Peltier Awards


The heart of amateur astronomy is observing. We can read all we want about astronomical phenomena, but the real joy in astronomy is going out under the night sky and observing the objects about which we have read. But while most of us are casual observers of the sky, looking at the same few objects over and over, a few amateur astronomers develop their observing skills to the ultimate degree. They then use these skills to make careful observations of the sky and record them for scientific analysis. Peltier Award Plaque
Whether the observation is done with a photometer, CCD, spectroscope, or just the human eye, the ability to find an object and record scientifically useful detail is not a common trait. To recognize the amateur astronomer who is not only able to do this, but has contributed their observations to an ongoing observing program, the Astronomical League presents the Leslie C. Peltier Award. The Peltier Award was created in 1980 and the first was awarded in 1981.

Peltier Award PlaqueThe award is named after Leslie C. Peltier, the Delphos, Ohio, amateur astronomer who Harlow Shapley, one of the League's founders, referred to as "the world's greatest nonprofessional astronomer". Born January 2, 1900, he discovered twelve new comets and four novae. But his real contribution was the over 132,000 variable star observations he made in his sixty-two year observing career. He also wrote many articles on astronomy and penned four books. To easy his observing, he built an enclosed "merry-go-round" observatory. He died in 1980.
It is in his memory, and to celebrate his life-long love of the heavens, that the Astronomical League presents the Leslie C. Peltier Award.


The League shall present an annual Leslie C. Peltier Award to an amateur astronomer who contributed to astronomy observations of lasting significance.
Procedure for Nomination.
1. A three (3) person Peltier Award Committee shall be established, which shall execute the nomination and selection process, and shall be responsible for the design and sponsorship of the representative plaque.
2. Nominations shall be sent to the committee chair, who will forward the name(s) to the committee members for their selection by simple majority vote. The committee chair shall maintain a permanent list of nominees not selected, for consideration in future years.
3. Dates for the implementation of this process shall be set by the committee. The award shall be presented at the banquet of the annual convention or, if none is held, at the largest gathering of League members at the convention.

Rodney Howe, 2017 L.C. Peltier Award Recipient

Rodney Howe has a Master’s Degree in Remote Sensing / Geographical Information Systems (GIS), Colorado State University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, also from Colorado State University. His occupational work has been with Landsat and AVHRR satellite data classifying agriculture crop land images for the US Department of Agriculture. Responsibilities included experience in computer science, and Geographic Information Systems with the knowledge and skills for photometry and data analysis of satellite image classification. Knowledge from this type work has given him some experience with processing images of dense globular clusters, using images collected by AAVSO net of telescopes. He has been a member of AAVSO since 1999, when he began collecting Very Low Frequency radio data on Gamma Ray Bursts and Solar Ionosphere Disturbances (SID).

2016 Peltier Award: Dr. Mike Reynolds

​Dr. Mike Reynolds has forty years in astronomy and space sciences in the gamut of a high school and university instructor, planetarium and museum director, researcher, and college administrator. He has received numerous recognition for his work, including the 1986 Florida State Teacher of the Year, NASA Teacher-in-Space National Finalist, and the G. Bruce Blair Medal. Reynolds has written a number of astronomy books and articles, including service as an Astronomy magazine contributing editor. He has led numerous astronomical expeditions worldwide, and has also served as an invited speaker internationally at a variety of events, from book signings to lectures on meteorites (his area of research), the science of science fiction, and general astronomy. He was an invited TED speaker, talking about The Universe is our Classroom. Reynolds has appeared on several Discovery Channel and National Geographic programs, such as Auction Kings.

2015 Peltier Award: Arlo U. Landolt

The sky first attracted Arlo’s attention as a farm boy living on the prairies of southern Illinois. When it was too hot to sleep in the farmhouse, he would sleep on the hay frame wagon in the barnyard. Young Arlo would look up and watch the stars move across the sky as the night progressed. The different patterns, brightnesses and colors were a wondering spectacle!

This led to a professional life both as a university professor and as an observational astronomer specializing in astronomical photometry. The detectors have changed over time, from photographic photometry in the early days to photoelectric photometry to modern CCD photometry. Observing and being able to watch the sky through the open slit always has been a source of wonderment and joy. The smell of the night air, following the stars as they wended their way across the sky through the night and throughout the year has been shrouded in a kind of mysteriousness. This love of something defines the word “amateur”.

2014 Leslie C. Peltier Award Goes To Jim Fox

Having been “bitten by the bug” as a young boy in the 1950s, Jim began his amateur astronomy “career” as a member of a “Junior Moon-Watch Team,” eagerly awaiting the launch of the first artificial Earth satellites during the International Geophysical Year toward the end of that decade. But, unlike the young man in Walt Whitman’s famous poem, he never tired of the “Learn’d Astronomer” and quickly grew tired of simply gazing up at the beauty of the stars. He wanted to “Do something to contribute.”



2012 Peltier Award: Mike Simonsen

The Astronomical League held its annual meeting, ALCon 2012 along with the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers in Lincolnshire, Illinois, July 4th through July 7th.

The annual awards banquet was held the evening of July 7, 2012. This year’s recipient of the Leslie C. Peltier Award is Mike Simonsen. Mike is one of the world’s leading variable star observers and advocates. Since 1998 he has submitted over 80,000 variable star observations to the AAVSO International Database.

Mike is currently employed by the AAVSO as Membership Director and Development Officer.

Among the many hats Mike wears, he is in charge of all variable star chart production for the AAVSO, as well as coordinator of the AAVSO Mentor Program, Speakers Bureau, and Writers Bureau. Mike is also the section leader of both the AAVSO Cataclysmic Variable Section (CVnet) and Long Period Variable (LPV) Section.
His current area of research is Z Cam stars, a type of dwarf novae, and he is the author or co-author of more than twenty peer- reviewed papers on cataclysmic variables.

2011 Leslie Peltier Award:Arne Hendon

Arne Henden was born in Huron, South Dakota, but that would not be the only place he called home as a child. The son of a U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Civil Engineer, Arne received the chance as a child to travel the United States and world with his father, mother, and two sisters. Arne's father, Ward, built missile silos and roads in South Dakota, dams on Lake Powell in Arizona and Lake Monroe in Indiana, as well as hospitals and schools in Iran prior to retiring as a Public Works Engineer at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. Along the way, Arne's interest in astronomy would first be piqued by a chance to view Saturn through the historic 24" Clark refractor at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. His mother, Esther, encouraged his interest in astronomy, giving him his first telescope as a
Christmas present. Later, his older sister's boyfriend brought Arne copies of Sky & Telescope nurturing his interest even further. He was particularly intrigued by comets, taking many 35mm pictures and writing software for IBM 360 computers to predict their motion. In addition, he had an interest in Pluto, doubtlessly because he had met Clyde Tombaugh several times while living in Las Cruces, NM.

This early interest in astronomy transformed itself into an astronomical education and career. Arne

2010 Leslie Peltier Award: Derald D. Nye

Derald D. Nye was born in Oakley, Kansas in 1935. He graduated from Oakley Consolidated High School in 1953. Following graduation, he served 2 years in the United States’ Army from 1955 – 1957.

He graduated from Kansas State University in 1961 with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. After graduation, he was employed by International Business Machines (IBM) at locations on the East Coast; Boulder, Colorado; and Tucson, Arizona until his retirement in August, 1991.

His interest in astronomy began while he was in high school, but he didn’t grind his first mirror, an eight inch, until 1964 while working at Cape Kennedy on the Saturn 1B and Saturn V instrument units. He attended his first Astronomical League national meeting in 1966 in Miami, Florida.