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Twin City Amateur Astronomers
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What we do... continued

As amateur astronomers, we view the sky - both day and night. Several of our members can almost always be found observing the sun by day or working at the TCAA observatories by night. Not infrequently, members using visual telescopes pursue work on observing projects outlined by the Astronomical League. Several of our members prefer to spend their time giving talks at the club’s public observing sessions and to small groups such as civic and social clubs. Still others like to attend the club’s public observing sessions and educate themselves by participating in conferences, reading books, periodicals, and the club’s newsletter. Formal club activities include the following:

  • Annual Meetings - Each February the club holds a business meeting and banquet to elect a new Board of Directors and celebrate another year of the club's existence. Following annual reports and elections, we hold a banquet after which awards and other recognitions are presented and listen to an invited speaker.

  • Summer Picnics - June or August each year traditionally have been the months when we gather for a potluck dinner.

  • Joint Observing Sessions - In recent years the TCAA has gathered with other central Illinois astronomy clubs for all night observing sessions. This gives our members the opportunity to network with those outside our club.

  • Field Trips - From time to time we visit as a group planetaria and astronomical sites around Illinois. Smaller groups travel to western Illinois to view from the dark skies of Jim Edgar-Panther Creek State Park as part of the Illinois Dark-Sky gathering.

  • Solar Expeditions - A few club members are eclipse chasers. During recent years club members have traveled to view total and annual solar eclipses from remote locations. In recent years members have traveled to places within the USA, Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Bolivia, Tanzania, Crete, etc.

  • Conference Attendance - Over the years members have attended conferences for amateur astronomers far and wide. Most popular among conferences are those hosted by other Illinois astronomy clubs, the North Central Region of the Astronomical League (NCRAL). Several of our members have also attended the national Astronomical League Convention (ALCon).

  • Conference Hosting - During 2010 the TCAA hosted the annual NCRAL meeting. During late summer of 2014 we are hosting a mini conference for astronomy clubs of central Illinois. We are now making plans for hosting the 2016 joint meeting of NCRAL and MSRAL (North Central and Mid-States Regions of the Astronomical League).

  • Public outreach. Public outreach is introductory in nature and designed to pique interest in the field of amateur astronomy. Members are regularly involved with events such as TCAA Public Observing Sessions, ISU's Family Science Day, SGNC's AutumnFest, and sometimes National Astronomy Day.

  • Educational activities. Educational activities consist of providing in-depth information over an extended period of time.  We do this both internal and external to the club. For instance, we train our members in the use of the club observatories; we also provide adult education courses from time to time – most recently through the adult education program of Heartland Community College. We also provide workshops for groups of teachers intent on learning more about astronomy or Scouts who are working on loops or merit badges.

  • Light Pollution Activism - Some of our members have worked with corporations, towns, state parks, and even the Governor on light pollution abatement.

  • Working with Professional Astronomers - Efforts are just beginning to interact with professional astronomers in the areas of asteroid studies and possibly even variable stars. We only recently required the supplies and capabilities to conduct our own research in these and other areas.

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