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Astro League lists ??

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#1 chuck1155

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Posted 09 September 2013 - 01:44 PM

Hello folks.

Regarding the various Astronomical League (astroleague.org) observing lists I'm curious if most here follow thru and actually acquire the AL's certification?

I'm not much of a 'paper chaser' but I'm trying to think thru the reasons I may want to keep that option open.

What prompts the question is I've noticed that most of their lists require non-GOTO to find the object. This decision will also determine if I mount a telrad on my SCT or just a RDF.

Thanks for any feedback.
chuck

#2 cliff mygatt

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Posted 09 September 2013 - 04:26 PM

Chuck, I have completed 18 of the observing programs and I am the Lunar II national coordinator. I really enjoy pursuing the lists and get the certificates and pins for all of them. I find the programs provide direction for my limited observing time and educate me on many different astronomical objects. They are fun and it is nice to have the award presented at club meeting in front of your peers. Most all the clubs allow goto with some exceptions such as the messier and double star for reasons stated in the rules. I think everyone would find one program or another they can sink their teeth into. Good Luck and happy to answer any questions you may have about the AL observing programs.

#3 City Kid

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Posted 09 September 2013 - 05:02 PM

I have completed 8 of the lists and I'm working on 5 others. Yes I do turn in my observations and get my certificate and pin. It's nice to get them but I really just go through the lists because it forces me to observe things I might not look at on my own. I like putting the pins on the hat I wear to star parties.

#4 youngamateur42

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Posted 09 September 2013 - 07:05 PM

I completed the Messier list last In March but still haven't sent it in for a certificate and all that. I found it to be a huge learning experience in really experiencing what else is out there

#5 RAKing

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 12:09 PM

I have completed four of the lists and received my certificates for all of them. I enjoy the challenges presented by the "clubs" - each of them is a new adventure. :cool:

Because this year has been somewhat cloudy - except when the moon is out - I have almost finished the Lunar Program. :lol:

BTW - the only program I did that did not allow a GOTO mount was the Messier Program. The other four I have done, plus the two I plan to do next, allow any equipment.

Cheers,

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#6 bluesteel

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 01:54 PM

How would one go about using a GOTO mount without using the capabilities of it (apart from tracking) to complete the Messier Program with star hopping?

#7 cliff mygatt

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 03:05 PM

Turn off the mount and use it manually, I would think! They all have clutches that can be loosened.

#8 chuck1155

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 03:09 PM

Thanks for the input guys.

I'm essentially a 'lone bone' backyard, urban observer (orange zone). Due to my work hours I don't belong to the local astronomy club and due to several other factors I don't go to star parties.

Regarding the GOTO, it looks like you are correct and I misread the requirements initially.
It now appears that of the approx 50 possible lists 'manual observing' is required for only about 25% of them.

I can see how going over the list with the goal of certification would provide greater motivation.

As far as using a GOTO mount to star hop, I think just using a TELRAD with your hand controller's direction buttons would work fine without using the GOTO feature.

... But I'm still confused as to the preferred way to proceed since I'm neither a member of the AL or an astronomy club.
Is it reasonable to complete several lists (and all required documentation) without being a member of either and then joining the AL to obtain the certifications?

Or is it preferred to obtain membership with AL and bypass the local club? But doesn't the local astro club have to check the sketches?

OR, join the local club without being an active participant but then having access to the AL benefits?

Hope that's all clear.

Any guidance here would be great.
chuck

#9 RAKing

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 03:52 PM

You may join the Astro League as a "Member at Large" and you do not have to join a club.

You can look at all the stars you want to without joining the AL or any club.

You MUST be a member of the AL to apply for certification.

Cheers,

Ron

#10 City Kid

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 05:23 PM

Is it reasonable to complete several lists (and all required documentation) without being a member of either and then joining the AL to obtain the certifications?

Or is it preferred to obtain membership with AL and bypass the local club? But doesn't the local astro club have to check the sketches?.


There's nothing wrong with completing the lists and then joining the Astronomical League to get your certificate and pin. Each observing program has a coordinator that you can send copies of your notes to in order to verify that you completed the list. Even though I am a member of a club I send copies of my notes to the coordinator of each program because the astronomy club I'm a member of doesn't have an awards coordinator.

#11 cliff mygatt

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 08:18 PM

It may be less expensive to join the local club if they are an AL club than member at large ($30). My club is $15 per year with AL membership included!

#12 Illinois

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 06:00 AM

You may join the Astro League as a "Member at Large" and you do not have to join a club.

You can look at all the stars you want to without joining the AL or any club.

You MUST be a member of the AL to apply for certification.

Cheers,

Ron


I am Member at Large and I work on Messier Objects. Not even half way yet and I wondered is there no time to be require all messier objects? I might need 2 or 3 more years to finish it. Always busy, Moon and so many cloudy nights! :(

#13 Doc Willie

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 06:46 AM

Turn off the mount and use it manually, I would think! They all have clutches that can be loosened.


Not quite. The Celestron NexStar mounts cannot be moved in azimuth with the power off. They can be moved by the hand controller without using the GoTo function.

#14 Doc Willie

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 06:47 AM

I am Member at Large and I work on Messier Objects. Not even half way yet and I wondered is there no time to be require all messier objects? I might need 2 or 3 more years to finish it. Always busy, Moon and so many cloudy nights! :(


There is no time limit.

#15 t.r.

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 08:04 AM

Just plug in your goto mount and don't enter any goto's...simply slew around the sky using the finder and a star map...easy. The advantage to using the mount is once you get to your object it will track it automatically and give you lots of time to concentrate on the objects details and allow you to familiarize yourself with it without constantly fussing with manual controls.
My goal is to complete the Master Observers Certificate...kind of a graduate degree that says you have mastered your field of study...of course with the universe, you're never done learning!!! :grin:

#16 RAKing

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 08:17 AM

I am Member at Large and I work on Messier Objects. Not even half way yet and I wondered is there no time to be require all messier objects? I might need 2 or 3 more years to finish it. Always busy, Moon and so many cloudy nights! :(


There is no time limit.


Agreed! It took me almost two years to finish the Carbon Star list. Not because they were hard, but because I had to take a year off for back surgery. :p

Astronomy is a Lifetime hobby for me. I also lost a year on my Regular Messier Certificate and now I have to wait until next spring to finish the final three objects for the Honorary certificate (and pin). The stars will still be there. :)

Cheers,

Ron

#17 blb

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 08:50 AM

How would one go about using a GOTO mount without using the capabilities of it (apart from tracking) to complete the Messier Program with star hopping?

That's easy. All you do is set it up and do an alignment like usual, so the scope tracts normanly, and then use the hand controler to slew to a star, or what ever your using as a starting point, and use your finder scope to star hop to your target. Once you have the scope and mount set up and working properly, just act as though you did not have go-to and don't use it.

#18 bunyon

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 08:52 AM

Unless you just have a political/personal problem with your local club, I'd recommend joining. I hardly ever go to meetings or club events. But I enjoy them a lot when I do. No one says you have to be a super active member. The cost is minimal and it will probably get you AL membership to boot. And someone to sign off on the certs.

To be fair, after getting the Messier cert, I haven't bothered with the rest. But to each his own. I find the lists most useful simply to have a guide and some targets.

#19 Illinois

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Posted 12 September 2013 - 06:06 AM

I am Member at Large and I work on Messier Objects. Not even half way yet and I wondered is there no time to be require all messier objects? I might need 2 or 3 more years to finish it. Always busy, Moon and so many cloudy nights! :(


There is no time limit.


Thank you! :waytogo:

#20 Michael Rapp

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Posted 12 September 2013 - 08:09 AM

There is a time limit on one of the clubs. (I learned this at my astronomy club meeting last Friday.)

It's the Sky Puppies club....you have to finish it before you turn 11 years of age.

:D

And for my next piece of trivia....there is exactly one club (observing, not outreach) that does not require a written record of observations. Which one is it? :)

#21 cliff mygatt

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Posted 12 September 2013 - 09:21 AM

Would that be Dark Sky advocate? Other than that one, they all require some sort of observing comments.

#22 Michael Rapp

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Posted 14 September 2013 - 11:23 AM

If we consider the Dark Sky Advocate an outreach award, the only one of the observing ones that does not require a submitted description of the object is the....

... Lunar Club. For this club, you only need to check off the items on a list and provide a day and time of observation. Even the Lunar II club requires a description of the object to be submitted, but the original Lunar club, does not.

#23 cliff mygatt

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Posted 14 September 2013 - 06:54 PM

I thought you meant lunar I but when looking at is I saw the requirements at the end of the page but they are optional.

#24 Raginar

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Posted 15 September 2013 - 11:30 AM

Just slew your mount around normally.. You don't have it hit the GOTO button to use it.

#25 Zamboni

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Posted 15 September 2013 - 04:31 PM

I have completed 2 and I'm working on about 6 more. I've noticed that since I've started doing so my observing habits have changed for the better. I actually wrote an article on the subject that will be appearing in Sky & Telescope sometime in early to mid 2014.

Also, in terms of time limits, there are some programs that have to be completed within a certain set window of time. The Sunspotter and H-alpha programs have sections that have to be completed over the course of two solar rotations.






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