B.J. Fulton / Las Cumbres Observatory

Stand-Out Star Club: Santa Barbara Astronomical Unit

Now it’s official: The Santa Barbara Astronomical Unit (SBAU) is one of the world’s best astronomy clubs, for the July issue of Astronomy Magazine honored the SBAU with the “Out of This World” Award for outstanding programming.

“This is the most prestigious award an astronomy club can receive, especially when considering the groups vying for this award were from almost two dozen states and six countries,” said SBAU president Ruben Gutierrez, who said that they were especially noticed for their UC2 (“you see too”) wheelchair-accessible telescope viewing system. “The UC2 will now enable those individuals in wheelchairs to easily wheel right up to a sophisticated, computer-driven, and laser-pointing telescope and enjoy the wonders of the universe, just like anybody else.”

The only astronomy club serving Santa Barbara, Goleta, and Carpinteria and sponsored by the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, the SBAU is an entirely volunteer organization of about 130 members that bring the stars to more than 16,000 people in the community every year. In addition to hosting visits to Westmont College’s Observatory every third Friday, it throws “star parties” every second Saturday of the month at the museum and every second Tuesday of the month at Camino Real Marketplace in Goleta, regularly brings telescopes to the region’s beaches and campgrounds each summer, and hosts speakers at the museum’s Farrand Hall on the first Friday of each month from September through May.

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