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!

Door Peninsula Astronomical Society To Host NCRAL 2018

Door Peninsula Astronomical Society is moving ahead with great enthusiasm planning for NCRAL 2018. According to Gary Henkelmann, president of DPAS, “Our committee, headed up by Jacque Axland, has been meeting regularly and has selected the dates of May 4-5, 2018. The venue is the Lodge at Leathem Smith (Sturgeon Bay, WI). This is good program site; they have a banquet facility. (The Lodge is a popular wedding site that we locked-in early, and is only a mile from the DPAS astronomy campus).  Special NCRAL room rates are available for the block of rooms set aside for the event.

“We are celebrating the news this month that Newport State Park in northern Door County has achieved the long-awaited designation from the IDA as an International Dark Sky Site (articles in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Green Bay Press Gazette, Door County Advocate, and Peninsula Pulse), the first in Wisconsin and only 13th in the US.  The theme of our 2018 conference will highlight this accomplishment.

“Jacque and her committee have been meeting on conference calls with John Attewell (Rochester Astronomy Club, RAC) and will be incorporating some of the format and procedures employed be the RAC in putting on their wonderful convention, including on-line registration.

“Further information will be available as it materializes, and we will keep you posted. Our website can be referenced for updates, and our monthly newsletter, the Blue Moon Observer, edited by Dr. John Beck, can also be viewed on the website. We will also provide ongoing updates through the NCRAL newsletter as well.”

Gary Henkelmann, DPAS President

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.