from around the country
and the world.
1989, the ASP celebrated its Centennial by buying a building as
its home and holding a large national meeting at the University
of California, Berkeley. (The late Carl Sagan of Cornell University
was the public keynote speaker, and quickly sold out the largest
hall on campus.) Certificates and letters of congratulations were
received from the President of the U.S., the Governor of California,
and many other political and scientific leaders. Also, the International
Astronomical Union named Asteroid 2848 Asteroid ASP, in honor of
the Society’s work in education and public outreach.
part of the celebrations, we commissioned Kate Bracher, an astronomer
and historian at Whitman College, to write the 100-year history
of the Society, and published it as a special issue of Mercury
Magazine. The issue was quite popular and soon sold out. Over the
years, members and others have asked us if we will ever reprint
it. Nowadays, when electrons are replacing trees as the favored
medium for "reprinting", this request has become much
easier to fulfill.
we are happy to present, in easy-to-download PDF format, the chapters
of our Centennial History. We should point out that many things
have happened in the story of the ASP since 1989, when this history
was published, particularly in the field of education. Nevertheless,
we thought that this was a valuable historical snapshot of the first
100 years of a scientific and educational organization dedicated
to bringing the stars down to earth.