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Astronomical League observing programs/pins.

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#1 csa/montana

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 11:11 AM

Folks, we'd like to see how many are interested in this subject. So please post your thoughts, and of course your observing certificate/pin accomplishments!

#2 droid

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 11:45 AM

Im interested......in 2008 and 2009 I was a member at large.
Started the messier club , got 74 objects, enough for my Messier certificate, Dated March 30th 2009 , alas life and things happen.
So I never completed the remainder to get the pin.
Id like to sign up again, will I need to start over or , just contact someone with my certificate number, and then finish???

#3 uniondrone

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 02:00 PM

I completed the Lunar Program, but haven't sent in the observations for the pin yet. I thought that the lunar program was a great way to make use of all those clear nights that inevitably come when the moon is in the way.

I've made numerous other observations that can count toward other pins. For me the idea of earning pins is rather corny, but the idea of having good observing lists and setting goals is very useful.

#4 iceblaze

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 02:51 PM

I finished the Lunar program and was awarded the pin/certificate on November 20th.. I am #800. The AL is awesome and gives me direction in this hobby. Next up is the Galileo program, as soon as I get a proper scope that can do 20x.. :grin:

-James

#5 FJA

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 03:12 PM

I have done the Binocular Messier and Binocular Deep Sky plus Globular Clusters. AL programs are great, as I am someone who tends to aimlessly mill about from one object to another without direction, it's nice to have a structured approach.

#6 vsteblina

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 03:35 PM

Are you representing the Astronomical League in these programs?

Three of us were members at large and completed the Herschel 400. We sent in for the certificates and were told we were not eligible. Not sure if that was because we were members at large, but it was obvious nobody really cared at the League about following up.

It didn't matter to me, but it did to the other two guys.

Anyway, to make a long story short we dropped our membership in the league as a result.

#7 RAKing

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 03:41 PM

I have the Double Star award and the Variable Star award. I am almost finished with the Carbon Star award.

Even though I have seen all the Messier objects hundreds of times, I never star-hopped to most of them. So I bought an Orion XT8 and star hopped to 62 Messier objects before I had to have back surgery. I plan to finsh the Messier certificate next March.

To me, the AL programs are challenging, fun, and educational. They give me something new to look for each year. I'll probably try the Globular Cluster or Open Cluster lists in 2013.

Cheers,

Ron

#8 Dave74

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 03:59 PM

I'm interested in the messier certificate. I think it's a great way to learn the sky and earn a little prestige among the amateur astronomy community. Why not?

#9 csa/montana

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 05:14 PM

Are you representing the Astronomical League in these programs?



I assume you were replying to me; as I started the thread. No, CN nor myself are representing the Astronomical League; rather thought it might be an interesting thread for those that are interested. Any questions re/ the League, would have to be directed to them.

#10 Michael Rapp

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 09:20 PM

I love them!

I had the great fortune to start out in astronomy as a member of a League-associated club back when the League only had three awards (or clubs, as they actually are called): Messier, Herschel, and Sunspotters.

The Messier certificate was a rite of passage for any club member. That certificate meant that you, well 1) you had stayed with the hobby at least through a calendar year and 2) had a certain familiarity with the sky.

With high school and college always getting in the way, I took six years to get my Messier Certificate (the first 70), but I was exceptionally proud of it. Moreover, the Messier Certificate meant that you had "permission" to go on for the holy grail: The Herschel 400. (Twenty-two years later, I'm still working on it!)

Since then, there has been a virtual explosion in observing programs. Binocular clubs were added, as well as double star, globular, open cluster, lunar clubs, and the Herschel program was expanded to have an additional 400. Many challenging awards were added: Arp, and Galaxy Clusters for example. There are enough award programs now to keep one busy for several lifetimes. (I wonder if someone is working towards getting all of them!)

Two of the most important changes over the years were the inclusion of CCD options for some of the more advanced clubs, and -- with what much have been the most rancorous arguments -- inclusion of goto technology, where appropriate, on some of the awards.

The awards, of course, are not for everyone. For some, chasing certificates isn't enjoyable. My personality type (INTJ), seems to relish in it. (I like checking off items off of lists, a hallmark of the "J".) I like the structured programs and at the end, I get a large degree of personal satisfaction and accomplishment when I complete one of the awards. These awards are not easy and often are multi-year efforts involving 50 to 100 objects or more.

I also applaud the League's effort to maintain the spirit of many of the original awards. The Messier and Herschel certificates are meant to encourage the person to learn the sky and perfect their star-hopping technique. There's a great deal of tradition with these awards and I am glad to see that maintained.

I personally think the League's use of endorsements on their awards is an excellent compromise on the method front. That is, on many of the newer awards, your method and equipment is listed, such as Manual or Digitally-Assisted (setting circles or goto) or V for visual and C for CCD.

Now to get back to my Herschels.....

#11 Doc Willie

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 10:05 PM

I am working on the Lunar, Messier, and Sunspotter programs, as well as the Master level Outreach Award. I find these programs help focus my observing, and as a result, my observational skills have improved.

#12 LivingNDixie

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 10:07 PM

Huge fan of the pins and the Astronomical League.
I have the Bino Messier, Lunar, EOSOC, Solar System (when I did it was called Planetary). I am currently working on the Herschel 400 and Carbon Star, and this summer plan on doing the Sunspot. I just finished my Globular Cluster pin just waiting on getting the certificate. My personal goal is to earn the Master Observer pin

Oh and Michael, there is one guy here in Birmingham that has almost every pin, including the southern sky ones. He did it in about 5 or 6 years and from what I am told travels a lot.

#13 David Pavlich

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 10:24 PM

The only pin I have is for attending 5 or more outreach events. I think it's a great idea. Some of the awards are downright tough to achieve.

Good thread, Carol!

David

#14 csa/montana

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 12:00 AM

Good thread, Carol!



David, the thread was an idea Preston (LivinNDixie) had; I just followed his lead. :)

Really glad to see the response, and I'm going to start looking into some of the achievements!

#15 David Knisely

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 01:45 AM

I did the Messier Club in the mid 1970's (Award #224) and Herschel 400 program in the mid 1980's (Award #15). I also have observed all the Herschel II's but now, I am kind of balking at the League's "requirement" that one buy their guide book and use its enclosed "Submital Form" to apply for the award. I have been observing for over 40 years (and a member of the League for nearly that long), so what do I need a silly "guidebook" for? Sorry, I'm not interested.

I did get one League Award (well, two actually) that I wasn't expecting, namely the regular and "Stellar" Outreach Awards courtesy our club's outreach coordinator. I hadn't applied for them, but our club outreach coordinator was keeping track of all the hours many of us had put in, and submitted the documentation for our awards without telling us. We got kind of blown away when we were handed our award certificates and pins at a club meeting, so it really meant a lot. These are probably the awards that I am most appreciative of, as all I had to do to get them was spend some of my own time just to help people outside of our hobby see some of the wonders of the universe that I get to look at on a regular basis. I often get more enjoyment out of doing outreach than when I am hunting down some obscure faint fuzzies, so an award for doing that is just the icing on the cake (and I don't need to buy any silly guide book to do it!). Clear skies to you.

#16 frito

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 02:25 AM

i love the idea and a week ago printed out the messier list and both their urban lists if only to just use as a personal goal when i'm out observing.

#17 Rich (RLTYS)

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 08:46 AM

I've completed the Lunar, Double Star, Comet (Gold Level), Variable Star, Carbon Star and Binocular Double Star Programs. I'm looking forward to the Stellar Evolution Program.

Rich (RLTYS)

#18 cliff mygatt

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 12:22 PM

I am the national coordinator for the Lunar II program, so feel free to talk to me about awards. I have earned the following: Messier, Globular Clusters, Master Outreach, Open Clusters, Herschel 400, Lunar, Lunar II, Constellations, Planetary Nebula, Dark Nebula, Binocular Messier, Double Stars, Binocular Deep Sky, Caldwell, Urban, Venus Transit and Master Obsever Progams. I am working on Solar System, Herschel II, Carbon Stars and Asterism programs. I find the Al programs help me focus on my observing and provide direction as well as helping me learn more about what I am observing.

P.S. Dr. Aaron Clevenson is the national observing program coordinator and is very helpful with obsering program issues. Vladmir, you should contact him to get your Hershcel issue resolved particulary if you met all the requirements.

#19 csa/montana

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 12:26 PM

Cliff, thanks for contributing to this thread, including the information you gave!

#20 dennyhenke

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 01:12 PM

I don't know how much I care about the pin/certificate... I might go through the motions to get them but not currently a member. More importantly though, I am greatly enjoying going through the lists and intend complete as many as I can. Almost finished with Messier and making good progress with the Herschel 400. I've just started tracking my double star observations.

No doubt having the lists has helped give me a goal to work towards. I would likely be much more random about my observations.

#21 John_G

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 01:25 PM

I'm working through the Deep Sky Binocular and Carbon Star programs. I'm not a member but I'm enjoying the lists. Only about 9 more wintertime clusters to with the Deep Sky list. I won't be submitting for any pins or certificates.

#22 City Kid

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 08:42 PM

I enjoy working through the Astronomical League observing clubs a lot. I have completed the Urban, Double Star, Messier, Binocular Messier, Deep Sky Binocular, Lunar, Caldwell (the basic one), and the Herschel 400 lists. I am currently working on the Dark Nebula, Lunar II, Binocular Double Star, and Planetary Nebula lists. Working through these lists has turned me on to many objects that I wouldn't have observed otherwise.

#23 vsteblina

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 09:38 PM

P.S. Dr. Aaron Clevenson is the national observing program coordinator and is very helpful with obsering program issues. Vladmir, you should contact him to get your Hershcel issue resolved particulary if you met all the requirements.


Well, we did resolve the issue. We quit the Astronomical League!!

I called the lady and asked what we needed to submit for the H400 certificate. She stated that we were not going to get a certificate. I asked if she wanted to see our observing logs and she said NO and hung up.

It was very strange. Like I said I don't really care about pins and certificates, but the other two guys did. One of them has since died and unfortunately I missed that it was important to him otherwise I would have followed up.

Clubs have some strange people. I have a life outside of astronomy so it was easier to get rid of the irritation than deal with it.

That said, the observing lists are a great way to become a better observer. It is also a fun activity to undertake as a group rather than a solitary observer.

We had a great time doing the H400. It was a pretty special time.

#24 cliff mygatt

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 10:33 PM

Vladimir, I understand and am sorry you were treated that way. The club reps are not like that now but that is the past and we move on. Thanks for your honesty and helping me understand your frustration.

#25 Dave74

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 11:02 PM

Wow! Sounds like some house cleaning has taken place. How about a posthumous certificate for Vladimir's friend? It was important to him.






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