While member clubs run their own events, one NCRAL member club runs the annual NCRAL Convention. Clubs petition the NCRAL and volunteer to host the regional convention for the benefit of everyone. If an NCRAL member organization has an event which is open to all NCRAL members, and they would like to have it listed, you can send your request to the webmaster.

This year, the national convention of the Astronomical League (ALCON) will be held within our borders, as well! See the descriptions of the two separate events below, in addition to a listing of regional star parties happening in 2018. Unique opportunities for observing and fellowship abound — take advantage of all our member clubs have to offer!

NCRAL 2018: Dark Skies for Bright Stars

May 4-5, 2018 in Sturgeon Bay, WI

Following this theme, speakers are scheduled, the venue set, and a very interesting NCRAL 2018 is expected. Registration will open January 1, 2018.  Located in Door County Wisconsin, which offers dark sky and beautiful natural surroundings, Door Peninsula Astronomical Society (DPAS) will host the meeting at the Lodge at Leathem Smith in Sturgeon Bay, WI.  We will be celebrating the recent designation of nearby Newport State Park as an International Dark Sky Site, the first in Wisconsin and only the 13th in the entire United States.  Anyone wishing to visit the site can bring viewing equipment or visit this beautiful park the day before or after the meeting.

On Friday evening members of DPAS will open our observatory and Astronomy Center for viewing and tours of the facilities.  During the day Saturday we will be having an astronomy photo contest and astronomy related poetry contest.  Bring any number of your own photos printed any size and original poems for voting by all participants.

The list of speakers follows and the subjects will prove to be on very timely topics.

Kevin Poe is the Green Energy Project Manager at the National Park Service at Bryce Canyon, Utah.  He is a second generation Park Ranger and owner of Dark Ranger Telescope Tours.  Kevin calls himself the Dark Ranger to make environmental advocacy cool and heroic, and describes himself as a Planet Hugger.  Teaching awareness of light pollution and understanding of the universe to people of all ages through lectures and stories is his goal.

Kate Meredith is the Education Director at the University of Chicago Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, WI.  She is currently working on a program for students with low vision and blindness to develop image processing software.  The three year project, Innovators Developing Accessible Tools for Astronomy (IDATA)  is funded by the National Science Foundation.  She will explore what else we can do with invisible data that will allow everyone access to the same quality and quantity of information.

Audrey Fischer works through her organization, One Star at a Time to create star parks in Chicago and around the world.  Star parks are designated areas there the lights are off or directed downward.  As a Chicago native, she knows that it isn’t a perfect place for stargazing, but she is working to return stars back into all cities.  Audrey stated during an interview for the Chicago Tribune “Starlight belongs to each and every person in the world.  A starry night gives people a reason to look up and to realize that others from around the globe share the same sky.  Starlight is the path to closer understanding of our universe, each other and ourselves – and maybe it’s even a path toward peace”.

Beth Bartoli is the Naturalist at Newport State Park in Door County, our recently designated Dark Sky Site.  The designation was awarded after years of work by her, the staff of the park and our Door Peninsula Astronomical Society.  She helps conduct astronomy programs at the park and states “We never tire of seeing that ‘aha’ moment on the upturned faces of our visitors as they gaze toward the heavens”.  The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Newport State Park are committed to protect our dark sky through lighting projects, community education and outreach.

Tyler Linder is a professional astronomer supported by NASA’s Near Earth Object Observations (NEOO) research grants to track and study the Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA) population.  His presentation will focus on the information that can be obtained by asteroid characterization, both through light curve analysis as well as visible and near-infrared spectroscopy.  The collaboration between amateur and professional astronomers uses middle and high school students as well as undergraduate students.

A block of rooms with special rates has been set aside.  Contact information is on the registration form.  Payment for the meeting registration can be made by check to DPAS or through PayPal on our website, after the first of the year.  Questions can be directed to

Members of DPAS cordially invite you and your guests to join us here in beautiful Door County, Wisconsin for an informative and relaxing weekend with fellow amateur astronomers.

Minnesota Astronomical Society To Host ALCON 2018

The Minnesota Astronomical Society (MAS) will be hosting the Astronomical League National Convention in 2018. The dates of ALCON 2018 are July 11-14. The convention will be held at the Hilton Minneapolis/St Paul Airport Mall of America near I-494 and 34th Avenue South. MAS will have field trips to Eagle Lake Observatory and other attractions in the Twin Cities, such as the Bell Museum, the Science Museum of Minnesota, and the Mall of America. They will host a “star-b-q” at Eagle Lake Observatory (ELO) in Baylor Regional Park. The theme of the convention will be Outreach.

This will be a wonderful opportunity to show the world how we do astronomy in the Upper Midwest. MAS also will showcase their world-class facility at ELO. They might have a couple of talks at the observatory and nightly observing. Several planets will be visible, including Jupiter and Saturn. Mars will be within a couple of weeks of its very favorable opposition.

Along with several speakers from the five-state area, MAS will bring in a few nationally-known speakers. They have already secured Bob Berman, author of the “Strange Universe” column in Astronomy magazine; and outreach advocate Dr. Pamela Gay, director of CosmoQuest, director of technology and citizen science at the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, and host of the podcast “Astronomy Cast.” We hope to get one or two other national speakers.

Wisconsin Observer’s Weekend 2018

The annual Wisconsin Observer’s Weekend (WOW) will be held on July 11-14 at Hartman Creek State Park near Waupaca, WI. Sponsored by NCRAL member society NEWSTAR, this event has a maximum registration of 150 so if you’re thinking of going get your form in sooner than later! Details and registration forms can be found on the club website.

Northwoods Starfest 2018

The annual Northwoods Starfest will occur on August 17-19 at Hobbs Observatory in Fall Creek, WI. See the Chippewa Valley Astronomical Society website for details.

Iowa Star Party 2018

The Iowa Star Party will be held August 30 through September 3 at the Whiterock Resort in Coon Rapids, IA. Visit their website for more information.


Northern Nights Star Fest 2018

Northern Nights Star Fest in Minnesota will be held on September 5-9 at the Long Lake Conservation Center near McGregor, Minnesota. Visit their website for more information.

Illinois Dark Skies Star Party 2018

The Sangamon Astronomical Society (Springfield, IL) will host the Illinois Dark Skies Star Party October 4-6. The event will be held at the Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish & Wildlife Area in west central Illinois. Detailed information and registration is available at their website.