National Young Astronomer Award

The Astronomical League sponsors the National Young Astronomer Award (NYAA) to recognize the outstanding astronomical research achievements of high-school-age students throughout the United States.  Please spread the word about this.

The Application and Award:

To apply, eligible young astronomers should submit the application package by the deadline, March 31.  The package will consist of a completed application form, a well-documented astronomy project of the applicant’s own work, a summary of astronomy-related activities, and optional exhibits.  It is recommended that applicants be members of the Astronomical League, either through an astronomy club or a youth member-at-large membership.  A team of professional astronomers will judge the entries.

An application and instruction sheet for may be downloaded here.  Please follow the instructions completely.  It is recommended that the application package be submitted electronically to

The Award Telescope:

The first-place winner will receive a fine telescope made possible by the generosity of Explore Scientific, which also contributes significantly to the administration of the NYAA program. The first-place and second-place winners receive an expense-paid trip to the Astronomical League national convention (AlCon) to receive their awards.

Other Recognition:

Special plaques are presented to the first, second and third place winners at the league’s national convention each summer. Announcements regarding the top finishers will also be submitted to the major national astronomy magazines, the League’s quarterly magazine, the Reflector and to the top finishers’ local news media.

NYAA Award Expenses and Reimbursements

  • Travel expenses (typically airfare): The Astronomical League pays only for the youth winner, not either parent. Parents need to pay for their own airfare.
  • Accommodations: The Astronomical League pays only for the room for the youth winner. The parent can stay with the student if the room is configured to allow that. The student should arrive no earlier than the night before ALCon talks begin and leave the morning after the Awards Banquet. Other nights are strictly at the expense of the student and his or her family.
  • Registration: The Astronomical League pays the ALCon registration, the Star BQ, the Banquet, and any taxi charges from the airport and back (assuming no car rental) for the youth winner and parent.
  • Car Rental: The Astronomical League allows $100 toward car rental. Some venues offer free shuttle service to and from the airport.
  • Meals: The Astronomical League offers the youth winner up to $30 per day for meals (Star BQ and Banquet meals are already covered, as noted above).
  • Please give all receipts to either the Astronomical League President, the Awards Chair, or the Astronomical League Treasurer. The receipts will be submitted to the Astronomical League Treasurer for approval and reimbursement.
  • Because of IRS regulations, IRS form W9 needs to be completed by the Horkheimer youth winners before any cash awards and expense reimbursements are given.

Past NYAA Top Finishers with Title of Project:


Year Place Awardee(s) Location Title
1993 1st Blake Warren Thomas Edgewood, NM, USA “Spectrographic Analysis of Cepheid Pulsation”
1994 1st Stephanie C. Cinereski Gainesville, FL, USA  “Solar Flare and Sunspot Research”
1995 1st Heather E. Castellano St. Hedwig, TX, USA “Elements of Impact Crater Formation”
1996 1st Mani S. Mahjouri Columbia, MD, USA “Simulation of Charged Particle Motion in Jupiter’s Magnetosphere”
1997 1st Heather Cameron Greenwich, NS, Canada  “Solar Observation Station”
1998 1st Mary Dombrowski Glastonbury, Ct, USA “Cataclysmic Stellar Variability with Eclipsing Binary Superimposition”
1999 1st Elizabeth Fernandez Albuquerque, NM, USA  “Active Galaxies in the Perseus Supercluster”
2000 1st Patrick L. Kelly Washington, DC, USA “The Color-Magnitude Relation in Hickson Compact Group 62”
2001 1st Susannah C. Lazar Baton  Rouge, LA, USA “Performed Photometry of Many Asteroids”
2002 1st Albert King Lin Fresh Meadows, NY, USA “A Survey of the public Chandra Data Archive (CDA) in Search of Serendipitous X-ray Pulsars:  A Systematic Approach”
2003 1st Maxwell Cassady Moe Fort Collins, CO, USA “Demographic  and Atmospheric Effects on the Quality of the Night Sky”
2004 1st John Davis Penfield, NY, USA “Built a Research Grade Observatory From Scratch”
2005 1st Christopher Limbach Milwaukee, WI, USA “Light Curve Analysis of Eclipsing Binary Star EP Aurigae”
2006 1st Mary Masterman Oklahoma City, OK, USA “Investigating Stars and Nebulae Through the Construction of an Astronomical Spectrograph.”
2nd Daniel Handlin Lincroft, NJ, USA “An Empirical Determination of the Effect of Atmospheric Drag on Orbital Decay”
3rd Benjamin Jones Helotes, TX, USA “Achieving Equal Light Distribution: Creating Effective Outdoor Lighting Modifications: A Second Year Project”
2007 1st Naomi Pequette Littleton, CO, USA The Orion Nebula:  A Good Contender for Housing an “Earth-like” Planet”
2008 1st John Hodge II Columbia, SC, USA “Light Curve Analysis of Cataclysmic Variable Star Systems:  Cam Var 06, FS Aur, HT Cas, IP Peg, and EQ Aqr”
HR Honorable Mention:  Lara Knorek Kalamazoo, MI, USA “Analysis of Light Curves of Supernovae”
HR Honorable Mention: Neil Pearson Evergreen, CO, USA Exemplary Academic Achievement in Math and Science
2009 1st Harry Gaebler Bloomington, IN, USA “A Study of the Correlation Between Spiral Galaxy Distance and Morphology Using both Redshift and Extended Object Photometry”
 2nd Jordan Bramble Virginia Beach, VA, USA “Asteroid Research Using the Fan Mountain Observatory Rapid Response Robotic Telescope”
3rd Gayathri Cheran Burke, VA, USA “A Study of the Abundance of Wolf Rayet Stars”
2010 1st Andrew Hitchner Norristown, PA, USA “A Study in Stellar Spectroscopy”
 2nd Tongji “Youyou” Li Hershey, PA, USA “Will Humans Become Extinct Like the Dinosaurs Did?”
3rd Erika Tinley Tucson, AZ, USA “The Geometry of Active Galactic Nuclei as Evidenced by Their Emission Line Spectra”
2011 1st Ben Cark Lancaster, PA, USA “The Close Binary Fraction: A Bayesian Analysis of SDSS M Dwarf Spectra.”
2nd Travis Le Honolulu, HI, USA “A Comparison Similar Planetary Systems of WASP-2.”
2012 1st Justin Tieman Blue Springs, MO, USA Alien Worlds; Space Rocks.”
2nd Travis Le Honolulu, HI, USA “Determining ‘Hot Spots’ through Correlations of CMEs and Solar Flares.”
2013 1st Mark Morretto Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA “Deep Impact Spectral Observations of Naturally Occurring Mini-Outbursts.”
2nd Henry Lin Shreveport, LA, USA “Cool Bias in Sunyaer – Zel’dovich Galaxy Cluster Surveys.”
2014 1st Pranav Sivakumar Barrington, IL, USA “Morphological Identification of Wide-Separation Gravitationally Lensed Quasars.”
2nd Katie Shen Sterling, VA, USA “Census of HII Regions in SDSS.”
2015 1st Theodora Mautz Portland, OR, USA Investigating the Effects of Milky Way Globular Clusters’ Galactocentric Distances on Their Rotational Velocities about the Galactic Center
2015 Sydney Marler Ridgecrest, CA, USA  “The Effects of Interstellar Medium on the X-Ray Spectral Characteristics of Gamma Ray Bursts”​
2016 1st Jayasuriya Senthilvelan and Swagat Bhattacharyya Morgantown, WV, USA “Detection of Interstellar Molecule OH in W3, W49, Cassiopeia A, K350 W75s and NGC 7538 using the 40 ft. Telescope and the GBT”
2nd Megan T. Glalluca Clovis, CA, USA “Radiation-Hydrodynamic Outflows and Magnetar Glitches and Anti-Glitches”
2017 1st Perri Zilberman Bellmore, NY, USA “The Occurrence Rate of Hot Jupiter Host Stars with Warm Debris Disks”
2nd Shan Shanmurugan Selvamurugan San Jose, CA, USA “Analyzing the Metallic Tendencies of Terrestrial Planet and Gas Giant Formation and Evolution”
2018 1st Vivek Vijayakumar San Marcos, CA, USA “Analyzing the Expansion rates of Planetary Nebulae.”
2nd Pranati Modumudi San Jose, CA, USA “X-Ray Study of Multiple Particle Acceleration Zones in the Blazar Mrk 421.”
2019 1st Ashini Modi Shreveport, LA, USA “A Search for Exoplanets in High Metallicity Open Clusters Using a Large Scale Photometric Algorithm”
2nd Isaac Broudy Chula Vista, CA, USA “Testing Special Relativity with High Resolution Differential Photometry of Eclipsing Binary Systems”
2020 1st Karen Lei Saratoga, CA, USA “Identification of Unknown Source of 21 cm Neutral Hydrogen Emission”
2nd Vivek Vijayakumar San Marcos, CA, USA “Characterizing the Pulsations of Delta Scuti Stars.”
2021 1st Ryan Clairmont San Diego, CA, USA “Evolution of Cat’s Eye Nebula Revealed Through Morpho-Kinematic and Hydrodynamic Modeling”
2nd Tarun Kota Apple Valley, MN, USA “Detection and Characteristics of Astronomical Dwarfs Using CATWISE”
2022 1st Harish Krishnakumar Richmond, WA, USA “Analysis of Ring Galaxies Detected Using Deep Learning with Real and Simulated Data”
2nd Zadar Haider New York City, NY, USA A Novel Method of Transit Detection Using Parallel Processing and Machine Learning”
2023 1st Tie: Kaitlyn Wang San Jose, CA, USA “Discovery of the Smallest Ultra-Short-Period Planet Using GRFC: a Novel GPU-Parallelized Phase Folding Detection System”
 1st Tie: León Garcia Corvallis, OR “Simulating the Dynamics, Collisions, and Morphology of Galactic Ultralight Dark Matter Haloes”
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