Group PhotoChagin Valley Astronomical Society

The Chagrin Valley Astronomical Society was founded in 1963 for the purposes of increasing the astronomical knowledge and technique of our members and for public service in our community. Our goals are promotion of public education in astronomy, the continuation of useful research, and the preservation of unpolluted skies for future use of both the astronomer and the general public. We own two acres of land at 15735 Huntley Rd , in Huntsburg Twp. 44046, where we operate Indian Hill Observatory. The site currently has three observatories that house six telescopes

The main focus of the CVAS is observing and photographing celestial objects and events. Many members are active in other aspects of astronomy such as: Observing variable stars, telescope making, astrometry etc. Most members have a great interest in the academic side of astronomy and are more than happy to share their knowledge in these areas.

Chagrin Valley Astronomical Society is a 501(c) non-profit organization


Indian Hill Observatory Telephone Number – (440) 636-5789.


Membership questions


The History of Chagrin Valley Astronomical Society

To commemorate CVAS's 25th anniversary in 1988, club co-founder Tony Mallama wrote a short history about the club.  While most of this web site focuses on recent activities, Tony's story takes us back to the days of CVAS's founding in 1963 before the advent of home computing, large amateur telescopes, CCD cameras and the technology that is able to present this work to you.   Tony and club co-founder George Gliba were eager teenagers with a passion for astronomy and to spread that knowledge and enthusiasm throughout their community. 

The story is written in eight chapters, you can start the journey here

Building the Observatories at Indian Hill

Since our 1963 founding, CVAS members had dreams of building an observatory at a dark-sky site near the Chagrin Valley. That dream came true in May 1978 when longtime member Ian Cooper met college professor, videographer and science enthusiast Keith Richards at the Geauga County Fair. After some "shrewd negotiations" by Ian, Keith invited us to his property in Huntsburg township were that first Friday evening in May 1978, we observed magnificent dark skies that were unknown to someone living in the eastern suburbs of Cleveland.

The following weekend, club members were on the Indian Hill site preparing it for what became a 4 year project in building Indian Hill Observatory.

The 1st Observatory has a roll-off roof that that houses the club’s 16” Newtonian reflector telescope. The building was constructed in 1981 and the telescope was dedicated in 1983. From it’s humble beginning as a “hands-on” manual telescope, it has been upgraded to a “go-to” instrument controlled by a computer (first observatory photo history).

While major work was completed in 1981, the building has been upgraded over the years with electricity, phone, Internet access, network, and a heated "warm room". 

Our 2nd Observatory, constructed in 2003 was a 10 foot domed observatory that currently houses 6" and 4" refractors (building the Dome).

Then came our application and approval of our tax exempt status and the purchasing the two acres of observatory land that we had been leasing from Keith since 1978.

Our 3rd. Observatory is a roll-off roof shed that was donated. You can see how we moved it to Indian Hill and the modifications we made by going here.

Other projects in the over the years included expanding the parking lot, improving the telescope operations and expand our public education programs.


Membership is open to anyone 12 years of age or older, with an interest in astronomy. Dues are $4.00 a month.

What Membership in Chagrin Valley Astronomical Society offers

Use of Indian Hill Observatory and equipment The club newsletter, The Valley Skywatcher Discounts on subscriptions to Sky & Telescope magazine Help with equipment, finding objects, learning the sky, etc. See our skills list at the following address for members with special interests:

Getting Help

Perhaps the best time to get help is at our monthly business meetings. The main key here is to make sure you contact a club officer before the meeting to make sure there is someone there to help you. If you need help with equipment, arrange to meet an hour or so before the start of meeting. Or if the meeting is at Indian Hill we can help afterwards.

Monthly Meetings

Monthly business meetings are usually held the first Saturday of each month, May through October, at 7PM or 8PM , at Indian Hill Observatory. From November through April, our meetings are held the first Monday of each month at 7:30 PM, in the Wildlife Building at the North Chagrin Nature Center. Check our web site or call a club officer for further details on our schedule and for directions to each location. When the meeting is at Indian Hill, a viewing session will follow the meeting on clear nights.

Viewing at Indian Hill

Once you join CVAS , Indian Hill is open to any member 18 years old or older to use at anytime. You can use Indian Hill on your own, other club members do not have to be present. Generally you will find other member there on clear Friday or Saturday nights when the moon is not a problem and we don’t have a star party at another location.

Guidelines for viewing at Indian Hill

We have a front gate that we keep locked when no one is present. This is a combination lock, so if you want to use Indian Hill on your own, see a club officer for the combination to open it. If you are the last one to leave Indian Hill, it is your responsibility to shut and lock the gate. The observatories are also locked when no is present at the hill. See a club officer for how to access the observatories and how to turn on the electricity. Most of the time the club’s telescopes are free to use at any time, just see the Observatory Director, a club officer, for instructions before you them for the first time. The main exceptions to this are for monthly meetings and star parties where they might be used as community telescopes. Generally when the telescopes are being used for visual observing anyone there is always invited to look through them, they just have to get in line and wait their turn. If you have a special need for a telescope, such as for astrophotography where others cannot view through it, the telescopes are usually then on a first come first serve basis. If you can, send out a club wide e-mail or use our bulletin board for letting others know that the telescope will be in use at such and such time.  If you are the last one using the observatory make sure that the telescopes and equipment are put away, the observatories roofs are closed, the electricity is off and the building doors are shut and locked. We have an out-house at Indian Hill next to the tool shed. The toilet paper is usually kept in a plastic container off to the side. When electricity is on in the observatory there should be a light on inside. Else bring a flash light. Telephones are located in the Warm Room, Main Observatory, Dome and North Observatory. We have a kerosene heater in the Warm Room for those cold viewing nights. When the ground is “soft”, please do not drive on any grass area. There are two cement pads and an electrical outlets located just south of the main drive to Indian Hill. The use of these are on a first come, first serve bases. Telescopes can also be setup in a field south of the parking area leading up to Indian Hill. There are two electrical posts located about ½ way down this field on the left hand side. It can get very dewy at times, so it is a good idea to have some type of dew removal system for your telescopes. Telescopes can also be setup on top of Indian Hill. On non-meeting or non-star party nights, it is usually OK just to drive up to hill and park up there when the ground is hard. When an event is going on at Indian Hill, please don’t park on top of hill. You can always get there early and drop off your telescope and park in the field below.

Viewing Tips

Bring a red light of some sort, after dark you should not use white lights. It takes the eye over a half an hour to adjust to dark after being exposed to white light. If you must use a white light or are leaving (requiring headlights), just give everyone in the area a heads up that you about to turn on a light. Never just walk up and start using someone else’s telescope. Most members don’t mind show others what they have in view in their telescope, most enjoy doing it, just ask first. Dress in warm clothing. A good general rule is to dress for about 20 degrees colder than what it is actually. Some other items to bring might include food, drinks, and bug spray.

What is a Star Party

A Star Party is where club members come and setup up their telescopes, show the general public different celestial objects, explain what they are looking, and perhaps answer any other questions about astronomy or their telescopes that they can. Star Party Guidelines It is up to each individual as to what he or she wants to display, the club does not assign objects. Try to arrive before the public does and get your equipment setup. Once it gets dark out, whites lights should not be used, this can make setting up more difficult. Sometimes it is handy to have a step stool for kids when the eyepiece of the telescope is higher up. Keep safety in mind. Since it will be dark out, people might not see the legs of a tripod or other equipment on the ground, so keep an eye out for this. Sometimes people have a habit of wanting to grab the telescope or eyepiece - you might need to explain how to use your telescope correctly.

OTAA Conventions

These are star parties where other astronomy clubs from the area are invited to each other site. Generally all intending are amateur astronomers and are more knowledgeable then the general public at other star parties. Many will bring their own telescopes so these events are a good opportunity to see a variety of different kinds telescopes and equipment. Some of these events will have guest speakers and sometimes a registration fee is required. Our OTAA convention usually involves having a potluck dinner, perhaps some type of special recognition for a CVAS member, maybe a presentation by someone, and then a viewing session after dark.

Do you need a telescope to join

No, owning a telescope is not required to join the club. While most members in the club do own telescopes, you do not have to have one. CVAS has club telescopes that are available to any club member to use. The primary disadvantage of not owning a telescope is that you will not be able to show people items at star parties located in spots other than Indian Hill. Actually probably the best way to get started in astronomy is first to use binoculars and learn the constellations first. Use can always use binoculars at star parties, some people actually prefer these over a telescope.

Light Pollution

Sometimes members are asked to do things like sign a petition or send a letter to someone in order to get them to take action on some lighting issue. There are club members who are very active in this area who can provide help in doing presentations about the effects of light pollution and even help in trying to enact some type of lighting ordinances in your city. Also please consider joining the International Dark-Sky Association (

Meeting Schedule

From November through April, monthly business meetings are held on the 1st Saturday of every month at Sunnybrook Preserve, a Geauga County Metropark (this link opens to Park District website.) Meeting time begins at 7:30 PM. . We will also have an observing session if the skies are clear. From May through October, monthly business meetings are held on the 1st Saturday of every month at Indian Hill Observatory (this link opens to a Google map of the observatory location). Meeting time begins at 8 PM - May through August, 7:30 PM in September and at 7 PM in October. A brief discussion session and observing are after the meeting.

Members are available 30 minutes before each meeting to discuss astronomy related questions with the public and prospective members.