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Fiftieth Annual Astronomical League Convention, 1997

Alcon 97 Logo

This year (1997) the Astronomical League held their fiftieth annual national convention (ALCon) at the Copper Mountain Resort, about 75 miles west of Denver, Colorado. The convention provides an opportunity for amateur astronomers from all over the country to exchange ideas and share adventures. At almost ten thousand feet elevation, Copper Mountain brought this year's attendees two miles closer to the stars. The convention had papers sessions, observing sessions, and a Project Astro workshop. The Chair for this year's convention was Jerry Sherlin, pictured at right.

ALCon ‘97 started with a reception on Tuesday night. Early arrivers got to sample tasty hors dorvs as old friends greeted each other. The resort is nestled in a valley and the view out the window of the restaurant toward the summit of Copper Mountain was spectacular.

Jerry Sherlin, Convention ChairWednesday had talks about the History of the Astronomical League, CHARA, the Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy, the construction of Hercules, a 41-inch reflector, a presentation on a comet research program initially created for Comet Kohutek, and Don Parker's "Mars: Still a Planet of Mystery".  That night there was an observing session at the Meyer-Womble Observatory high atop of Mount Evans.

Thursday had two tracks. One had the Astronomical Society of the Pacific's Project Astro, a program to bring astronomers and teachers together to enhance the students learning experience in the field of astronomy.  The other track included talks on the construction of a mobile observatory, observing debris trails left by comets, why the Astronomical League has a newsletter, and "Gravity and Space-Time".  The afternmoon had talks on imaging spectroscopy and light pollution.  Evening observing was preceded by Dr. Roger Clark of the U.S. Geological Survey speaking on "Visual Astronomy of ‘The National Parks of the Universe'".

Friday was the Mars Pathfinder landing while the talks included Dr. Ben Clark speaking on "Anticipated Martian Discoveries from Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Pathfinder", and Dr. John Brandt on "Recent Spacecraft Observations and Discoveries Related to Comet Hale-Bopp".  There was a conference call to the A.L.'s Southern Sky Star Party in Bolivia.  Afternoon had talks on Kitt Peak's public outreach program, and this year's National Young Astronomer Award winner Heather Cameron who talked about her multi-year solar observing project in "To the Sun and Back".  The MARS/FRASC business meeting was next.  The evening meal was a Wild West Barbecue where Ms. Jeannie Kuich, an author and story teller, told us about the "Soap Operas of the Sky".

Copper Mountain

Saturday had talks on timing occultations of Bright Stars with camcorders, variations on the rate of sporadic meteors, and "Jets, Outflows, and Proto- Planetary Discs". The afternoon was free, but the evening had the awards banquet and a by Leif Robinson, Editor-in-Chief, Sky and Telescope magazine reporting that "The Golden Age of Amateur Astronomy is Now".

With that exhortation, the Fiftieth Anniversary Convention of the Astronomical League came to an end. Friends said goodbye until next year, when the Astronomical League will reconvene in French Lick, Indiana for their Fifty-First Annual Convention.

Vendors Room at ALCon '97

The Vendors Display Room at ALCon '97.

Read about Wednesday's events at ALCon '97.

Read about Thursday's events at ALCon '97.

Read about Friday's events at ALCon '97.

Read about Saturday's events at ALCon '97.

Return to the Astronomical League Convention Page.

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