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The Astronomical League Newsletter

ISSN: 0034-2963

MSRAL 2004 Convention
MSRAL 2003 Convention
MSRAL 2002 Convention
Starry Nights Festival 2000
Starry Nights Festival 1998

REFLECTOR, the Quarterly Publication of the Astronomical League, is issued by the Astronomical League in February, May, August and November. The REFLECTOR is mailed directly to each individual member of its affiliate societies and to members-at-large as a benefit of League membership.

The American Association of Amateur Astronomers is a member society of the Astronomical League. As a result, AAAA members receive the REFLECTOR as a benefit of their membership.

Individual copies of the REFLECTOR are available at $1.50 each or $6.00 per year through the Executive Secretary, Jackie Beucher, 11305 King Street, Overland Park, KS 66210. M31@Sky.net

Vic and Jen Winter, Editors
149 NW OO Hwy
Warrensburg, MO. 64093

The REFLECTOR Web Site at ICStars

REFLECTOR Earns APEX-99 Award for Publication ExcellenceThe winners of the Eleventh Annual APEX-99 Award for Publication Excellence have been awarded.

The Astronomical League Newsletter, the REFLECTOR, has earned an Award of Publication Excellence in the category of One Person Produced Newsletters. Editor: Edward P. Flaspoehler, Jr.

APEX Awards are based on excellence in graphic design, editorial content, and the ability to achieve overall communication excellence. APEX Grand Awards honor the outstanding works in each main category, while the APEX Awards of Excellence recognize exceptional entries in each of the sub-categories.

With close to 4,900 entries, the competition was intense.

58 Grand Awards were presented to honor outstanding work in each of 11 major categories, with 1,146 Awards of Excellence recognizing exceptional entries in most of 93 sub-categories.

You can find out more about the APEX Award at their web site: http://www.apexawards.com

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About the Astronomical League

The Astronomical League is a rather large, but somewhat nebulous organization. I think there are currently over 275 clubs in the AL, with more than 20,000 individual members. It is completely run by volunteers who believe in both the science and hobby of amateur astronomy, and who are doing their best to keep things going.

The main benefit you and your club members will see from the Astronomical League is the REFLECTOR, the national newsletter, which is mailed out to all members of record four times a year. Please note the phrase, of record. This means that if your club does not keep the AL informed of who your members are, they will not receive the REFLECTOR. Keeping the address list up to date is the biggest problem the AL has. They depend on the local clubs to provide that information.

The AL is justly famous for its many observing programs. The most important, perhaps, are the Messier Club, and the Herschel club. But there are many observing programs that people can do, from beginners to advanced amateurs. Membership in the League through membership in your club entitles people to certification through the AL.

Yes, there is a national convention each year. In 2003, it will be in Nashville, TN. Last summer it was in Salt Lake City. The national convention moves around, partly so that people from various parts of the country can attend, and partly because the host society changes from year to year.

The AL has about 10 regions, I forget the exact number. Each region is encouraged to have a convention in its own area. For example, I live in Texas, and the Texas Star Party is also the regional convention of the Southwest Region each year. I think the Table Mountain Star Party often functions as the regional convention for the Northwest Region, of which Spokane is a member. Other regions have their own conventions and star parties. Whether or not there is a regional convention depends on the people in the region, and how much they want to be involved.

Working for the AL is an uphill battle. I know, because I was REFLECTOR  editor for 11 years. It seemed no matter what I did, people did not notice. I was always getting complaints from people who did not receive my magazine because their local club had not submitted their address, or forgot to send in a change of address. I spent reams of paper and buckets of ink promoting the AL and its activities, and somehow, there was always someone who did not get the message. And there were the perennial complaints about not getting enough service for the money.

Basically, the AL is like any other organization. You get out of it what you put into it. It is like your local astronomy club, just on a larger scale. If you do not find out what the club offers, go to meetings, and participate in activities, you may wonder what good it is. Same with the AL. You do not expect the club to do everything for you, including buy your telescope and do your observing. And the AL cannot either.

You can find out more about the AL on its various web sites:

http://www.astroleague.org/ is the main AL web site. Here, you can find out about the many benefits of AL membership, find a list of clubs, and learn about the League and its operating procedures.

http://www.astronomicalleague.com/  is the AL online store. Here you can buy copies of the various observing programs, as well as logo merchandise and astronomy related materials.

Another good place to find information about the various AL observing programs is on my website, The American Association of Amateur Astronomers. I have made PDF copies of all the AL's free observing programs, and made them available for download. Feel free to make as many copies of these PDF files as you wish, and distribute them to your own members as well as the general public. It is a good idea to have copies of the main observing programs at all club meetings for people to take.


Think of the AL and the programs it provides as an additional tool that you and your club can use to promote astronomy, both to your membership and the general public, rather than a commodity you buy and distribute. Learn how to use this tool properly, and it will become of great value to you.

I hope this helps some. The AL is a great organization, with a great purpose, but it takes involvement from all of us to make it work.

Ed Flaspoehler, President
American Association of Amateur Astronomers

BTW: Feel free to address your questions and concerns to the AL officers directly. You can find contact information in any recent copy of the REFLECTOR.

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