NCRAL 2023

Amateur Astronomy for Amateurs


Hosted by the
Twin City Amateur Astronomers, Inc.

NCRAL 2023 - Program

FRIDAY, MAY 5, 2023 (All events in second-floor mezzanine above main lobby)

4:00 PM  Check-in desk opens in the second-floor mezzanine; distribution of goody bags to all registrants upon check-in; solar observing (white light, Hα, Sunspotter, and sextant) in the parking lot weather permitting; set up club displays/flea market/swap meet/giveaway table in mezzanine.
7:00 PM  TCAA-sponsored Reception begins in mezzanine (hors d’ourves and two bar drink tickets per registrant for complimentary refreshments; see registration packet for tickets)
8:00 PM  Reception continues; check-in desk closes (sunset 7:55 PM)
9:00 PM  Reception concludes/optional parking lot observing session if sky clear (full moon)

SATURDAY, MAY 6, 2023 (All “a” sessions will be held in the LaSalle Room; all “b” sessions will be held in the Marquette Room; LaSalle Room otherwise)

8:00 AM Check-in desk opens in hallway in front of convention center doors or inside of ballroom; set out astronomical imaging contest pictures in main ballroom before 10:15 AM. LaSalle Room
8:30 AM

Session 1 - Welcome, NCRAL Chair Carl J. Wenning
Introduction to the TCAA, TCAA member TBA
Program Overview, Master of Ceremonies Dave Osenga, TCAA

LaSalle Room
9:00 AM Session 2 - A Total Eclipse of the Heart
Carl J. Wenning, TCAA

Carl will review two solar eclipses visible within the next year. In one such case, the solar umbra will sweep across the heart of America making for one of history's greatest population migrations.
LaSalle Room
9:45 AM Refreshment Break (distribution of door prizes; astrophotography contest begins; see registration packet for ballot - vote for 1 solar system image and 1 deep space image)
10:15 AM Session 3 - What We Learned from August 21, 2017: A Panel Discussion Panelists: Sunil Chebolu, Paul Pouliot, Venkat Chander, David Osenga, and Sharon MacDonald - Moderator: Tom Willmitch (all TCAA) What did we learn from our last experience with a total solar eclipse? What will we be doing next time; what will we avoid? LaSalle Room
11:00 AM Session 4a - Advances in Amateur Astronomy
Carl J. Wenning, TCAA

The modern age has brought with it some amazing assistive devices. We will look at how certain such devices have affected modern amateur astronomy for the better.
LaSalle Room
11:00 AM Session 4b - How to Complete an Astronomical League Observing Program
Lisa Wentzel, TCAA

Have you wanted to complete an Astronomical League observing program but weren't sure how to begin? Lisa will share tips and tricks to help you select, organize, and complete an observing program and, in the process, help you to take your visual observing to the next level.
Marquette Rm
11:45 PM Lunch Break (food set up in midsection of ballroom, check-in desk closes)
1:15 PM Session 5a - Creating Astronomical Diagrams
Jeffrey L. Hunt,

Whether you write a newspaper column or club newsletter or share astronomy news with neighbors and co-workers, charts and diagrams help your readers find the objects of interest in the night sky. This session describes how to produce diagrams to share with others.
LaSalle Room
1:15 PM Session 5b - Creating a Top-notch Club Newsletter
Sandullah Epsicokhan, TCAA and Astronomical League's 2022 Mabel Sterns Newsletter Editor Award Winner
Marquette Rm
2:00 PM Session 6a - Small Telescope Astronomy
Lisa Wentzel, TCAA, and Matthew L. Will, TCAA/SAS

Lisa and Matt will share their journeys with their respective organizations, American Association of Variable Star Observers and Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers, as well as programs for small telescopes offered by these organizations. They will then field questions about encouragement and involvement in small telescope astronomy with novice and intermediate amateur astronomers.
LaSalle Room
2:00 PM Session 6b - Meteoroids, Meteors, and Meteorites
Marc Tiritilli, Illinois Wesleyan University, TCAA

When a meteoroid survives a trip through the atmosphere as a meteor and hits the ground, it's called a meteorite. Learn more about these smallest denizens of the solar system and when and where to see them in the sky and on the Earth.
Marquette Rm
2:45 PM Refreshment Break (midsection: door prize give aways)
3:15 PM Session 7a - Build a Solar Funnel: A Make-and-Take Workshop
Dave Osenga and Tom Weiland, TCAA

Build a solar funnel great for observing sunspots or sharing the next solar eclipse. This is a free workshop with limited materials and limited participation. Observers welcome.
LaSalle Room
3:15 PM Session 7b - Revitalizing Your Astronomy Club: A Panel Discussion
Panelists: Darren Sawyer, TCAA; Al Sheidler, PAC; Sunil Chebolu
TCAA - Moderator: Dana Sawyer, TCAA

COVID-19 put the kibosh on amateur astronomy. In many ways social media has also had a remarkable effect. What can we do to revitalize our astronomy clubs? What have other clubs done what works?
Marquette Rm
4:00 PM Group Photo (Please make sure your face is visible when photograph is taken!) Marquette Rm
4:30 PM Session 8 - Annual Business Meeting, Chair's Report, Secretary- Treasurer's Report, Chair and Vice Chair elections, vote on NCRAL Messier Marathon Award, selection of next convention site, next convention presentation, door prizes Marquette Rm
5:30 PM Break Time (no activities or services, astrophotography balloting ends)
6:00 PM Informal Reception (cash bar) – central section in main ballroom LaSalle Room
6:30 PM Banquet (buffet style) LaSalle Room
7:30 PM Opening Remarks/Awards Presentation: NCRAL Chair comments; awards and mini-grant presentations, introduction of keynote speaker.
7:45 PM Session 9 - JWST: The Just Wonderful Space Telescope
Dr. John Martin, University of Illinois - Springfield

Launched on Christmas, 2021, the JWST is the first of the next generation of great space observatories planned by NASA. It is the largest optical or infrared space telescope ever launched. Its primary mission is to gather and analyze light from the first stars and galaxies in the very distant universe. We will review of what it has accomplished so far, with an eye toward its most visually stunning and inspiring images.
9:00 PM Conclusion (banquet/convention ends)