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Urban Club - observe 100 objects in heavily light-polluted areas. al-urban.pdf 
(726 KB)


Rules and Regulations
List of Objects
Tips for Urban Observing

Rules and Regulations

By John Wagoner
American Association of Amateur Astronomers

Assisted By:

John A. Barra - Peoria Astronomical Society
Ken Boquist - Quad-Cities Astronomical Society
Bill Geertsen - Harford County Astronomical Society
David Hasenauer - Texas Astronomical Society of Dallas
Lee Maisler - Member-At-Large
Chris Randall - Fort Bend Astronomy Club
Becky Schultz - Fort Bend Astronomy Club
Jim Tomney - Baltimore Astronomical Society
Roberto Torres - Southern Cross Astronomical Society


Welcome to the Astronomical League's new Urban Club. The purpose of the Urban Club is to bring amateur astronomy back to the cities, back to those areas that are affected by heavy light pollution. Amateur astronomy used to be called "backyard astronomy". This was in the days when light polluntion was not a problem, and you could pursue your hobby from the comfort of your backyard. But as cities grew, so did light pollution, and the amateur astronomer was forced to drive further and further out into the country to escape that light pollution. It is not uncommon today for a city dweller to drive 100 miles to enjoy his hobby. But many people do not have the time or the resources to drive great distances to achieve dark skies. That is the reason for the creation of this club, to allow those who want to enjoy the wonders of the heavens in the comfort of their own neighborhoods to do so, and to maximize the observing experience despite the presence of heavy light pollution.

Our crack team of observers observed the objects on this list from the East Coast to Middle America to the West Coast, and from major metropolitan areas like Miami, Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, and Los Angeles. Limiting magnitudes went from a high of "4" down to "2" to a "GEEZ" as Becky Schultz commented on one particularly bad evening. Instruments used ranged from a six inch reflector to a ten inch SCT. So as you can see, there is a world of objects out there that can be enjoyed under even poor skies, and it only takes a small to medium sized telescope to enjoy them. We sincerely hope that this club encourages you to continue your enjoyment of this wonderful hobby of ours.

Rules and Regulations

To qualify for the A.L.'s Urban Club Certificate, you need only be a member of the Astronomical League, either through an affiliated club or as a Member-at-Large, and observe the 100 objects on the Urban Club list in light polluted skies. Light polluted skies are defined as any area where you cannot see the Milky Way with the un-aided eye. You may observe the objects with the naked eye, binoculars or telescope, and any size telescope may be used. However, telescopes from six to ten inches in aperture are recommended since a larger aperture helps pull out fainter objects in a non-contrasty sky. Previous observations of these objects may be used toward this club as long as they were done in light polluted skies. Previous observations from dark sky sites may not be used. All observations made in achieving the certificate for the Urban Club may be used toward the certificates of other A.L. observing programs. To record your observations, you may use log sheets similar to those found in the back of the Astronomical League's manual Observe: A Guide to the Messier Objects.You can order the Observe manual through Marion Bachtell, Astronomical League Sales, P.O. Box 572, West Burlington, Ia. 52655-9998. The price is $6.00, including postage. If you use your own log sheets, they should include: object, date, time, power, seeing, type of instrument, and observing notes.

If you need to become a member of the Astronomical League as a Member-at-Large, contact Linda Sensenig, M.A.L. Chairperson, 345 Douglass St., Wyomissing, Pa. 19610, (215) 375-9062.

To receive your Urban Club Certificate and pin, simply send your observations along with your name, address, phone number, and club affiliation either to your club's Award's Co-ordinator or John Wagoner, A.L. Binocular Co-ordinator, 1409 Sequoia Dr., Plano, Tx. 75023, (972) 422-3301, stargate@gte.net. Upon verification, your certificate will be forwarded either to you or your club's Award's Co-ordinator, whomever you choose.

The List

There are actually two lists, one for deep sky objects, and another for double and variable stars. All objects are listed in Right Ascension order so that you can view them as they rise in the East and set in the West. Information provided on each deep sky object includes: Catalog Number, Right Ascension, Declination, Magnitude, Messier Designation (if any), Type of Object, Size, Constellation, and what chart they are located on in both the "Uranometria" and Tirion's "Sky Atlas 2000". Information provided on the double and variable stars includes: Object, Right Ascension, Declination, and Magnitude and Separation of the components. I hope you enjoy this list of objects to observe, and that it helps increase your satisfaction in observing from a light polluted area. I will look forward to your sharing your observations with me. Until then, good luck, clear skies, and good observing.


I and the Astronomical League wish to gratefully acknowledge Philip S. Harrington of the Westport Astronomical Society for his suggestion and support in creating this program.
Plano, TX. - November 9, 1997

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You MUST be a member of the Astronomical League, either through membership in an affiliated astronomical society or as a Member-at-Large, to receive certification for the AL Urban Club.

As a member of the AAAA, not only are you eligible to earn this observing award, but you will also get your own subscription to the Astronomical League's newsletter, the REFLECTOR, as well as our own quarterly newsletter, The American Astronomer.

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