The Lima Astronomical Society was founded as the Lima Astronomy Club in 1952 by Herbert Doughty, a seventh grade student. Herb obtained the names of people who checked out astronomy-related books from the public library, and contacted those people to see if there was interest in starting an astronomy club. There was a good deal of interest from those Herb contacted, and the club began to meet in people’s homes. Over time, the Lima Astronomy Club grew to include professionals, homemakers, and students, all with a common interest of studying the cosmos and reaching out to others.
Schoonover Observatory is located in Schoonover Park in Lima, Ohio. The observatory became a reality in 1964 through the vision of the Lima Astronomy Club, the philanthropy of the Thomas R. Schoonover family, and the cooperation of the city of Lima. Club members built from the ground up a 12 ½-inch Newtonian Cassegrain telescope, which was installed and used for over 20 years. This telescope was replaced, after the wood frame warped, by a 14-inch Celestron CGE Catadioptric telescope in the early 1990s. This telescope is still in-use today, and is still available from Celestron.
Other upgrades were made to improve the usability of the telescope. The mount was updated to include encoders to improve locating objects with the telescope using a computer with a planetarium program. Accessories were bought to improve the viewing enjoyment through the telescope, including a bino-viewer and new eyepieces. In 2017 a new mount was put under the telescope with a GoTo system to provide even easier locating of objects in our night sky, which has considerable light pollution.
The members of the organization have hosted numerous programs and observing sessions to many different groups from Lima and the surrounding area. Monthly meetings have been open to the public with a program then observing, with cooperating weather, since the beginning. For many years, Lima Astro has opened the observatory to the public for weekly observing sessions during the warmer months, and during special requests. The Society has provided star parties and programs to other organizations outside of the observatory as well. We have regularly scheduled star parties with the Johnny Appleseed Metropolitan Parks District for Allen County, and we help with star parties and programs at the Armstrong Air & Space Museum in Wapakoneta.