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


Blake Warren Thomas; Edgewood, New Mexico; “Spectrographic Analysis of Cepheid Pulsation”


Stephanie C. Cinereski; Gainesville, Florida; “Solar Flare and Sunspot Research”


Heather E. Castellano; St. Hedwig, Texas; “Elements of Impact Crater Formation”


Mani S. Mahjouri; Columbia, Maryland; “Simulation of Charged Particle Motion in Jupiter’s Magnetosphere”


Heather Cameron; Greenwich, Nova Scotia; “Solar Observation Station”


Mary Dombrowski; Glastonbury, Connecticut; “Cataclysmic Stellar Variability with Eclipsing Binary Superimposition”


Elizabeth Fernandez; Albuquerque, New Mexico; “Active Galaxies in the Perseus Supercluster”


Patrick L. Kelly; Washington, DC; “The Color-Magnitude Relation in Hickson Compact Group 62”


Susannah C. Lazar; Baton  Rouge, Louisiana; “Performed Photometry of Many Asteroids”


Albert King Lin; Fresh Meadows, New York; “A Survey of the public Chandra Data Archive (CDA) in Search of Serendipitous X-ray Pulsars:  A Systematic Approach”


Maxwell Cassady Moe; Fort Collins, Colorado; “Demographic  and Atmospheric Effects on the Quality of the Night Sky”


John Davis; Penfield, New York; “Built a Research Grade Observatory From Scratch”


Christopher Limbach; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; “Light Curve Analysis of Eclipsing Binary Star EP Aurigae”


  1.  Mary Masterman; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; “Investigating Stars and Nebulae Through the Construction of an Astronomical Spectrograph.” 
  2. Daniel Handlin; Lincroft, New Jersey; “An Empirical Determination of the Effect of Atmospheric Drag on Orbital Decay”
  3. Benjamin Jones; Helotes, Texas; “Achieving Equal Light Distribution:  Creating Effective Outdoor Lighting Modifications: A Second Year Project” 


 Naomi Pequette; Littleton, Colorado; “The Orion Nebula:  A Good Contender for Housing an “Earth-like” Planet”


 John Hodge II; Columbia, South Carolina; “Light Curve Analysis of Cataclysmic Variable Star Systems:  Cam Var 06, FS Aur, HT Cas, IP Peg, and EQ Aqr” 

 Honorable Mention:  Lara Knorek;  Kalamazoo, Michigan

                                Neil Pearson; Evergreen, Colorado


  1.  Harry Gaebler; Bloomington, Indiana; “A Study of the Correlation Between Spiral Galaxy Distance and Morphology Using both Redshift and Extended Object Photometry”
  2. Jordan Bramble; Virginia Beach, Virginia’ “Asteroid Research Using the Fan Mountain Observatory Rapid Response Robotic Telescope”  
  3.  Gayathri Cheran; Burke, Virginia; “A Study of the Abundance of Wolf Rayet Stars”


  1.  Andrew Hitchner; Norristown, Pennsylvania; “A Study in Stellar Spectroscopy”
  2. Tongji “Youyou” Li; Hershey, Pennsylvania; “Will Humans Become Extinct Like the Dinosaurs Did?”
  3. Erika Tinley; Tucson, Arizona;  “The Geometry of Active Galactic Nuclei as Evidenced by Their Emission Line Spectra”


1. Ben Clark; Lancaster, PA; “The Close Binary Fraction: A Bayesian Analysis of SDSS M Dwarf Spectra.”

2. Travis Le; Honolulu, HI; “A Comparison Similar Planetary Systems of WASP-2.”


1. Justin Tieman; Blue Springs, MO; “Alien Worlds; Space Rocks.”

2. Travis Le; Honolulu, HI; “Determining ‘Hot Spots’ through Correlations of CMEs and Solar Flares.”


1. Mark Morretto; Briarcliff Manor, NY; “Deep Impact Spectral Observations of Naturally Occurring Mini-Outbursts.”

2. Henry Lin, Shreveport, LA; “Cool Bias in Sunyaer – Zel’dovich Galaxy Cluster Surveys.”


1. Pranav Sivakumar; Barrington, IL; “Morphological Identification of Wide-Separation Gravitationally Lensed Quasars.” 

2. Katie Shen; Sterling, VA; “Census of HII Regions in SDSS.” 


1.Theodora Mautz; Portland, OR; “Investigating the Effects of Milky Way Globular Clusters’ Galactocentric Distances on Their Rotational Velocities about the Galactic Center

2. Sydney Marler, Ridgecrest, CA, “The Effects of Interstellar Medium on the X-Ray Spectral Characteristics of Gamma Ray Bursts”​


  1. Jayasuriya Senthilvelan and Swagat Bhattacharyya, “Detection of Interstellar Molecule OH in W3, W49, Cassiopeia A, K350 W75s and NGC 7538 using the 40 ft. Telescope and the GBT”
  2. Megan T. Glalluca, “Radiation-Hydrodynamic Outflows and Magnetar Glitches and Anti-Glitches”


  1. Perri Zilberman, “The Occurrence Rate of Hot Jupiter Host Stars with Warm Debris Disks”
  2. Shan Shanmurugan Selvamurugan, “Analyzing the Metallic Tendencies of Terrestrial Planet and Gas Giant Formation and Evolution”
  1. Vivek Vijaya Kumar, “Analyzing the Expansion rates of Planetary Nebulae.”
  2. Pranati Modumudi, “X-Ray Study of Multiple Particle Acceleration Zones in the Blazar Mrk 421.”
  1. Karen Lei, “Identification of Unknown Source of 21 cm Neutral Hydrogen Emission”
  2. Vivek Vijaya Kumar, “Characterizing the Pulsations of Delta Scuti Stars.”
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