The Astronomical League is one of the largest groups of amateur and professional astronomers in the world. Every year they hold a national convention in different sites around the US. This year they came to Las Cruces! The Astronomical Society of Las Cruces of which I am a member was responsible for organization and hosting.We spent the last year and a half preparing.
The Astronomical League probably could be thought of as the “science arm” of amateur astronomy. Much of the League’s activities center around public outreach and amateur research projects. This is an excerpt from the League mission statement:
“The 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.
Our 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”
As New Mexico is considered by many to be “America’s dark sky paradise” there was a very good turnout. We had over 150 registrants. I was chair of the Vendors Committee and we had several vendors including Celestron, Astronomical Society of the Pacific, International Dark Sky Association and New Mexico Skies Astronomy Village.
Several excellent speakers presented. My favorite was Dr Ifan Payne, the director of the Magdalena Ridge Observatory where they are building an optical interferometer.
Unfortunately we are in the midst of our Monsoon Season which is basically the month of July but we got hit pretty hard on the day of the much anticipated StarbQue at Leasburg State Park where we were to have our big star party.
Overall I would say ALCON 2015 was a big hit despite the weather and my guess is they will be back!
Websites to explore:
https://alcon2015.astroleague.org/ Astronomical League home
http://www.mro.nmt.edu/ New Mexico Tech’s optical interferometry observatory