The North Central Region of the Astronomical League (NCRAL) was established on August 30, 1947. Today it consists of 36 associations scattered across the upper Midwest. States included in the Region are Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Upper Peninsula of Michigan, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Members-at-large of the Astronomical League are also part of the NCRAL membership.
The goals of NCRAL are numerous, but the most essential are the promotion of amateur astronomy and fellowship among its members. The Region does so through various means, but the most important are the annual spring convention, the quarterly Northern Lights newsletter, and star parties.
- Annual conventions are hosted by one of our member associations each spring. These gatherings are as varied as the hosts but generally consist of invited speakers and contributed talks, tours of astronomical facilities and museums, star parties, imaging contests, club displays, show-and-tell, formal discussions, and include plenty of time for camaraderie. Business meetings set the direction of the Region for the following year. A closing banquet is the setting for a keynote speaker and the venue at which the NCRAL Region Award is presented to one or more members who have provided distinguished service to amateur astronomy within the North Central region. The NCRAL Newsletter Editor Award and NCRAL Mini-Grants are also announced at this event.
- The Northern Lights newsletter is compiled by the Region Chair, who currently serves as Editor-in-Chief. The newsletter is distributed electronically in portable document format (PDF) to each member association’s President, ALCor, and newsletter editor for dissemination to their association’s membership. Executive Council members and individual association members contribute to the content of this full-color publication. The newsletter is growing in both size and scope and typically runs from 20-30 pages. Back issues of the newsletter can be found elsewhere on this website.
- There are typically half a dozen star parties taking place within the Region each year. Many, but not all, are hosted by Region-affiliated clubs. To learn more about the dates, times, and locations of these events, be sure to look for announcements in the Region’s newsletter.
NCRAL is governed by an Executive Council consisting of the Region’s three elected officials (Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary-Treasurer) in concert with the Representative to the AL Council. The NCRAL Council guides the Region in concert with the Executive Council. The NCRAL Council consists of association presidents and one Representative of all the AL-affiliated astronomy clubs in a six-state region. The governing Bylaws can be found on this website.
As Chair of the Region, I am always delighted to receive questions and comments. Don’t hesitate to contact me should this be the case.
Carl J. Wenning
Chair (2017-2021), North Central Region of the Astronomical League
Twin City Amateur Astronomers, Inc.Bloomington-Normal, Illinois
Cell: (309) 830-4085