Solar System Observing Program

Solar System Observing Program Coordinator:

Bryan Tobias
3012 Morning Trail
San Antonio, TX 78247
(210) 875-6323

Solar System Observers Program Logo



Welcome to the Astronomical League's Solar System Observers Program. The S.S.O.P. is a list of selected projects designed to introduce you to the pleasures of planetary observing. Observing skills come only with experience. An eye trained by observing will see more, regardless of what type of optical aid is used. Good observing skills reinforce the desire to observe. Observing trains the eye to see. It is a cycle that has to be willed to happen. Given the time and effort it WILL happen. Once it happens, astronomy will become a very joyful lifelong experience.

In these days of increasing light pollution, the wonders of our own solar system may well take on an increased importance among sky watchers. Dark skies and moonless nights are not a priority for any of the listed projects. If you are intrigued by the enclosed projects, I would refer you to the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers. ALPO members regularly observe solar system objects and have contributed significantly to our understanding of this corner of the universe. For more information you may contact:

ALPO Membership Sec./Treas.,
P.O. Box 13456
Springfield, IL 62791-3456.

Whether you decide to go on to serious data collection or simply observe for your own edification - enjoy yourself. The sky is there for all. It is a great equalizer. Beneath its huge expanse we are all reduced to nearly infinitesimal size, but in trying to understand it we grow.


Rules and Regulations

To qualify for the A.L.'s Solar System Observers Program Certificate and pin, you need only be a member of the Astronomical League, either through an affiliated club or as a Member-at-Large, and complete twenty-five of the suggested projects. Record your observations on copies of the included log, or equivalent. Some observations may require sketches, but don't panic; artistic prowess is not required. Make as many copies of the log sheet as you will need. Fill in information appropriate to that project.

Be sure to include the object name, Date and Time of the observation (local or UT), Latitude and Longitude, Seeing and Transparency, and a description of the object.

At the end of the projects, you will find a glossary of terms.

If you need to become a member of the Astronomical League as a Member-at-Large, contact the Executive Secretary.

To receive your Solar System Observers Program Certificate and award pin, simply send a scanned COPY in PDF form of your logs along with your name, mailing address, email, phone number, and club affiliation to the Solar System Observing Program Coordinator.  If you prefer to send them via regular USPS mail, send complete COPIES of your logs (NOT STAPLED) and personal information to the Solar System Observing Program Coordinator.

A new Binocular Solar System Observing Certificate has been created to allow binocular-based observers to experience the wonders of the Solar system.  To receive this certificate you must certify that you have observed 20 of those requirements indicated by a *B* on the observing list using just your eyes or a pair of binoculars.  These may be included as requirements to meet the standard requirements to receive the certificate and pin for the Solar System Observing Program.

Submitting for Certification

To receive your certification, please send competed logs to the Solar System Observing Program Coordinator or have them reviewed and approved by an officer of your astronomy club.  Be sure to indicate whether you have done the Binocular Requirements using just your eyes or a pair of binoculars..

Solar System Observing Program Coordinator:

Bryan Tobias
3012 Morning Trail
San Antonio, TX 78247
(210) 875-6323

Upon verification of your observations, your certificate and pin will be forwarded to you or your club's Award Co-ordinator, whomever you choose.

Happy Observing!


For a printable version of the Project Log, click here.


NAME OF PROJECT___________________________________________________

Project Begun____________________Project Ended__________________

Seeing Conditions___________________________________________________

Binocular Size________________________________________________

Telescope: Type______________________________________________


Focal Length________________________________________________

Eyepiece Focal Length________________________________________

Observational Notes, Comments and Impressions:


Add pages with copies of any supplementary sketches.


Galileo's TOES:

The Galilean Moons that orbit Jupiter are in a continual dance with the planet.  For those who take the time and make the effort, we have developed a Galileo's TOES Certificate to recognize the accomplishment.

For information about this new certification, click:  Galileo's TOES.



Printable Version of this Page:  PDF File Format

Read the Projects for the Sun and Moon

Read the Projects for the Inner Solar System

Read the Projects for the Outer Solar System

Read the Glossary and References

Find your Solar System Observers Program Award


Solar System Observing Program Coordinator:

Bryan Tobias

3012 Morning Trail
San Antonio, TX 78247
(210) 875-6323