CCRS students learn lessons in preservation

This month, we were so pleased to have guest speaker Allana Parker for our March 27th Brown Bag. While Allana attended K-State, she became one of the first interns the Chapman Center had in 2009, after which she attended KU. Allana is now the Curator of Design at the Riley County Historical Museum.

The Chapman Center has two collections it is working with. The first, a collection of diaries from an early 1900 pioneer woman, is fragile, presenting challenges as intern Mitchell Alexander uses Optimal Character Recognition to transcribe them to readable formats. The second, a vibrant collection of photos and memorabilia from Helen Rogler, has been exposed to some environmental hazards necessitating the use of a homemade humidifier, created by Emily Petermann, in flattening and unfolding the documents without perforations. We wanted to know how to safely handle these items in our temporary care and to ensure no further deterioration as we digitize these items for future generations.


Allana Parker, Curator of Design at the Riley County Historical Museum, describes the difference between conservation and preservation to Chapman Center students Julia Anderson and Katie Goldenstein.

Allana offered tons of helpful tips on preservation and how to ensure proper handling, display, and storage of important items in collections.  Bringing neat examples, she demonstrated the damage of sun exposure to cloth and corroded paper clips to historical documents. We learned about the importance of guarding collections from humidity, light, off gassing materials like harmful plastics, and overuse. And, most importantly, students were taught to maintain the integrity of the original object!

The audience also got to see innovative and cost-effective ways that items can be displayed and stored such as textiles, books (in a way that protects the binding), and more with the help of foam, cotton muslin, and acid free storage materials!

Our team came away with a tool kit for doing the best we can to prevent deterioration of the items in the collections we work with now and those that students may work with in the future.

Thanks, Allana!



Written by Maggie Cody



Chapman Center debuts Brown Bag Lunch Series and links students with tools for research

The Chapman Center has long prided itself in equipping students with hands on skills that they can take into any career, skills like data collection, critical thinking, archiving, web publishing, media presentation, and, above all, the skill to produce a well-written and researched publication.

Our vision is for students to leave their time in the Center with these tools, a greater investment in their communities, and the confidence and perspective to achieve their life goals, personally and professionally.

Our Center has steadily grown and the number of initiatives and projects are many and varied. This semester faculty and staff asked the question:  How do we structure the environment to engage students, broaden their vision, encourage collaboration, and facilitate learning?

Our solution was the “Brown Bag Lunch Series.”

Every Wednesday, Chapman Center faculty, staff, and students-a group of 12-gather to share lunch while discussing and being trained in research topics. Dr. Aley started off the series with tips and tools on how to caption photos, how to correctly cite, and how to professionally and politely approach archivists and historians in museums and historical societies for help. Dr. Lynn-Sherow raised awareness of logical fallacies that can creep into rural research and the importance of a multidisciplinary vision, especially when you’ve reached a dead-end in your research. For the remainder of the semester, we will cover topics of culture competency, archaeology, and preservation.

At the beginning of March we were thrilled to have guest speakers Ryan Otto and Dr. Sara Kearns from K-State Libraries come and share research techniques and tools with our students.


Ryan Otto, Digital Librarian, Hale Library

Ryan, Digital Librarian, gave our group tips on storing data appropriately to avoid all-too-common digital loss. As a digital humanities lab, the Chapman Center wants to ensure our collections are accessible long after they are completed. In order for this continued accessibility, Ryan notes that projects must be deliberate in the information saved and how it is saved. Ryan showed us the 5 organizational stages to a digital preservation project and demonstrated the importance of a well-designed schema of metadata and microdata for digital collections, using KREX, K-State’s research repository, as an example.


Dr. Sara K. Kearns, Librarian for the Humanities, Hale Library

Dr. Sara K. Kearns, Development Librarian for Arts, Architecture, and the Humanities, introduced our students to Zotero, a free personal research assistant that serves as a fantastic aid to collecting, organizing, citing and sharing research. She also taught students how to research material items. First, she showed us an image of a mysterious metal object which was said to be an old fencer.  By searching numbers at the patent office website, searching Google images, and browsing K-State farm journals to investigate the origins of items, students witnessed the piecing together of research to arrive at the identity of the item. With each source, the item was unveiled through research resources available to K-State students!

Our students benefited greatly from Ryan and Sara’s presentations. As a result, they are thinking bigger, broadening the scope of their research, and have expanded the research tools at their disposal.




Written by Maggie Cody

Online Journal for Rural Research & Policy announces top article for 2018


The Online Journal of Rural Research & Policy is a peer-reviewed, online publication that publishes academic and community-based research, commentary, and policy articles focused on the Great Plains for academic and community audiences alike. Since 2006, it has been the OJRRP’s mission not just to present theory but stimulate meaningful discussion, encourage research on rural issues, and improve access to information that promotes and enhances rural people and places.

Its mission is inextricably linked with the Chapman Center’s mission to research, preserve, and share the history and lived experience of rural places. Chapman Center Director Dr. Bonnie Lynn-Sherow edits the journal with assistance from grad student Bradley Galka.

Since 2017, the OJRRP editorial board recognizes the top article published each year. The honorary $500 prize, the Thomas P. Gould award, was named for beloved K-State A. Q. Miller School of Journalism professor and founding editor of the OJRRP who passed away in February 2016. His wife, Cheryl Gould, donated half of the prize money in his honor.

Koch_Capitol Summit_Photo

H. Martin Koch

H. Martin Koch earned this year’s award for his article  “Digital Utilities: The Factors Impacting Municipal Broadband Decisions Among Local Leaders” which examines the challenges to providing rural communities with adequate internet access and proposes strategies for community action to overcome these hurdles.

“My article is intended for anyone who is interested in helping their community prosper through access to more economical, equitable and effective information systems,” Koch said. “It illustrates challenges and solutions to municipal broadband implementation by leveraging statistical analysis with the practical expertise of Kansas community managers.” Koch, a 2017 University of Kansas graduate with an M.A. in Geography, is currently employed as an environmental compliance and regulatory specialist for the Kansas Department of Agriculture.

Check out the announcement in K-State Today and join us in congratulating this year’s winner!

Interested in being considered for the 2019 award? The OJRRP welcomes original research and policy articles from all disciplines authored by scholars, students, community development practitioners and policy makers. To see if your article fits in the mission of the OJRRP, contact editor, Bonnie Lynn-Sherow at

Dream Team, Spring 2019

We can’t believe it is already another semester! And with a new semester comes a new team at the Chapman Center for Rural Studies. This semester CCRS has a big crew. Read on to learn about our talented team and the projects they will be pursuing.

Mitchell Alexander, History 650 Intern


My name is Mitchell Alexander, a History Major at Kansas State University. In my spare time I enjoy self studying history alongside my formal qualifications for the profession. I come from Overland Park, Kansas. You can bet that I’ll give the best work that I can produce for any current and future employment. I hope in the future that I can gain a nice career within the history field with a living wage be it in museums, libraries or anywhere else the major takes me!

Mitchell is working on digitizing the Adelaide Whisler collection. Adelaide kept a handwritten diary that provides insights into the daily life of pioneer Kansans through the early 20th Century. Mitchell will be working to scan high quality images of her entries and using Optical Character Recognition to transcribe her whimsical handwriting to a readable digital format. 

Julia Anderson, Research Intern


Julia Anderson, Secondary Education

Hello! My name is Julia Anderson and my major is Secondary Education with a focus on Social Studies.

I was raised in Kentucky but I lived in China for the last three years of high school. My parents both went to KSU and I have a lot of family in the area so that’s how I ended up here. I love learning about history and different cultures, along with helping kids and teenagers.

After I earn my teaching degree I hope to enter graduate school and pursue a masters in counseling so I can be a high school counselor.

Julia is working with Research Director Ginette Aley  to pick a lost town to research.

Katie Goldenstein, Research Intern


Katie Goldenstein, Secondary Education

My name is Katie Goldenstein. I am a junior from Augusta, Kansas, pursuing my degree in Secondary Education with a focus in Social Studies. I live in Manhattan, Kansas with my high school sweetheart – now husband, Jacob. I received my associates in liberal arts from Butler Community College where I also worked as their Marketing Photographer for two years and was awarded the Cron History Award of Excellence.

Participating in historical reenactments with my dad sparked an infatuation with history. My passion has increased with age and education.  At the Chapman Center, I am applying both my enthusiasm for history and visual arts talents to the Clyde Cessna Homestead project. I am currently developing branding for the project as well as pursuing fundraising opportunities. In addition to the Cessna Project I also tutor K-State athletes in history.

Outside of history, I have a strong passion for photography, oil painting, and interior design. My husband and I love to travel, hike, and camp. We are also big wrestling fans and were very involved in our little league wrestling club back in Augusta. I am the oldest of six kids, lover of all animals, and God Mother to two beautiful kidos.

One day, I hope to transfer my experience in History Education to museum work but right now I am having a great time in the College of Ed and am really looking forward to educating young minds in the near future.

Ethan Levin, Research Intern


Ethan Levin, History & Jazz Studies

I am a junior at Kansas State working on a degree in History and a minor in Jazz Studies. A Manhattan native, I have had a love for history all my life. As the current president of the Cool History Club, I enjoy meeting others that love learning about the past. In addition to history, I have a passion for music and play the electric guitar for several local jazz combos and rock bands in Manhattan. My claim to fame is playing “Eruption” by Van Halen blindfolded, one handed while drinking a glass of water, earning me the nickname “Guitar Guy” across the Greek Life community.

Since my freshman year I have worked at the Chapman Center and, among other projects, am the current lead researcher for the Clyde Cessna project, hoping to preserve his historic forty-acre farm. This encompassed building and managing the website for the Clyde Cessna Homestead Society. I have been researching Clyde Cessna since day one at the Chapman Center when the topic was assigned to me by chance. Since then I’ve gained a passion for Clyde’s story and love finding new aspects of it. For my internship this semester I hope to research Kingman County, Kansas. Kingman is not only the home of Clyde Cessna but where my grandmother grew up. I am excited for this semester and the continuation of research that I’m passionate about.

Ethan McCary, returning Research Intern


Ethan McCary, History & Political Science

We are excited to have Ethan McCary rejoin us this semester. Ethan completed a town study of Sylvia, Kansas. Check it out in our archive! He is continuing research on an even bigger project. It involves collecting many oral histories. So far, Ethan has interviewed several individuals including K-State President General Richard Myers!

My name is Ethan McCary. I’m from Salina, KS and am currently a junior majoring in History and minoring in Political Science. My obsession with history stems from the exposure I had to it as a small child. Reading books off my father’s and grandfather’s shelves about Military History and listening to family stories sparked this. Because of this, Military History is the subject that I hope to specialize in, in the future. Following graduation, I hope to attend graduate school, or pursue career opportunities. My other interests include Security Studies, Geography and Astronomy. My hobbies include Photography, watching college sports and my beloved Borussia Dortmund, as well as collecting items and documents with historical significance. Go Cats!

Sara Partin, Manuscript Designer/Editor

I am a sophomore majoring in English Literature. When I graduate in Fall of 2020, I intend to pursue a Master’s degree in English after which I hope to enter


Sara Partin, English Literature

the publishing field as an editor or the field of linguistics. A California native, I moved to Kansas in 2011 and have resided outside Wichita ever since. I am passionate about reading and writing and the talented people I am surrounded with every day. At K-State, I am the Panhellenic Delegate of my sorority Alpha Chi Omega. I am also a member of the Silver Key Sophomore Honor Society and the University Honors Program as well. Since late Fall 2018 I have been copy-editing and designing a manuscript for the Pat Sauble project. The manuscript tells the proud ranching heritage of a Kansas family with vibrant stories and captivating photos. I have been working closely with representatives from Mennonite Press, Inc, a commercial book printer for publishers, gaining hands-on experience in my field.

Emily Petermann, Student Office Staff/Pioneer Bluffs Project Lead

Emily Petermann

Emily Petermann, History & Anthropology

I’m Emily Petermann, a Sophomore double majoring in History and Anthropology, and double minoring in English and Classics. I’m a native Manhattanite, with family ties to rural Kansas. Spending my summers and weekends in rural Kansas has given me a great deal of respect for these small communities, and the belief that we should do everything we can to preserve their histories. In my spare time I love to read, take walks with my dog, bake, and have an interest in preservation- I recently took on the task of scanning and organizing family letters from WW2.

At the Chapman Center I help with day-to-day operations. In addition, I have been tasked with digitizing a collection of materials from Pioneer Bluffs aided by my experience working at K-State Library. Since the material is dated and some of the scrapbook pages brittle, I am learning techniques in preservation and conservation. I hope that these hands-on experiences will benefit me in my career. I plan to pursue a Masters in Library Science.

Christopher Simerl, Student Office Staff 


Christopher Simerl, Architectural Engineering

I am Christopher Simerl, a senior in Architectural Engineering from Topeka, KS. I enjoy courses in mechanical and electrical systems and plan to graduate in May 2020.

With knowledge gained from my degree, I hope to find a job restoring and repurposing historic buildings for posterity. I have been interested in historic preservation since I was a child when I first starting learning about the dismal state of many historically significant buildings around my city. I hope that with what I have learned at K-State, I will be able to prevent further decay and disrepair in the buildings that have made communities what they are today. At home, I enjoy watching movies, learning about vintage technology, and collecting vinyl records.

As a Student Office Assistant at the Center, Christopher helps lighten the workloads of the Chapman team in order to expedite research projects. He is currently aiding in the development of press release packets for our Kansas delegation to receive before Humanities Advocacy Day highlighting the importance of continued funding for the humanities. 

Dr. Aley to present President’s Day lecture at University of Saint Mary’s Lincoln Event

Dr. Aley to present President’s Day lecture at University of Saint Mary’s Lincoln Event

Our Research Director, Dr. Ginette Aley, will be presenting at the University of Saint Mary’s 21st Annual Lincoln Event. Dr. Aley, a Civil War and Midwestern home front historian, will deliver a talk titled “The Challenges on the Home Front: Union and Confederate Women and Families”, exploring how northern and southern communities responded to the conflict and the societal impacts on everyday life and identities.

The lecture will be held Monday, February 18th, 2019 at 7 p.m. and is open to the public in Saint Mary’s Xavier Theater at 4100 S. Fourth Street Leavenworth, Kansas. Admission is free and no rsvp is required. A reception will follow the presentation.

The Lincoln Event originated in 1999 as a way to showcase USM’s Hall Lincoln Collection. Attendees to the event can see the collection which includes an original signed copy of the 13th Amendment.

We encourage any readers near Leavenworth to attend this event!

For more information, visit the Lincoln Event page. 2019_lincolneventheader

So You Want to Buy a Telescope? The 5 Step Guide to Getting Started in Amateur Astronomy in Kansas

So You Want to Buy a Telescope? The 5 Step Guide to Getting Started in Amateur Astronomy in Kansas

Seeing Saturn’s rings through a telescope in Eskridge, Kansas at the North East Kansas Astronomical League August star party was enough to pique my interest, huddled with two dozen people on a concrete slab in rural Kansas peeking through the eyepiece under a dazzling night sky. Perhaps, this is your story too. You’ve been hooked. Like me, you want to get out there and learn about the starry night sky. Also, like me, you’ve done a cursory search of the internet just to find an overwhelming scourge of sponsored content and product reviews for telescopes that cost more than your net worth. Or, perhaps, you’ve stumbled on the complex theoreticians whose physics calculations would make any nonscientist’s head spin.

The truth is, stargazing is for anyone.

We asked Gary Hug, amateur astronomer from the Northeast Kansas Amateur Astronomical League about what it takes to get started in amateur astronomy. Here is your absolute beginner 5 step guide to jump starting your astronomy hobby and, maybe even your astronomy career.


1). Location: find a clear, dark spot away from light pollution

Stargazing can be done anywhere. But astronomers are provided the most vivid panorama when the sky is clear and dark. One of the greatest challenges of being an astronomer in Kansas? “Cloud coverage”, Gary sighed. “It’s important to avoid light pollution if possible.” Altitude is another way to get the best view of the night sky. The higher up an astronomer picks a spot the more likely he or she is to escape light pollution and turbulence. That’s why the best places to stargaze are quiet, dark, elevated areas in rural Kansas. Avoid nights with a full moon. The best times to star gaze is when the moon is at its crescent phases.

Observatories are typically great locations to start, operated by astronomy clubs as nonprofit organizations. Often, equipment is available for use by visitors. Farpoint Observatory, 30 miles southeast of Topeka, where I attended my first star party, was a perfect spot. The Warkoczewski Observatory on the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus, also throws its doors open in the summer to the public. Powell Observatory, near Louisburg, operated by volunteers has a similar summer program for aspiring stargazers. For Kansans, opportunities abound.

In addition to observatories, state parks and nature and science centers are also great places to get your feet wet. Banner Creek Science Center in Holton, Hillsdale Lake State Park, and Fall River State Park are recommended areas (Salazar).


Avoid a MOON!

Staying local? There are a few great apps that help locate areas with limited light pollution and give reviews, sky charts, and directions. I downloaded the Dark Sky Finder app recently on a trip outside Kartchner Caverns State Park in Sierra Vista, Arizona, just to run into….a bright and full moon.



2). Gear: a minimalist approach

No matter where you go, you’ll need some gear. But, don’t worry. Like me, you’ve probably been persuaded by your internet searches that stargazers are for hobbyists with cash flow. Not so! Amateur astronomy is accessible even for the cash-strapped newbie.

andromeda galaxy“Learning the sky requires nothing more than your eyes,” says Gary. “The constellations, meteors, planets, and our own galaxy, the Milky Way…It is even possible with a dark sky away from city lights to see a galaxy outside our own. The Andromeda Galaxy is 2.3 million light years away and can be seen on a clear dark night as a faint patch of sky in the fall-with no optical aid at all.”


To be oriented and know what you are looking at, any amateur astronomer’s greatest tool is a star map. Thankfully, there’s an app for that too and several to choose from. Forbes magazine names Star Walk 2, Star Chart, and Sky View among the top free stargazing apps that maps the night sky right from your phone.

If you are using an app, don’t forget to bring along some red paper. Why? To help maintain dark adaptation to night viewing. Astrophysicist and blogger Brian Koberlein explains: “It only takes a brief exposure to bright light for your rods to over expose. Once that happens, you have a half hour or more to regain dark sensitivity, which can seriously hamper your astronomy experience. Since rods are less sensitive to red light, you can use a red light source (or filter) to view things without ruining your night vision” (“Blinded by the Light”). To construct a filter, use red construction paper, tape or a rubber band.

Gary Hug suggests that the next step for an amateur astronomer is a good set of binoculars. Binoculars can magnify vision up to 50% of what a telescope can. Wide lens binoculars are best to help collect more light. They can be used to view large star clusters, star clouds, and even the moon will show major craters and lunar maria which are moon plains filled with solidified lava. “No, don’t go out and buy an expensive telescope.”

3) Learn

guide to stargazing

There are enumerable free resources for the novice star gazer on the web. The web hosts thousands of blogs from astronomers, astrophysicists, and astronomical groups who educate and share their experiences. offers a free e-book on getting started in astronomy. YouTube has some helpful basics to introduce the constellations and how to differentiate stars and planets.

Your local library is another prime spot for research. Check your local library for National Geographic Space Atlas. With captivating pictures, vivid descriptions, and detailed star maps, it will be sure to pique your curiosity. If the library doesn’t have it, see if you can access it through interlibrary loan services.

Gary Hug’s interest in astronomy which began when he was 12 years old was solidified when he took astronomy classes at Washburn University. If you are interested in pursuing knowledge at the collegiate level, Kansas University has several observational astronomy classes at the 200-level. Kansas State University offers a few classes as well.

“Astronomy is a learning hobby. When you learn, it builds on itself.” Gary describes his storied career as an amateur astronomer a satisfying one. His pursuit in learning astronomy and his observations have expanded the boundaries of knowledge and helped shape and refine astronomical data.

4). Get Connected

The most important step is to get connected. Yes, astronomy is an individual event and endeavor. But, as a beginner, it’s important to plug into a community that can help you learn the ropes. Kansas is rich in astronomical clubs and societies. These communities can offer equipment use, inspire interests, and provide knowledge, support, mentorship, and training to novice stargazers. In 1977, Gary Hug and Brian Schaff started the Northeast Kansas Amateur Astronomical League which is still active today. They frequently host educational events at Farpoint Observatory that can be found on the Meetup app. Last week, Gary showed me the command center and we collected data on Near Earth Objects using the Tombaugh telescope (pictured below). It’s an experience I’ll never forget.

tombaugh telescope

The Tombaugh Telescope at Farpoint Observatory

gary hug-command center

The Command Center at Farpoint Observatory in Eskridge, Kansas

Looking for a star party or event near you? Visit NASA’s Solar System Ambassador’s program which provides a listing all over the world or visit NASA’s Night Sky Network.


5). Ready. Set. Stargazestar parties

You are now equipped to begin stargazing. Immerse yourself in the starry night and have fun. Over time, your experience could lead you to discoveries like Graham Bell who co-discovered the Hug-Bell comet in 1999 after only 18 months of stargazing. It was the first comet discovered in Kansas and earned Hug and Bell the Edgar Wilson Award.

The stars are truly limitless.


Written by: Maggie Cody



Hug, Gary. Personal Interview. 27 November 2018.

Salzar, Daniel. “Clear skies, full hearts, can’t lose: Where Kansans go to stargaze.” Wichita Eagle, 10 June 2016. URL:

Kansas: Where the Stars are Limitless

Kansas: Where the Stars are Limitless

In a small town in central Kansas, two dozen people stand on a concrete slab on an August night. It is pitch black and excitement reverberates through the small crowd of young and old all united in observing the night sky. Some sit on blankets squinting through binoculars. Others huddle by the several telescopes spread around the patio, talking about planets and space stations. There are people in lawn chairs, blankets, and truck beds. Inside, still more people stand near the Tombaugh 17.5 inch telescope, the pride of observatory. They range from the casually interested to the novices picking out constellations to hardcore enthusiasts talking of astrophysics and theory.

This is the nekaalexperience someone would uncover if they participated in Farpoint Observatory’s star parties, an opportunity to learn and experience the wonders of the night sky. The star party is one of the ways the Northeast Kansas Amateur Astronomy League (NEKAAL) lives out its mission, to share the observations of the heavens through education and research. For the last 25 years, Farpoint Observatory has become a piece in the rural Kansas cultural fabric, enriching education, bringing people together, and enhancing the science of astronomy.

Enriching Education

Amateur astronomer Brenda Culbertson-Kansas native, speaker and author, and former president of NEKAAL- grew up in rural Grantville. In November 1991, she recalled a childhood of stargazing in Kansas:

“Growing up in a small town helps enhance the desires of younger individuals to learn more about regions beyond their immediate reach…[and] enhance their interests in the sciences,” she wrote. “I feel I am helping many people of other small towns get a taste of celestial observing by arranging observational sessions. These observing sessions help the schools since many do not enhance astronomy, nor do they have the equipment to do so” (“Growing up in a small town”).

Education is one of the greatest values astronomical clubs and observatories offer to communities. Programming such as monthly star parties provide opportunities to spark interest in young astronomers.

At these parties, the scientific process of identifying and observing constellations,


M8: The Lagoon Nebula Image by Ignacio Bobillo

planets, stars, and other celestial objects becomes accessible to nonscientists. Imaging near earth objects from the Tombaugh telescope makes science accessible, relevant and is experienced. The value extends beyond the pursuit of astronomy to other areas of science. While stars may not interest someone, the telescope might or the way the building is outfitted to guard against wear and tear. Gary Hug, career amateur astronomer, was interested by the optics and mechanization of telescopes when he first encountered astronomy at age 12. His preoccupation with the way things worked led him to a career as a machinist.

Similarly, Clyde Tombaugh, famous astronomer and discoverer of Pluto, was a small town Kansas farm boy who built telescopes from farm equipment.  Pieces of the telescope Tombaugh built while a graduate student at Kansas University were incorporated into Farpoint Observatories’ telescope to preserve the history and legacy of Clyde’s work.

clyde tombaugh
Courtesy of Kansas Memory. Clyde Tombaugh at age 22 with his homemade 9-inch Newtonian Telescope on his family’s farm near Burdett, Kansas. Tombaugh discovered the planet Pluto in 1930 and fourteen asteroids during his long career.

Contributing to Science

Kansas has a rich history of astronomy and astronomical contributions. NEKAAL and Farpoint have contributed greatly through data collecting, identifying asteroids, and even discovering a comet. Since the Northeast Kansas Amateur Astronomy League began in 1977, co-founded by Gary Hug and Brian Schaff, the NEKAAL team has had a storied career. Gary Hug recalled starting an asteroid observing program in 1997 called FAST (Farpoint Asteroid Search Team), “We discovered the 1st of our nearly 300 main belt asteroid discoveries over the next several years.” Based off of this program, NEKAAL earned a grant from NASA to install the Tombaugh refractor telescope for follow-up observations. The goal was to verify data coming from other observations in order to determine the orbit of these Near Earth Objects (NEOs). “Each of these objects at one time or another had a small but mathematically possible chance of an Earth impact,” Gary explained. During this program, 4,700 Near Earth Object observations were sent to the Minor Planet Center at Harvard. One, in particular, the asteroid 2013 AS27, was identified as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid at Gary’s backyard Sandlot Observatory after the NASA grant program was completed.

Gary himself has personally made over 16,000 NEO observations over the last 2 decades. He and fellow observer Graham Bell discovered the first comet in Kansas in 1999, earning the pair the rare Edgar Wilson Award and recognition from the Planetary Society. As a nonprofit organization, the group has relied on donations, membership fees, and grants to continue the important work they’ve been doing for decades.


Farpoint Observatory in Eskridge, Kansas

                NEKAAL and Farpoint Obsersavatory have enriched education for Kansas residents who participate in their programs. They have built a community of passionate amateur astronomers who have made significant contributions to the scientific community. But this rural gem offers more than just science, more than astronomy, and more than education. It offers community, connection, and a safe space to explore the wonders of the night sky. If you’d like to experience it for yourself, join for the next meeting or star part event. You won’t be disappointed.

-Maggie Cody

References & Additional Reading

Culbertson, Brenda. “Growing up in a small town.” The Valley Falls Indicator (Valley Falls, Kansas) 14 Nov 1991: pg 2.

“Historic telescope getting new mission.” The Manhattan Mercury (Manhattan, KS) 18 June 2004: pg 3.

Hug, Gary. Personal Interview. 27 November 2018.

Kaberline. Carolyn. “Keeping an eye on wonders in the night sky.” The Topeka-Capital Journal,, 15 Mar 2009. URL:          15/keeping_an_eye_on_wonders_in_night_sky

Suber, Jim. “Kansan helps others discover astronomy.” The Manhattan Mercury (Manhattan, KS), 03 Apr 2005: pg 22.