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The Southern Cross Astronomical Society was founded by American amateur astronomer, S. Lynn Rhorer who's life mission was dedicated to "bringing the stars to the man in the street". Sometime in 1922-1923 he visited Miami, Florida and he decided that the tropical skies and the unusual climatic conditions made it an ideal spot for popular education. He chose the historic and luxurious Royal Palm Hotel & Park near the Miami River to establish an observatory with his 5-inch Alvin Clark refracting telescope.
Rhorer's observatory attracted amateur astronomers who offered free viewing and instruction to the public. The Director of Harvard Observatory, Dr. Harlow Shapley, visited the new observatory and marveled at the view of the constellation Crux, The Southern Cross. He suggested the name "Southern Cross Observatory" for the newly formed facility.
With the growing popularity of the Southern Cross Observatory, Rhorer was granted permission by the authorities to move the telescope to Brickell Park in Miami where as many as 2000 people would stand in line each night starting at 7:00 p.m. to observe through the instruments, all of which the expense was bore solely from S. Lynn Rhorer. A total of seven instruments were available for public viewing of the stars (one for each year of the program's existence). In addition, lectures by prominent astronomers were given with illustrations projected on a screen in the park viewed by spectators sitting in seats on the grass of from whatever other viewpoints were available.
On April 21, 1929 S. Lynn Rhorer passed on in his home in Atlanta, Georgia but the members of the staff living in Miami along with visiting members kept the organization active.
Rhorer's will directed that a nonprofit public service corporation be formed to receive all the equipment from the observatory... thus "The Southern Cross Astronomical Society Inc." was formed. The observatory was moved to Brickell Park, and its popularity grew in the 1930s as thousands more came to peer through the SCAS telescopes each week.
Today the Southern Cross Astronomical Society is recognized as one of the oldest and most prolific amateur astronomical societies in the Western Hemisphere.
Winter Star Party
The Winter Star Party was established by a group from the Southern Cross Astronomical Society (SCAS) by Skip Jarrett, Tippy D'Auria, and Patty D'Auria in 1984, and is recognized as one of the "Top Ten" star party events in the world.