Atlanta Astronomy Club
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The Atlanta Astronomy Club (AAC) is one of the largest organizations of beginner and amateur astronomers in the South Eastern United States. The club seeks to provide enjoyment and education to the public through amateur astronomy.
Dr. William Calder, who came to Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia from the Harvard College Observatory, founded the Atlanta Astronomy Club in 1947 to promote the collaboration of professional and amateur astronomers and to provide a venue for non-professionals to share their interests.
The AAC incorporated in 1963 as a nonprofit organization. It is educational, literary and scientific in nature and is dedicated especially to promoting the public knowledge of and interest in astronomy.
Membership in the AAC is open to anyone with a general interest in astronomy. The ACC is for casual skywatchers who can name the constellations as well as those who have telescopes and binoculars and know the celestial objects scientific classifications and numbers. The AAC welcomes all with an interest in astronomy, regardless of race, color, creed, age or sexual orientation.
Notable alumni and current membership achievements and contributions to the community and scientific body of knowledge are established. In 1994, AAC members Jerry Armstrong and Tim Puckett discovered a supernova in the Whirlpool Galaxy (Messier object M51). Another Club member, Alex Langoussis, assisted Tim Puckett in his supernovae searches and now has over a dozen to his credit. Official recognition by the IAU brought worldwide attention to this pair of Georgia amateur astronomers. They were featured on CNN, as well as other news media around the globe.
Michael A Covington is an AAC member and is the author of The Practical Amateur Astronomy Series published by Cambridge University Press. He has written the books Digital SLR Astrophotography, How to Use a Computerized Telescope, Celestial Objects for Modern Telescopes, Astrophotography for the Amateur, and The Cambridge Eclipse Photography Guide with Jay M. Pasachoff as well as several other books for Barron's Educational Series. Covington is a computational linguist during the day and has been on the faculty of University of Georgia since 1984.
Current AAC Board member Richard Jakiel has written over 70 articles that have appeared in Astronomy Magazine and Sky and Telescope as well as an astronomy textbook for German Universities and is a frequent lecturer and presenter to ALPO, Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers.
The AAC is also part of the NASA Night Sky Network and offers awards and certificates upon completion of viewing certain objects in the sky, as well as The Keith J. Burns Award, in honor of "Kosmik Kow" Burns, former AAC president and active amateur astronomer who died in November 2010. The Keith J. Burns Award is given to the person who best demonstrates the joy of discovery, commitment to education and sharing with the amateur astronomy community that Keith Burns was the paragon of to the local community.
Monthly meetings are held at 8pm on the 3rd Friday. Club business is briefly discussed, followed by amateur and professional speakers from all over the country.
Also scheduled is a Dark Sky Observing (DSO) event every new moon weekend, so that observers can have an opportunity to pursue their own observing agendas.
Sessions for beginners and the public are also scheduled through the year.
The AAC hosts an annual star party, The Peach State Star Gaze (known fondly as The PSSG) at the nearby Deerlick Astronomy Village home of the darkest skies in the southeast.
In the spring the club holds a no frills "star party" called the Zombie Party usually to coincide with the yearly Messier marathon. This marathon star gaze is very popular.
Georgia Astronomy in State parks (GASP) events are held 4 to 5 times a year in State parks around Georgia. The Club gives a short presentation to the public and sets up scopes to show the campers the night sky.
Each year The Atlanta Astronomy Club sets up scopes and presentations for schools, museums, state parks, the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, and many others free of charge. As part of their outreach they also have sidewalk astronomy session in public areas to share their knowledge and the sky with others.
The club publishes a monthly newsletter called the Focal Point.
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