The Astronomy Section of the Rochester Academy of Science, also known as ASRAS, is Rochester's astronomy club. As a section of the Rochester Academy of Science we are a dedicated and active organization devoted to promoting and enjoying the hobby of amateur astronomy.
Members enjoy all aspects of astronomy, including:
ASRAS is a diverse group that includes people of all levels of interest and experience. Members share a common love for astronomy and space sciences. Some are well-versed and experienced amateur astronomers. Others have little or no expertise, but more than make up for that in enthusiasm and willingness to learn. Most members have little or no formal training in astronomy, math, physics, or the space sciences. A few members are professional astronomers.
If you're interested in any aspect of amateur astronomy, why not join us? We can help you learn your way around the sky. We can help you choose the right telescope to buy. We'll help you learn the fascinating science behind the hobby. And, we'll help you have fun while doing all that.
The Rochester Academy of Science is registered with the Internal Revenue Service of the U.S. Treasury Department as a tax-exempt, educational and scientific organization. The Rochester Academy of Science is classified in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions are deductible by donors as provided in section 170 of the Code. Bequests, legacies, devises, transfers or gifts to or for use by the Rochester Academy of Science are deductible for Federal estate and gift tax purposes under the provisions of section 2055, 2106 and 2522 of the Code.
There are many benefits to membership in ASRAS, including:
Membership is open to all interested people, there are no 'minimum requirements' for experience or expertise. To join ASRAS, you must join the Rochester Academy of Science and then join the Astronomy Section.
One year's individual membership in the Academy and the Astronomy Section is only $27!
Already a member ?
Want to get more involved ?
Consider becoming a ASRAS board member :
Click on the link below to learn about the ASRAS Board of directors and see if it might be for you !
ASRAS BOD info page
Brief History of the Farash Center in Ionia, NY
The Marian and Max Farash Center for Observational Astronomy consists of an education center, maintenance building and 6 working observatories on a 17 acre plot of land just off route 64 in the hamlet of Ionia, NY. The property was donated to the Rochester Academy of Science in 1988 by Max Farash to be used for observational astronomy. The Center has been developed considerably since that time through generous donations from the Wolk Foundation, Farash Foundation and from private individuals.
Our main building, the Louis Wolk Education Center, contains a large classroom, library, kitchen, computer center, 2 restrooms, a lounge and a large deck. Two of our observatories contain large aperture telescopes suitable for viewing deep sky objects under the dark skies of Ionia. One telescope is more specialized for lunar and planetary observations and two telescopes are computer driven and usually dedicated to astrophotography. In 2012, a new building was constructed and dedicated to solar astronomy. There are numerous concrete pads located on the grounds complete with electric power for members who wish to bring their own equipment. The property has a number of marked hiking trails and offers camping to family and scouting groups. A brief time-line of developments is shown below.
1988 – Max Farash donates a parcel of land to the Rochester Academy of
Science to be used for observational astronomy.
1997 – An access road is opened and the construction of the education
building is started.
2001 – The first observatory is constructed for the 16” Cave reflector.
2001 – A small domed observatory is built and contains a 12” telescope
that can be computer controlled.
2003 – A maintenance building is built to house mowers and ground keeping
2004 – The Farash Observatory is constructed. This observatory, complete
with “warm room” houses a 10” telescope and computer driven mount. This facility is mainly used for astrophotography.
2005 – A deck is added to the education center.
2009 – The Tinsley Observatory is built. This observatory houses a 12” Cassigrain
telescope and is mainly used for lunar and planetary viewing and
2009 – The Wolk Observatory is built and houses a 20” reflecting telescope on an
2011 – A small storage unit is added to the education center to house a 17.5”
Reflector on a Dobsonian mount. It is used for visual observations from the
The deck area.
2012 - A solar observatory was built for observing the sun in the
continuum & in hydrogen-alpha.
2013 – This year marks the 25th anniversary of the land being donated for the
The goal of the Rochester Academy of Science Astronomy Section is to encourage observational astronomy and astronomy education in the greater Rochester area. Maintenance, operation and future improvement of Astronomy Section facilities (such as the Ionia Wolk Observatory site) requires continual funding.
We offer several methods for you to donate to the Astronomy Section:
Note: Requests for information on one of the above endowment funds should be addressed to the treasurer.
Remember, your support provides to the public and volunteer members:
Thanks for your support,
Treasurer - Astronomy Section - Rochester Academy of Science
To Join/Renew your membership, please follow the following steps:
Please mail your check and form to
ASRAS c/o Gail Smith
9780 Bethany Ctr. Road
East Bethany, NY 14054
Since we are a section of the Rochester Academy of Science, RAS dues are a prerequisite for section membership. This means that you should ADD the membership fee for RAS and your chosen section together to get the total membership fee. You can also join other Sections of interest. The membership fees fir the various sections are listed on the Membership forms listed above.
For your convenience, please pay your dues to the R.A.S. and its sections with a single
check. Make check payable to:
Rochester Academy of Science, Inc.
Our monthly meetings are held on the first Friday of every month from 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm. From roughly September to May they are held at RIT (see map below). Spring and Summer meetings are held at the Marian and Max Farash Center in Ionia. Check the Main Page Announcements for each month's location.
We usually have a main speaker, and/or a couple of short talks. There are assorted refreshments before and during the break, so there are plenty of opportunities to catch up with the other members.
After RIT meetings we typically head to Applebee's restaurant for a look at the Chicken Wing nebula or the Veggie Patch Pizza Cluster.
Gosnell Science Bldg
1st floor room A-300 lecture hall
Through gracious donations from Marion and Max Farash and the Louis S. Wolk Foundation, ASRAS has been able to acquire a large piece of land well away from the city lights. Our site, called the Marian and Max Farash Center for Observational Astronomy, serves as the centerpiece of the group's activities.
We are located at
8355 County Road 14
GPS address: 42.930976,-77.496872
42°55'46.7" N 77°30'01.7" W
A wide angle panoramic view of our observing site
A view of all three observatories at the top of the ridge
Like what you see ?
You can get a Key to allow you access to these wonderful facilities by speaking with site manager Bob McGovern. He can fill you in on the requirements to get a key. Look for him at the next meeting or EMAIL him
Inside the classroom at the Wolk Education Center
Our tidy little kitchen
Our lounge area in the basement of the education center
Our newest addition to the site is the 17.5 inch Dobsonian reflector located on the back deck of the Wolk education center.
This telescope is a 17.5" F/4.5 Newtonian on a Dobsonian mount made by Sky Designs and donated by Dr. Al Ureles.
It is housed in its own dedicated shed on the wall in the northeast corner of the deck. The small handtruck located in the scopes closet is used to move the scope out onto the cement platform located in the middle of the deck.
2001 saw completion of two significant observatory construction projects adjacent to the Wolk Building. In the first, a large roll-off roof observatory now houses our 16 inch Cave Newtonian reflecting telescope.
The 16 inch Cave Newtonian telescope on its equatorial mount.
Members Frank Bov and Joe Alteri discuss the use of the scope.
The RollOff is now motorized, making it even easier to access.
The second project completed in 2001 was a small observatory with a 6 foot dome which now houses a 8" Meade Schmidt Cassegrainian telescope. This building is scheduled to get a new dome shutter to make it easier to use next year.
In addition, two large Newtonian telescopes (17" and 20") are available on Dobsonian mounts.
The 20 " Dobsonian is housed in our recently completed Wolk rolloff building.
2005 saw the completion of another major project, the The Farash Observatory. (also known as the BigDome). A 12 foot clamshell style dome sits high above a warm room housing the computers that can remotely control the scope and imaging cameras. This observatory has just recently been upgraded to include a brand new Celestron CGE-pro equatorial mount and a 2032mm (10 inch) @ focal length = F8 Astro Tech astrograph scope. This facility is primarily intended for astrophotography, with the computer controlling cameras, focusing motors, and so on. Users can mount a small refractor on the main scope, using either scope for guiding and/or imaging.
Luke Leege poses with the brand new CGE-pro and Astro-Tech Astrograph scope
The Wolk observatory is a second rolloff that was completed in 2009.
The building houses a 20 inch , f/4 Dobsonian telescope by Sky Designs.
In 2013 ASRAS took ownership of Brews private observatory to allow use by members.
The "Brewhaus" outside view
This observatory features a Meade 12 inch SCT on a go-to fork mount. It is capable of astro-photography and is mounted on a polar aligned pier.
It is an f/10 with a focal reducer for f/6.3. It is equipped with a Robo focuser unit and is close to having the capability for remote operation. It does have a dovetail on the scope that is the wider losmandy type for mounting your own guide scope.
2012 saw the design, construction, and "first light" of our new solar observatory. It is located right at the top of the hill to the south of the Tinsley bldg :
The observatory is equiped with a dedicated Lunt 100mm refrator and a second high quality refractor mounted side-by-side on a losmandy Gemini 2 mount for viewing in both Hydrogen alpha and white light :
These instruments allow for direct viewing of the sun or imaging using video cameras to a new PC setup and dedicated for this purpose. Group viewing is also available using the video camera and large screen monitor :
The Tinsley Dome houses a completely re-furbished 12 inch True Cassegrain telescope made by the Tinsley company back in the 1960's.
The scope was donated to the club and through the efforts of many gracious donors has been completely re-built to better than new condition. The main and secondary mirrors have been re-coated with modern reflective materials and the equatorial mounts tracking drive system has been upgraded to a precision stepper motor design. The Tinsley's long focal length makes it ideal for planetary viewing and imaging.
Download Large Area Map PDF
We are located at
8355 County Road 14
GPS address: 42.930976,-77.496872
42°55'46.7" N 77°30'01.7" W
Take Route 490 to Route 390 (South), get off at Route 590 (north) Take 590 to the Monroe Ave Exit, and go Right at the light (Monroe Ave). When you get to the Village of Pittsford, take a right onto Route 64 (South).
Thruway (I90) west to Exit 45
(Victor / Rte. 96) Take Route 96 South (this will be a left turn) Turn right on Route 251 West (it's about 2 miles down Rte 96, you'll pass a car dealership just before the turn).
Turn left on Route 64 South (you'll come to the village of Mendon about 5 or 6 miles down. Rte 64 is the first stop light on Rte 251).
After about 8 to 10 miles, watch for the Ontario County sign, a horse farm on the right, and a gravel pit on the left. After those landmarks, you'll a quarter mile or so go up a hill. Just past the top of that hill is a road to the right -- Elton Road -- and a small sign pointing to Ionia. Take that right.
A hundred yards over the hill is the (very small) town of Ionia. Immediately turn right at the four corners in town. A few hundred feet later you will see a cemetery on the left. Immediately past the cemetery is a dark gray house with white trim; immediately past the gray house is the gravel road entrance to our site, with a bright yellow gate.
The Rochester Astronomy Club maintains an active schedule of observing, public star parties, and informative meetings. Check out the front page of our web site for up-to-date events & information.
The Rochester Astronomy Club schedules 1-2 public star parties per month, through early spring until late fall every year. Theses star parties are open to the public and hosted at either Mendon Ponds Park or Nothampton Park. This is a great opportunity for people interested in getting started in amateur astronomy, or just want to see what's up there, close up. We'll have anywhere between 6-12 telescopes on the field operated by club members, ranging from 4' in diameter to 20'. We encourage questions, and love to share advice. For more information contact our public outreach coordinator.
The Rochester Astronomy Club supplies volunteer members to operate the 12 1/2" Cave telescope atop the Strasenburgh Planetarium most Saturday evenings, weather permitting. The telescope hours vary by season and objects in the sky, so visit our home page for weekly times, winter cancellations, etc. Call the Strasenburgh Planetarium box office at 697-1945 after 7:15 PM if you'd like to confirm that the observatory deck is open.
Members of the Rochester’s astronomy club, the Astronomy Section of the Rochester Academy of Science, put on an annual event, “How to Buy the ‘Scope You’ll Love and Love the ‘Scope You Bought” Seminar at the Strasenburgh Planetarium. This program is for members of the public interested in purchasing or learning how to use a telescope. Its goal is to provide information so individuals and families can select a telescope or binoculars that fits their budget, interests, and expertise. Both prospective buyers, and current telescope owners confounded by their equipment, are invited to come for free, one-on-one advice and demonstrations of a variety of observing equipment. There are also displays of some of the fine astrophotography produced by ASRAS members.
Want to REALLY make a difference and contribute to ASRAS ?
The best way to do that is become an ASRAS board member.
Board members enjoy a host of extra benefits from ASRAS including :
- The ability to help shape the future direction and purpose of ASRAS
- Get YOUR special interest or contribution recognized and expanded by ASRAS members.
- Work alongside highly motivated, dedicated, and friendly astro-lovin people just like yourself.
- Hear about unique opportunities before they are formalized and announced to ASRAS members.
ASRAS Board Positions
The ASRAS board has several positions that may be a match for your interests and talents :
The President of ASRAS is obviously the top position. The president has many responsibilities like running monthly meetings, running the monthly board meeting, representing ASRAS at local events like star parties, planetarium events, RMSC events, the monthly newsletter presidents message, etc ...
HOWEVER - don't be intimidated - the President gets lots of help in these tasks from other board members. Recent changes in the Board structure insures that the work load is shared amongst all the board members to keep the presidents work load manageable.
The Vice Presidents position is mainly to assist the president and back them up if they cant make a major function like a general meeting or write the newsletter pres message. They take on lots of roles that other board members may not have time for. Vice Presidents usually become future presidents.
The secretaries job is to document the minutes at board meetings and help organize the myriad of activities ASRAS generates during its normal operation. The secretary can be as involved as much as they like, or they can just take notes. But its much more fun to get involved.
The Treasurer handles ASRAS funds - including donations, club dues received, payouts to site manager and other volunteers who purchase ASRAS activity supplies, etc ... If you're good with numbers, finances, or did any CPA work, this position may be for you.
There are 3 Directors positions that perform general tasks and help out where needed. These positions can vote on any board proposal and fill in wherever needed. Don't know where you can help out on the board ? A director position is the perfect solution.
All you need to do is speak with a current board member at any ASRAS activity or meeting.
The Board is ALWAYS looking for help, and ANY member is allowed to attend a board meeting and contribute.
Lets hear what you have to say !