What are Outreach Downloads? (New poster added July 8)

“What telescope should I buy?”

“How can I learn my way around the night sky?”

“What can I see with my telescope?”

Outreach is all about connecting with the public. The Astronomical League has developed a series of downloadable outreach materials that do just that. They help answer questions commonly posed by the public and help spark curiosity about our fascinating hobby. These materials can be displayed at club activities and astronomy events such as Astronomy Day, school sessions, star parties and amateur conventions, and club meetings.

Simply download the pdf files on a CD and take it to a local printing shop (e.g., Kinkos). Many shops will print the materials in black and white on 20 lb paper for as low as $0.75 per square foot. Color printing will likely cost substantially more, which is why most layouts are designed in black and white. At some shops, the maximum paper width is 36 inches with no restriction on length. Indeed, banner posters many feet long can be printed. If your home printer allows banners, they can be printed on banner or “doodle” paper found in craft stores (e.g., Michael’s).

The aspect ratio (width to height) is given in the description of each poster. Therefore, the printed size can be any proportion of that ratio with no unintentional cropping as long as the maximum width doesn’t exceed 36 inches. For instance, a poster with a 2:3 aspect ratio that is originally designed to be 20 inches by 30 inches can also be enlarged to 24 inches by 36 inches.

Foam project boards (20 x 30 inches or 24 x 36 inches) or tri-fold display boards (36 x 48 inches) can be used as the backing support for the posters. These inexpensive rigid backs can be found at craft stores or in the craft section of discount retail stores. The materials can be temporarily mounted using binder clips. This allows posters to be quickly and easily switched with other posters.

Some posters feature questions with multiple choice answers. The correct answers lie hidden under a liftable flap made from a stiff card taped to the poster.

The ABCs of Star Gazing

How would you describe to a friend the size of a sky object, its distance from a particular star, its brightness, or its location on the celestial dome?
The ABCs of stargazing allow you to do just that!

Download “The ABCs of Star Gazing” as banner size (19.28 x 29.28 inch) PDF format 450 Kbytes or as letter size (8.5 x 11 inch) PDF format 101 Kbytes (Revised April 15, 2016).

The Spring Sky

In a guided tour consisting of nine easy steps, the late April or early May sky is described. The poster features a large all-sky map showing the ecliptic, the Milky Way, and stars down to 4th magnitude.

Download “The Spring Sky” as poster size (PDF format 406 Kbytes) or as paper size (650 Kbtyes) 


The Need for Telescopes

Directly compares the apparent sizes of the moon, the bright planets, and a typical field of view of a low-powered telescope.

Download “The Need for Telescopes” as banner size (8.5×44 in.)  PDF 2.6 Mbytes) or as paper size (8.5×11 in.) PDF 987 Kbtyes 


Our Unnatural Night

Aspect ratio: 3:4

Original design size: 36 inches x 48 inches

Requires a lift able “Answer Flap” to conceal the answers to the nine questions posed. Simply tape (masking tape) the top edge of the flap to the top edge of the answer box.

Mounts to a 36 inch x 48 inch inexpensive tri-fold display board.

Describes how problem of light pollution affects us all.

Download in a poster format “Our Unnatural Night” (PDF Format 3.4 Mbytes) or as letter size trifold, 8.5 x 11 inch, front and back for two-sided printing.


The Autum Sky

Aspect ratio: 2:3

In a guided tour consisting of eight easy steps, the late September or early October sky is described. The poster features a large all-sky map showing the ecliptic, the Milky Way, and stars down to 4th magnitude.

Download “The Autumn Sky” as poster size (PDF format 408 Kbytes) or as paper size 8.5x11in (PDF format 668 KBtypes)


Is that a Planet or a Star?

Aspect ratio: 2:3

The visual differences between a planet and a star are noted along with a description of where the different bright planets can appear in the sky. The ecliptic is presented.

Download  “Is that a Planet or a Star?” as poster size 19.487 x 29.443 inch PDF format 296 Kbytes) or as letter size 8.5 x 11 inch 1,879 KBytes. 


Seasons Change, Stars Change

Aspect ratio: 2:3
Diagrams illustrate why different stars come into view as the Earth orbits the sun which causes the seasons to change.

Download “Seasons Change, Stars Change” (PDF format 444 Kbytes)


What is the best telescope for me?

Aspect ratio: 2:3
Newcomers to the hobby are often confused as to what telescope they should buy. This guide gives them suggestions on what to consider and what is important.

Download “What is the best telescope for me?” as banner size (PDF format 428 Kbytes) or as page size (8.5×11 in.) PDF (1,8 Mbytes)


You are here

Aspect ratio: 2:3
Our location in the Milky Way Galaxy is illustrated. The barred spiral galaxy NGC 1365 is used as a model for the Milky Way.

Download “You are here” (PDF format 2.19 Mbytes)


How is your knowledge of astronomy and stargazing?

Aspect ratio: 3 x 4

The public will enjoy answering the questions posed on this 36 x 48 inch poster which fits nicely on a try-fold display board. Requires three liftable cardboard answer flaps. Use masking tape to tape the top edge of each cardboard flap to the top of the respective answer box.

Downoload “How is your knowledge of astronomy and stargazing?” (PDF format  5.4 Mbytes)  – Updated Oct 28, 2011

First Telescopic Observation Certificate

Certificate: landscape

This 8 1/2 x 11 inch certificate can be awarded at public events for people who have never looked through a telescope. Simple fill in their names, dates of observations, the public events where the observations took place, and the objects they observed.

Download “First Telescopic Observation” Certificate” (PDF format 2.5 MBytes)


How do you find celestial objects?

Aspect ratio: 2:3
 People often wonder how amateurs find objects, with relative ease, that can’t be seen with the unaided eye. This poster shows them manual techniques, as well as today’s “GoTo” assemblies.



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