ALCon to honor young astronomy enthusiasts

Posted by Karri Ferron
on Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Astronomical League will honor three young astronomy enthusiasts at next week's annual convention, ALCon.
The world’s oldest federation of astronomical societies, the Astronomical League, will hold its annual meeting next week in Chicago, Illinois, not far from Astronomy magazine’s backyard in metropolitan Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The staff is excited to attend ALCon this year, with Senior Editor Michael E. Bakich giving two talks and Editor David J. Eicher speaking once and performing with the Astronomy Magazine Blues Band (with special guest new Managing Editor Ron Kovach). But it’ll be even more exciting to meet and spend time with some young honorees who will be there to receive Astronomical League awards.

First, the top two finishers of the league’s National Young Astronomers Award Program will be on hand next week after earning a free trip to the convention. Justin Tieman from Lee’s Summit, Missouri, won first place in this program for his “Alien Worlds” project. He hypothesized that an amateur astronomer could detect an exoplanet with only a backyard telescope by using differential photometry software, which his experiment verified. Meanwhile, Travis Le from Aica, Hawaii, earned second place after his work “Determining ‘Hot Spots’ Through Correlations of CMES and Solar Flares” resolved five “hot spots” on the Sun where possible coronal mass ejections could occur.

Benjamin Palmer, winner of the Astronomical League’s 2012 Jack Horkheimer/Smith Award for astronomy service, is an active member and Youth Committee Chair in the Astronomy Foundation. // Photo by David J. Eicher
Second, Benjamin Palmer of Queensbury, New York, (yes, the same Benjamin who won Astronomy magazine’s 2011 Youth Essay Contest) will be at ALCon to receive the 2012 Jack Horkheimer/Smith Award. Astronomy has been Benjamin’s passion since he was 9. He applied for and was accepted as an intern at Dudley Observatory as a teenager. While there, he participated in many outreach events, with his enthusiasm for astronomy carrying over into organizing star parties for local high schools and the 4-H club. Among Benjamin’s many activities, he is currently developing astronomy education software for classroom use and investigating the possibility of conducting virtual online star parties. He is a member of the Albany Area Amateur Astronomers, Inc., and the Youth Committee Chair of the Astronomy Foundation. Benjamin will speak at ALCon, so be sure to check that out!

Other award categories of the Jack Horkheimer Service and Journalism Awards include the Jack Horkheimer/Parker Award and the Jack Horkheimer/O’Meara Journalism Award. Samantha Carter of Fairview, Texas, receives the former for her service to her astronomy club, the Texas Astronomical Society, and to the Texas Star Party. She has also coordinated activities for her Girl Scout troop. Katelyn Skaer from Roswell, Georgia, a member of the Atlanta Astronomy Club, earned the journalism award for her essay “A Star is Born.” All top finishers in the Jack Horkheimer Award program receive $1,000 and an award plaque recognizing their special accomplishments.

It’s great to see so many young people involved in astronomy and earning recognition thanks to programs like those of the Astronomical League. Congrats to all the winners and the other entrants!

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