Open Cluster Program Coordinator:
The Open Cluster Observing Program now allows imaging as an option for completion for the award. Remote telescopes are permitted in thie Observing Program.
Open clusters are of tremendous importance to the science of astronomy, if not to astrophysics and cosmology generally. Star clusters serve as the "laboratories" of astronomy, with stars at nearly the same distance and all created at essentially the same time. Each cluster is a running experiment, where we can observe the effects of composition, age, and environment. We are hobbled by seeing only a snapshot in time of each cluster, but taken collectively we can understand their evolution and that of their included stars. These clusters are also important tracers of the Milky Way and other parent galaxies. They help us to understand their current structure and derive theories of the creation and evolution of galaxies. Just as importantly, starting from just the Hyades and the Pleiades, and then going to more distance clusters, open clusters serve to define the distance scale of the Milky Way, and from there all other galaxies and the entire universe.
Rules and Regulations
The Open Cluster Observing Program is open to any Astronomical League member in good standing, either through an affiliated club or through a Member-at-Large membership.
The nature of this program is not just observation or imaging of the selected open clusters, but the ability to classify them based on the Trumpler classification system and the ability to sketch or image selected clusters. This, overall, enhances the observing experience and allows even the most advanced observer to find detail in these clusters that is normally overlooked.
There are two levels within the Open Cluster Observing Program, the Basic and Advanced. One must complete the Advanced Program to receive the lapel pin. Only the Advanced Program will be considered as a valid choice for the Master Observer Award.
Basic Program, Visual:
1. Observe 100 of the 125 open clusters on the provided list.
4. All observing techniques may be used under the beginning program. Including Go-To, computer controlled, star hopping, digital setting circles, imaging, etc. Remote telescopes are permitting for this Observing Program.
Advanced Program, Visual
1. Observe all the 125 open clusters on the provided list.
2. Sketch 50 of the open clusters that you observed.
3. Classify all 125 of the observed open clusters under the Trumpler classification system.
4. All observing techniques may be used under the advanced program. Including Go-To telescopes, computer controlled, star hopping, digital setting circles, imaging, remote telescopes, etc.
Basic Program, Imaging:
1. Image 100 of the 125 open clusters on the provided list.
2. Classify all 100 of the imaged open clusters under the Trumpler classification system.
3. All observing techniques may be used under the advanced program. Including go-to, computer controlled, star hopping, digital setting circles, imaging, etc.Advanced Program, imaging, remote telescopes, etc.
Advance Program, Imaging:
1. Image 125 of the 125 open clusters on the provided list
2. Classify all 125 of the imaged open clusters under the Trumpler classification system.
3. All observing techniques may be used under the advanced program. Including Go-To, computer controlled, star hopping, digital setting circles, imaging, remote telescopes, etc.
Those completing the Basic Program who would like move up to the Advanced Program must observe or image an additional 25 open clusters that were not observed under the Basic Program. Furthermore, the observer must sketch an additional 25 open clusters that were not been previously sketched to qualify for the Basic Program.
The Trumpler Classification System: The observer is required to classify all of the open clusters observed in this program under the Trumpler classification system. Examples of some of the official Trumpler classifications are given on page 6. By classifying all of the open clusters, the observer will be developing a better understanding of their differences and appearances.
The Sketch (for visual observers): The observer is also required to make a sketch of any 25 (the basic program) or 50 (the advanced program) clusters they observe. The sketch does not have to be a work of art, but it does need to accurately depict the cluster. Since open clusters are made of stars, a drawing of small dots in a pattern of the cluster is all that is needed.
The Image (for imaging observers): An image for 100 (the basic program) or 125 ( the advanced program) must be included with your submission. Also include the imaging equipment used and any processing programs required.
Because the goal of this program is to have the observer see the differences in the clusters, it is highly recommended that the same telescope and similar power be used for all of the clusters. By doing this, it will ensure that the differences that are seen are cluster differences and not power differences.
Observations: For each object, the observer is required to record the location (Latitude and Longitude), date and time (local or UT), Seeing and Transparency, telescope aperture, power, and a brief description of the observed object, the Trumpler classification, and a sketch for any 25 (basic) or 50 (advanced) or, if imaging, an image of any 100 (basic) or 125 (advanced) and include the equipment and processing used for clusters from the list; a sample is on page 11. This format follows that of most Astronomical League observing programs. If the format that you use is more detailed, just make sure that the basic requirements are recorded like they are on page 11.
Submitting for Certification
Awards: Once you have met the above requirements, send in your observing logs, program completed (basic or advanced), name, mailing address, email, phone number, affiliation (club association or member-at-large), and to whom the certification should be sent, to the Coordinator of this Observing Program. Your Astronomical League Awards representative may send in your logs to the Program Coordinator as well. Make sure you send COPIES of your logs and not originals because the administrator of this program will not mail back your logs.
The Coordinator of this Observing Program will mail the observer a certificate, letter, and lapel pin (Advanced Level only) when a basic or advanced program has been completed, unless the observer requests that the award be mailed to the Awards Coordinator of their astronomy club for presentation at a club meeting.
The individuals completing the advanced program will receive special recognition on their certificate.
Furthermore, only the Advanced Program awards will receive the lapel pin and count towards the Master Observer Award. Keep this in mind when picking what to observe.
Open Cluster Program Coordinator:
P.O. Box 8607
Port Orchard, WA 98366
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