Our History

SHAA began in the mid 1960's as the Booth Astronomical Association, named after Les Booth, a former Boonton High School principal. Booth taught night classes on astronomy and after he retired, his former students got together with him and formed the organization.

In 1968 they decided to build an observatory, and Sheep Hill, which had been deeded to the town by prominent resident George Ross, was the chosen location. The group secured donations of materials, labor and money including the skills of 2 master masons from Boonton, Edmund De Dominicus and Leonard Creatura, who constructed the building. The 16 foot diameter steel dome, built by a company in Dover, was set on the building by crane and the observatory was completed in 1973.

It was around this time that the group was renamed to the Sheep Hill Astronomical Association. The original instrument was the 16" Kimball-Kennedy telescope on loan from the Montclair Telescope Club. Built in 1967 and taking an award at the Stellafane Convention that same year (pictured right), the Kimball-Kennedy was a hybrid Newtonian Cassegrain telescope on a split-ring equatorial mount. First housed in an observatory in Nutley, it was loaned to the Sheep Hill Astronomical Association to be placed in our newly completed observatory in 1973. It remained there until about 1978 when it was replaced with a 16" Newtonian telescope and a custom equatorial mount, both built by club members. The mount is still in use in the observatory today.

In 1999, a fundraising project was begun to upgrade the main telescope to an 18" reflector. Steve Bongiorno, an SHAA member and prospective Eagle Scout, led the fundraising effort as his Community Service project to become Eagle Scout. The club members assembled the new telescope and it was installed in August of 2001.

The group remains dedicated to public outreach, sharing their knowledge and outstanding views of the night sky with the public.