Universe Sampler Observing Program

Universe Sampler Observing Program Coordinator:

Amelia Goldberg
5115 Stillbrooke Drive
Houston, TX  77035
(713) 385-8917
E-mail: SGoldberg124@comcast.net

Urban Club Logo


The Universe Sampler Observing Program is a unique Observing Program designed specifically for the beginning observer. It is designed to expose the beginner to a sample of the many different types of objects that the Universe has to offer for our observing enjoyment. It is designed to help the new observer learn his or her way around the sky and to teach some of the basics of astronomy. It offers an alternate naked-eye list of deep sky objects for those who are interested in astronomy but shy away because they do not have a telescope or binoculars.

The Universe Sampler Observing Program will take you on an exciting journey through the heavens. You will meet many of the brightest stars, learn their names and the constellations in which they are found. You will visit our moon and some of the planets that share our solar system. You will greet at least one of the comets that leave the outer reaches of the solar system to visit the neighborhood of the sun. You will become acquainted with double stars, variable stars, star clusters, nebulae and galaxies.

Once you have completed the Universe Sampler Observing Program, you should be well acquainted with the night sky and be able to find your way among the stars with no problem. You should be in a position to know what type of objects interest you most and be ready to continue your observing with one or more of the Astronomical League’s other Observing Programs, e.g., the Messier Observing Program, the Double Star Observing Program, the Lunar Observing Programs, etc.

The Universe Sampler Observing Program is designed specifically as a teaching aid for the beginning observer. Due to the program’s design and purpose, the object lists are not available separate from the manual. You can order the manual from Astronomical League Sales.

The titles of the lessons are:

  • Basic Sky Movement
  • How to Find North in the Sky
  • Angular Measures and Distance
  • Stating the Location of Objects in the Sky
  • Star-Hopping
  • Eyepiece Field Orientation
  • Recording Your Observations
  • The Art of Seeing
  • The Moon
  • Variable Stars
  • The Sun

Requirements and Rules

This certification is available to members of the Astronomical League, either through their local astronomical society or as a Member-At-Large.  If you are not a member and would like to become one, check with your local astronomical society, search for a local society on the Astronomical League Website (click here), or join as a Member-At-Large (click here).

The Astronomical League offers special recognition in the form of a Universe Sampler Observing Program certificate and pin for those that have completed either the “naked eye” or the “telescope” path. You may complete both programs and get two certificates (but only one pin). To obtain a certification you must observe the following rules:

Use of setting circles, computer driven telescopes (except for tracking purposes only) or any electronic device used to locate objects is NOT allowed. The purpose of the Universe Sampler Observing Program is to help the beginner learn his or her way around the sky. Use of the devices mentioned above would defeat the purpose of the program. Instead, use the star-hopping method to locate objects. Refer to the lesson on star-hopping.

  • You must complete Object List I as naked-eye observations.  You must also complete either Object List II as telescopic/binocular observations or Object List III as naked-eye observations.
  • You must keep a log of your observations stating the object number or name, date and time (local or UT), location (latitude and longitude), sky conditions (seeing and transparency), size of instrument and magnification (or naked-eye observation), and your description of the object.
  • You may copy the log sheets in the back of the manual for your use.

Submitting for Certification

Upon completion of the Observing Program, submit your log sheets to an officer or appointed person from your club for verification. A letter or email from that person should be sent to the Universe Sampler Observing Program Coordinator requesting your certificate and pin. Members at Large should submit copies of log sheets to the Coordinator since originals will not be returned unless you supply a postage paid return envelope.

Submission Requirements

Be sure to include:

  • Your Name
  • Mailing Address
  • Email Address
  • Phone Number
  • Society Affiliation
  • And to whom the certification should be sent.

Upon verification of your submission and of your active membership in the Astronomical League, your recognition (certificate, pin, etc.) will be sent to you or to the awards coordinator for your society, as you specified.  Your name will also appear in an upcoming issue of the Reflector magazine and in the Astronomical League’s on-line database.  Congratulations.  Good luck with your next observing challenge.

Universe Sampler Observing Program Coordinator:

Amelia Goldberg
5115 Stillbrooke Drive
Houston, TX  77035
(713) 385-8917
E-mail: SGoldberg124@comcast.net


Scroll to top