The North Central Region of the Astronomical League (NCRAL) was established on August 30, 1947. Today it consists of 42 associations scattered across the upper Midwest. States included in the region with the most to least number of member associations are Illinois (16), Wisconsin (14), Iowa (5), Minnesota (5), Upper Peninsula of Michigan (1), North Dakota (1), and South Dakota (0). Members-at-large of the Astronomical League are also part of the NCRAL membership.
The goals of NCRAL are numerous, but the most essential are the promotion of amateur astronomy and fellowship among its members. The Region does so through a variety of means, but the most important are the annual spring convention, the quarterly Northern Lights newsletter, and star parties.
· Annual conventions are hosted by one of our member associations each spring. These gatherings are as varied as the hosts, but generally consist of invited speakers and contributed talks, tours of astronomical facilities and museums, star parties, imaging contests, club displays, show-and-tell, formal discussions, and include plenty of time for camaraderie. Business meetings set the direction of the Region for the following year. A closing banquet is the setting for a keynote speaker and the venue at which the NCRAL Region Award is presented to one or more members who have provided distinguished service to amateur astronomy within the North Central region.
· The Northern Lights newsletter is compiled by the Region Chair and produced an Editor-in-Chief. The newsletter is distributed electronically in portable document format (PDF) to each member association’s President, ALCor, and newsletter editor for dissemination to their association’s membership. Executive Council members as well as individual association members contribute to the content of this full-color publication. The newsletter is growing in both size and scope and typically runs from 24-30 pages. Back issues of the newsletter can be found on the region’s website.
· There are typically half a dozen star parties taking place within the Region each year. Many, but not all, are hosted by Region-affiliated clubs. To learn more about the dates, times, and locations of these events, be certain to look for announcements in the Region’s newsletter.
NCRAL is governed by an Executive Council consisting of the Region’s three elected officials (Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary-Treasurer) in concert with the Representative to the AL Council. The NCRAL Council that guides the Region in concert with the Executive Council. The NCRAL Council consists of association presidents and one representative of all the AL-affiliated astronomy clubs in a six-state region. The governing Bylaws can be found on the Region’s website.
NCRAL’s website is available separate from the Astronomical League website. The website contains detailed information about the Region’s activities and benefits. You may access the NCRAL website through the following URL: https://ncral.wordpress.com/
(Last updated 6/19/17, cjw)