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The League's mission is "To Promote the Science of Astronomy" by:
- Fostering astronomical education.
- Providing incentives for astronomical observation and research.
- Assisting communication among amateur astronomical societies.
Their basic goal is to encourage an interest in astronomy (and especially amateur astronomy) throughout America. Many people have seen pictures of the other planets in our Solar System from spacecraft, but have no idea that they too can see these objects with a telescope. We want people to get access to telescopes, whether it is through their local astronomical society, school, or their own instruments, and use them to view the beauty in the heavens.
The mission of the Astronomical League is clearly stated in the masthead: to promote the science of Astronomy. The major benefit of belonging to this organization is receiving the quarterly newsletter, The Reflector, which keeps you in touch with amateur activities all over the country. The chance to meet the people you read about there occurs during our annual National Convention, or at one of the ten regional conventions that the AL sponsors.
The easiest way to become part of the AL is to join one of our member societies close to you. A benefit of membership in this society is membership in the Astronomical League and part of your society dues goes to pay for your Reflector subscription.
People join the Astronomical League by joining one of its member clubs, or by paying dues as a Member at Large.
Awards and Recognition
The Astronomical League presents awards each year at the annual Astronomical League Convention to deserving people who have advanced the goals of the Astronomical League. These include promoting astronomy, contributing to the League, and advancing the science of astronomy:
- The Astronomical League Award is presented to any person, either amateur or professional, who has made worthwhile contributions to the science of astronomy on a national or international level.
- The G. R. "Bob" Wright Service Award honors current or past League volunteers for service to the Astronomical League.
- The Leslie C. Peltier Award is presented to an amateur astronomer who contributed to astronomical observations of lasting significance. This award is supported by Explore Scientific.
- National Young Astronomer Award (N.Y.A.A.) recognizes outstanding work, by amateur astronomers of high school age, in the areas of research, public education, academic scholarship in astronomy or science, observing, imaging, telescope or equipment design or construction, publications and writing, local club activities, and regional and national organizational activities. This award is supported by Explore Scientific, who also provides one of its telescopes to the First Place Winner.
- Jack Horkheimer Service Awards. Any League member under the age of 19 on the age of the application is eligible to apply for the Jack Horkheimer awards. The Award is based upon service to the League, either directly or through service to any Astronomical League society. Service could be in the form of educational outreach, knowledge and skills at public star parties or other astronomical service. Young astronomers can apply for both the National Young Astronomer Award and the Horkheimer Awards. The three awards are the Horkheimer/Smith Award, Horkheimer/Parker Award and the Horkheimer/D’Auria Award. The winner of the Horkheimer/Smith Award will receive an expenses-paid trip to the annual Astronomical League Convention, a plaque presented at the convention’s awards banquet and a $1,000 cash prize. In addition, for the past several years, Celestron, Inc. has donated one of its fine telescopes to the Horkheimer winner. Top finishers for the Horkheimer/Parker Award and the Horkeimer/A’Auria Award also receive the $1,000 cash prize.
- Horkheimer/O'Meara Journalism Award. This competition for the Horkheimer/O’Meara Youth Journalism Award is open to young writers in the 8-14 age groups. The submission should be 300 to 500 words. The League allows any science-related topic that interests the contestant –– from robin's eggs to quasars. Aside from accuracy, entries are judged on three criteria: creativity, conciseness, and clarity.
- Mabel Sterns Awardis presented for outstanding editing of a League-society newsletter. Newsletters from League-member institutions, such as planetariums, museums and event boards, are not eligible.
- Astronomical League Special Award. From time to time the Astronomical League presents special awards to people who have contributed greatly to astronomy and/or the League, but do not fall into any of the other award categories. These special awards are generally administered by the President.
- Astronomical League Webmaster Award. With the increased popularity of the Internet, the Website is an important asset to astronomy clubs. Most web sites are designed, administered and updated by the club's Webmaster.The purpose of the award is to acknowledge the club Webmaster who does an outstanding job of web site design and administration.
Clubs and Certification Programs
The Observing Clubs offer encouragement and certificates of accomplishment for demonstrating observing skills with a variety of instruments and objects. These include:
- The Outreach Club
- The Messier Club
- The Binocular Messier Club
- The Herschel 400 Club
- The Constellation Hunter Club
- The Lunar Club
The Astronomical League has a rich history of education and public outreach in astronomy from sponsoring the famous Astronomy Day event that is celebrated around the world by planetariums, clubs, and individuals. Through the coordination of for-the-public hands-on astronomical viewing events by members of its federation, through its annual Astronomical League Conventions, and through its numerous awards and certification programs.