Astronomical League

The Astronomical League Mission Statement

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To promote the science of astronomy

  • By fostering astronomical education
  • By providing incentives for astronomical observation and research
  • By assisting communication among amateur astronomical societies

Astronomical League LogoThe Astronomical League is composed of over two hundred and forty local amateur astronomical societies from all across the United States. These organizations, along with our Members-at-Large, Patrons, and Supporting members form one of the largest amateur astronomical organizations in the world.

The mission of the Astronomical League is clearly stated 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 Astronomical League currently sponsors over 50 observing programs for its members to participate in; more will be added in the future, I’m sure. These programs help to give focus and direction to many observers. Ranging from beginning programs for the novice, to those which require a major effort from an observer long committed to the hobby — from naked eye observing to projects requiring a major light bucket — and from orbital satellites through the shallow sky of the solar system to the deep reaches of intergalactic space, these programs have caught the imagination and attention of hundreds of amateur observers. In fact there are a number of professional astronomers who continue to hone their observational skills by participating in AL observing programs.

Astronomical League PinsThe programs provide awards in the form of certificates and pins to recognize the observers’ accomplishments and for demonstrating their observing skills with a variety of instruments and objects. You are required to observe a specific number of objects of a specific group with a specific type of instrument. Some programs have multiple levels of accomplishment within the program, and some permit observations of different types and note this on your certificate. There is no time limit for completing the required observing, but good record keeping is required.

The programs are designed to be individual effort. Each individual must perform all the requirements of each program themselves and not rely on other people to locate the objects. This technique is called “piggy-backing” and is not acceptable for logging objects for any of the programs. You are allowed to look through another observer’s telescope to see what the object looks like, but you still need to locate and observe the object on your own.

When you reach the requisite number of objects, your observing logs are turned into your ALCor Reps and examined.

When you complete a program by yourself, you should feel a sense of pride and great accomplishment for what you have just completed. Each program is designed not only to show you a variety of objects in the sky, but to also familiarize you with your telescope and how to use it, night-sky navigation (the ability to find the objects in the vastness of space) and to learn some eye-training techniques that will enhance your viewing of the objects of the programs.

Discounted memberships in the League are available to TAAA members!

For more details about the League, please visit the Astronomical League website.