Asterisms Observing Program

Program Staff:

Troy Stratton (Program Chair)
Michelle Stratton (Program Assistant)
5131 Burkman Way
West Valley City, Utah, 84120


People have used their imagination to create pictures in the night sky since the beginning of time. Over the years, these pictures were better defined and organized into the accepted constellations we know today. So how do we identify pictures within the bigger picture? Easy! We call them asterisms. Asterisms are a group of stars that appear to be associated with each other, but are not. The most well known asterism is the Big Dipper. The Big Dipper is only a small portion of the larger constellation Ursa Major. We use our imaginations, and continue to create pictures in the night sky. This program has been designed to help everyone appreciate the beauty and uniqueness that the night sky provides. Perhaps, as you search the stars to locate the designated asterisms, you will have the opportunity to find a "picture in the night sky" of your very own.

Rules and Regulations:

To qualify for the A.L.'s Asterism Program Certificate and Award Pin, you need only to be a member of the Astronomical League, either through an affiliated club or as a Member-at-Large and perform the following:

Observe and sketch 100 asterisms from the list provided. To record your observations, you may your own use log sheets as long as they include the following information:

  • Date
  • Time
  • Observer’s location
  • Seeing conditions
  • Equipment used (size of binocular/telescope, magnification etc…)
  • Name of asterism
  • A simple sketch of asterism

You may like to use a log sheet from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.  They can be found at

At least 5 of the Naked-Eye asterisms from the list must be submitted. Go-To scopes are not allowed.

The Asterism List has been separated into recommended viewing categories. There is no specific requirement placed upon equipment to be used, with the exception of Go-To scope restriction.

As you are observing this program, if you discover a group of stars that looks like a picture to you, feel free to submit it!  (will not count toward the 100 required)

To submit your observations, mail the copies of your logs to the Program Coordinator, along with your name, address, astronomy club or Astronomical League affiliation, e-mail, and phone number. Please do not send your original logs, as they will not be returned. Upon verification of your observations, your certificate and pin will be forwarded either to you or your society's Awards Coordinator, whomever you choose.

While access to an engraving machine exists, your initials and certificate number will be engraved on the back of your award pin.


Special thanks to my wife, Michelle, for her help and patience in formatting my list and web page, to Sue French, Contributing Editor of Sky and Telescope magazine, for her time to review my asterism list, and to A.L.’s Program Coordinator, Aaron B. Clevenson, who stayed with me for over 3 years as I completed this observing program.


Pattern Asterisms by John A. Chiravalle
Asterisms. Small Star Patterns for Telescopes and Binoculars by Demelza Ramakers
Sky and Telescope Magazine's Deep-Sky Wonders by Sue French

Program Staff:

Troy Stratton (Program Chair)
Michelle Stratton (Program Assistant)
5131 Burkman Way
West Valley City, Utah, 84120

Related Links

Printable Introduction
Asterism Observing List (Excel) - Updated on April 29, 2016
Asterism Observing List (PDF) - Updated on April 29, 2016

Program Updates:

The Asterism List is routinely updated with new asterisms to the program for your observing enjoyment. Please check this site for the latest updates. To view all the changes made to the Asterism List, review the Change Log to see the specific additions, deletions and modifications.