History Of MPAS
Back around July 1969, four Frankston
residents got together following the Apollo 11's landing on
the Moon, and set about creating the Astronomical Society of
Frankston (ASF). In January 2004, it changed its name to the
Mornington Peninsula Astronomical Society (MPAS).
Now, more than 30 years later, the Society
has over 150 members, making it the second-largest in
Most of the members still come from
Frankston or the Mornington Peninsula.
When the MPAS was formed, the members
initially held the meetings in the Jubilee Park Hall. Not
long after, the location moved to Frankston High School. In
1976, the meeting venue moved again, this time to the
Teachers College (now the Frankston Campus of Monash Uni).
Eventually, when Monash took over the College, the location
for the meetings became the Peninsula School at Mt Eliza,
where it continues today.
Like the meeting venues, there have been a
few observatories (located with our meeting sites), and that
to be built at the Briars will be our fourth. The first was
a fibreglass dome for the Frankston High School, around
1972, but this was burnt down. The second, a metal roll off
roof observatory, containing the B.J.Smith 12.5-inch
telescope, was built at the Teachers College, but was
dismantled when Monash took over. The third was at the
Peninsula School, but was later removed to make way for a
footy oval. The result of all this was that we went into the
"Astronomy on the Move" concept. The first astronomical
society to go mobile in Australia.
Around the time that I joined in 1990, the
Society began viewing from the Moorooduc Airfield (the
result of an MPAS member also being in the Moorooduc Flying
Club). However, the airfield was later closed, and about
1994 the MPAS started viewing at The Briars. Initially, we
just observed from grass, and later, a gravel area. More
recently, three concrete slabs were laid, with a storage
shed being constructed on the smallest slab. Of the other
two, one is used for observing, while the first stage of the
observatory building has been constructed on the other. A
number of native trees have also been planted around the
site to act as windbreaks and block light. Photos of the
Briars site are available at
Richard Pollard's web site. Both water and power have
now been connected to the site. Plans have also been drawn
up for extensions to the observatory building.
The 2001 Christmas BBQ also saw a time
capsule being placed beneath the bottom slab, to be reopened
in 50 years time. Who knows what the site will look like
The MPAS also has a long term commitment
to the local education system, and public displays. This
consists of an active program of holding viewing nights for
both the public and schools.
Many of the public nights were originally
at Ballam Park at Frankston, but they are now at The Briars.
Others have also been held at Braeside Park in the north,
and at Rosebud and Arthurs Seat in the south. The school
nights have been held all around the Mornington Peninsula
and southeast suburbs, from Rosebud in the south to
Dandenong in the north.
More recent features for members include
"E-Scorpius", a members-only email list, and an Aurora
Network, allowing members who sight aurorae to pass the news
on to other members in the network.
The Telescope Learning Days ("TLDs") which
were started earlier this year, have proved quite successful
at encouraging newer members to get to know their
telescopes, and also increasing the number of members coming
to the Briars site.
The completion of a large shed at the
Briars in late 2005 will allow more to be done at the Briars
Over Easter 2006, the MPAS hosted NACAA
again in Frankston, this time by itself (in 1990, it had
hosted NACAA in conjunction with the ASV).