2009 Horkheimer/Smith First Place Award –Ryan Loomis

2009 Horkheimer/Smith First Place Award –Ryan Loomis

Ryan Loomis, 2009 Horkheimer/Smith First Place Award WinnerThe top finisher in the Horkheimer/Smith competition is Ryan Loomis from Waynesboro, Virginia. He and his family are members of the Shenandoah Valley Stargazers astronomy club. He has earned three astronomy certificates from the League since becoming a club member and is home-schooled. Ryan further extended his involvement with astronomy when he decided to take astronomy into the local elementary schools. He began working with his father to develop an astronomy program called “Fun with Astronomy.” This has been a successful program, and is now being used in many schools in the area. Ryan and his father have presented the program to over 1600 children at many different schools. “Fun with Astronomy” has also been extended to other groups, such as the Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, AARP and various church groups. Ryan also serves as a junior member of the Board of Directors of the Shenandoah Valley Stargazers. He persuaded his club to buy a Dobsonian telescope and donate it to the Boys Scouts of America to replace their old telescope. The telescope is used at Camp Shenandoah Boy Scout Camp, where Ryan, an Eagle Scout, helps other scouts with their quest to earn their merit badges. Last summer, Ryan helped organize a successful “learn to use your telescope” program for the club’s open house event. This event not only helped members learn more about their telescopes during the day, but featured practical experiences using their telescopes during an observing session that night.


2009 Horkheimer/Parker Award First Place Award  – Alicia Tristan

Alicia Tristan - 2009 Horkheimer/Parker AwardAlicia Tristan is the top finisher for the 2009 Horkheimer/Parker Award. Alicia is a home-schooled senior and lives in Sugar Land, Texas. She is a member of the Fort Bend Astronomy Club. She actively participates in the club’s public outreach program, “Astronomy on Wheels.” This program provides free star parties for schools and community groups. Alicia supports the club by serving as its secretary. In addition, she has been an active volunteer at the Houston Museum of Natural Science/George Observatory since 2004, while working on a number of League observing programs and sharing her strong knowledge of astronomy with the public. Although most of her astronomy education is self taught, she started studying astronomy at age 6. To quote Barbara Wilson, director of the George Observatory, “Her vast repertoire of star names and their history is one of the most complete I have ever encountered.” Her other interests include photography, geology, meteorology and biology. Alicia has compiled a comprehensive list of carbon stars magnitude 8.5 to 14 visible from North America. Recently, Alicia developed two observing programs for her astronomy club: “Open Clusters” and “Carbon Stars.” She is currently completing a proposal for a new Carbon Star Observing Program for consideration by the League. She has worked in the TORRE (Texas Observatory for Remote Research and Education) research assistant fellowship program offered by Houston Community College, collaborating with a team of professors and students. This is a partnership project with Rice University, the University of Texas and McDonald Observatory.


2009 Horkheimer/D’Aurio Award–First Place Award

Jordan Bramble, a senior at Kempsville High School in Virginia Beach, Virginia, is the top finisher for the 2009 Horkheimer/D’Aurio Award. He is also the second- place finisher in the 2009 League’s National Young Astronomer Award program.Since joining the Back Bay Amateur Astronomers, he has become one of the club’s most active members, whether being a fixture at club outreach events or energizing the club’s e-group with his frequent postings. Jordan’s dedication to the club’s outreach was evident at last summer’s “Boardwalk Astronomy” event at the Virginia Beach resort strip, where he handled the hundreds of people who passed by his telescope with enthusiasm, remarkable knowledge of astronomy, and tireless energy. Jordan was instrumental in organizing a student astronomy club at his high school. He also volunteers at a local museum, Nauticus and infuses the nautical theme there with his astronomical interest, giving talks on the importance of Polaris to navigation. Jordan is an active participant in the club’s collaborative research efforts with the Rapid Response Robotic Telescope at the Fan Mountain Observatory near Charlottesville, Virginia. He was invited to address the first conference of this group at Norfolk State University. His presentation focused on how to attract high school-age students to astronomy and how best to employ the observatory in that effort. In the fall, Jordan will attend George Mason University, where he will study astronomy and physics. His goal is to seek a career in astrophysics. Also, we would like to extend our special thanks to Celestron, Inc. for its support of the Horkheimer Service Award for the past several years.


2009 Horkheimer / O'Meara Youth Journalism Award

The top finisher for the 2009 Horkheimer/ O’Meara Youth Journalism Award is David C. Lofts. He is an eighth grader at Covenant Christian Academy in Huntsville, Alabama.  David will receive a $1,000 cash prize and plaque for his firstplace finish.

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