TUVA Astronomy Club

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The official logo of the TUVA Astronomy Club
TUVA Astronomy Club was founded in the fall of 1989 for the purpose of exploring the concept of adventure. Inspiration was provided by Nobel laureate Richard Feynman and his friend Ralph Leighton who undertook the adventure of attempting to go to Tuva in the heart of central Asia. Their story is told in the PBS documentary "Last Journey of a Genius" and in the book "Tuva or Bust" by Ralph Leighton.

The first project undertaken by TUVA was the founding of the Tuva Astronomy Organization (TAO) which involved the construction of Tuva Observatory and a 24 inch-telescope named BART (Big Astronomical Reflecting Telescope). Astronomy seemed the perfect medium for Tuva since the exploration of he universe is closely associated with the idea of adventure and almost everyone has access to the sky in some degree. Accordingly it is the goal of Tuva Observatory to aid its members and the public at large in an astronomical adventure.

The model for this particular approach to adventure is the well known "sidewalk astronomer" John Dobson of San Francisco. He has explicitly provided both the rational and methodology for the TAO in his book: "How and Why to Make a User Friendly Telescope." Tuva Observatory answers the challenge of Graham Loftis, another of the sidewalk astronomers, who said: "What we need is a large telescope in every village and hamlet, and some bloke there with that fire in his eye who can show something of the glory the world sails in."

TUVA is particularly concerned with the mind/universe interaction. To paraphrase a well known quote from Dobson: The earth is part of the sky. And just as the sun is a very interesting object being the only star which we can study close up so the earth is a very interesting planet as it is the only planet we can study close up and one of the most interesting features of the earth is human consciousness. How is consciousness transformed when confronting the "greater" universe? What is the nature of the interaction? How is the observer affected and how does she respond?

In addition to Feynman and Dobson the TAO draws inspiration from a third source, the renowned mythologist Joseph Campbell who provides an intellectual framework within which the TUVA adventure may be understood, transformed and communicated. He has thoroughly explored just the type of questions mentioned above and has discussed these ideas explicitly, especially in his books entitled "The Inner Reaches of Outer Space" and "The Hero with a Thousand Faces." He also discussed them in great detail in a PBS series of interviews with Bill Moyers conducted at the ranch of George Lucas the director of "Starwars" which drew heavily on the work of Campbell.

The teachings of Feynman, Dobson and Campbell are commemorated in TUVA’s Shrine to Adventure which contains, among other things, the Feynman Relic an unfinished painting by Feynman provided by Ralph Leighton. Their common philosophical outlook is further explored and expanded in TUVA’s library and research activities. If you have any ideas, information, comments or suggestions contact Tuva Observatory.



Membership in the TAO is open to anyone anywhere. There are two types of membership: local and non-local. Dues are $15 per year for local members and $10 per year for non-local members. Local members are those who live near enough to attend star parties and utilize resources such as the library and telescopes. Non-local members who want to visit or happen to be in the area are welcome to attend all observatory functions.

Awards and Recognition

Clubs and Certification Programs


External Links

TUVA Astronomy Club Website

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