About

SMCAS History

Our Society was founded in 1960 by four high school boys as a private hobby club, governed by the rigid reign of Robert’s Rules of Order, and replete with a system of five-cent fines for the least breach of protocol! Within a year, however, the San Mateo Astronomical Society began to evolve into its present form; a club which caters to the hobby interests of its members, but which also stresses public outreach, and a mission of bringing astronomy to the community in the form of free invitational programs and stargazing with telescopes. In 1976, the Society changed its name to the San Mateo County Astronomical Society, and became a California non-profit corporation, enabling it to qualify for use of certain public facilities, and to accept donations under the tax laws.

The Society met first in a private home, then in the San Mateo City Council Chambers.  It moved to the College of San Mateo in 1962 and, except for two years at Canada College, stayed until 1978, when Prop 13 funding cuts terminated College outreach.  Our return in September, 2000, though, with our energetic creation and hosting of public events, was the final element in creating a critical mass of skills, funds, commitment and initiative.  That led, in 2006-7, to CSM's fine, new planetarium, the first observatory in its history with new telescopes and equipment, and the implementation of its public outreach program.

Our group has only one membership category, which is effectively for the whole family. Members need not have any technical or professional qualification, nor do they need to be knowledgeable about astronomy. Please see the membership tab for information. 

Except for the cost of dinner at our annual Installation of Officers Banquet, our events are free and open to all members of the public.

The San Mateo County Astronomical Society holds a general meeting on the first Friday each month except July and August, starting 7:30 p.m. on the first floor of the Science Center (Bldg 36) at the College of San Mateo. (If the 1st Friday falls before 05 January, the meeting is generally held a week later). The meetings begin with refreshments, chat and a brief business session in the Integrated Science Center (ISC), followed by a guest speaker in the Planetarium itself. See the Events tab for more information.