Each year, an astronomical society in each of the League's ten geographical "Regions" hosts a regional meeting of some kind - either a convention or a less formal observing gathering. In addition, each year, an even braver group hosts the League's national convention, the ALCon. The opportunities for the exchange of ideas and information for the amateur astronomer abound at these events. . . new ideas about telescopes and optics, observing, photography, research, computers, education; the opportunity to interact with professionals. . . the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, it is sometimes difficult to get a group to volunteer to host a convention.
The purpose of this booklet is to provide an incentive for different groups, like yours, to volunteer as host. Any group, even small organizations, can feel confident that their convention will be well-organized, successful, and a lot of fun for the attendees if there is a simple checklist to follow, full of guidelines and suggestions. Sometimes problems or questions arise that a planner is not sure how to handle, so we have also included a list of people who can be contacted for advice.
We want to thank the following people, who gladly supplied us with suggestions and helpful hints they have accumulated through their own convention planning experiences, which we have incorporated into our text: Rollin Van Zandt, Jim Fox, George Allen, Gene Dietzen, Merry Edenton-Wooten, Doris Koster, Dan Koehler, Stephen Peters, Ken Mohr and Matt Ganis. Extra thanks to Rollin and Jim, for proofreading and approving the project, and to the authors of two previous manuals from 1958 and 1974.
Planning a convention should not be an ordeal. Even though there is a lot of work involved, with the proper organization and discipline it can be a fun, rewarding, and profitable experience.
At ALCON '90 in St. Louis, our League officers defined the League's mission: To promote the science of astronomy: by fostering astronomical education, by providing incentives for astronomical observation and research, and by assisting communication among amateur astronomical societies. By hosting a convention, you can contribute to the mission that the Astronomical League has set forth to inspire its members.
Good Luck, and Happy Planning!
Deena and Janet