NASA Observing Challenges Special Awards

NASA Observing Challenges Special Awards Coordinator:

Aaron B. Clevenson
19411 Cluster Oaks Drive
Humble, TX 77346-2918
(281) 852-4667



The Astronomical League has been working with NASA to bring you Observing Challenges.  These are opportunities to participate in events associated with space missions to objects within the Solar System.  These challenges have certificates signed by the Astronomical League President and Director of NASA Planetary Science.  New opportunities will be added as new milestones for various missions occur.



The Rules and Regulations

To earn the certification, you need to meet these requirements:

  • Image or sketch the required object(s)
  • Submit that image or sketch as indicated by that challenge.  These should show as much detail as possible.
  • Do an outreach event associated with the event in the challenge
  • The deadline for each challenge is typically one month after the event.  Late submissions will not be accepted.

You do not need to be a member of the Astronomical League to receive this certification.

The certificates, which are suitable for framing will be emailed to you, and may be printed by you.


The NASA Observing Challenges

Current Challenges:

             Mercury Transit (deadline for submission: December 11,2019)

  • Never look at the Sun without proper protective equipment! Damage will be permanent and may include blindness.
  • Magnification is required, so you must use a telescope with a solar filter.
  • Leave you eclipse glasses in the drawer at home, they will not be of use.
  • November 11, 2019 is the date for the next Mercury Transit across the face of the Sun.  For most of North America this will be a morning event, starting at 7:37 AM EST and ending at 1;02 PM EST.
  • Observing Challenges:
    • Participants may either image or observe and sketch the sun with Mercury in transit.  This may be done at any time during the transit.
    • Try to capture it at these points when possible:
      • First Contact - as Mercury begins to enter the Sun.
      • Second Contact - as Mercury is first fully seen on the Sun.
      • Third Contact - as Mercury just reaches the far edge of the Sun.
      • Fourth Contact - as Mercury jsut leaves the Sun's disk.
    • Do an outreach event related to the Mercury and Mercury Transits.  Include the date, time, and location of this event in the same email to the coordinator.
    • Submit your observations and images, plus the details of your outreach event, by the deadline, to the coordinator.

Previous Challenges that have been included in the program are:

  • New Horizons rendezvous with Pluto on July 14, 2015 (deadline: August 14, 2015).
  • Comet Siding Spring rendezvous with Mars on October 19, 2014 (deadline:  November 19, 2015).
  • Rosetta Spacecraft rendezvous with Comet Comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko on November 11, 2014 (deadline: January 12, 2015).
  • TESS - Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (deadline: July 31,2018)
  • Mars InSight Mission - landing is scheduled for 11/26/2018 (deadline: December 31, 2018)
  • Apollo - 50th Anniversary (deadline: August 31, 2019)

NASA Observing Challenges Special Awards Coordinator:

Aaron B. Clevenson
19411 Cluster Oaks Drive
Humble, TX 77346-2918
(281) 852-4667