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 2019: Astronomical Voyages Of Discovery: Past, Present & Future

May 3-4, 2019 in Moline, IL

Full details to follow, but you can download the NCRAL 2019 convention announcement flyer.

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.