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Astronomy announces 2013 Out-of-this-world Award winner

Out of nearly 20 entries, the Louisville Astronomical Society wins Astronomy’s annual award honoring astronomy outreach programs.
Louisville Astronomical Society Telescope 101 meeting
Each year, the Louisville Astronomical Society invites the public to the club’s Telescope 101 meeting. In 2013, the event was held at the University of Louisville Planetarium. Members instructed visitors on the use of their new scopes, and everyone viewed the “Skies Over Louisville” program afterward.
All images courtesy Louisville Astronomical Society
Astronomy magazine has chosen the Louisville Astronomical Society (LAS) from Louisville, Kentucky, as the winner of its 2013 Out-of-this-world Award for outstanding public programming. The LAS’ many accomplishments helped it stand out from the competition, not least of which are the number and variety of the programs the club offers throughout the year.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” said LAS president Ken Alderson. “On our fourth try, we won the Astronomy magazine Out-of-this-world Award. When you’re up against so many excellent clubs worldwide, it takes something special to win.”
 
“This year, we focused on our unique LAS Urban Astronomy Center (UAC) located in E. P. ‘Tom’ Sawyer State Park right here in Louisville,” Alderson continued. Established in 2007, this 2,000-square-foot astronomy education center is at the back of a 440-acre park, which is an oasis of darkness in a urban environment.

“The UAC is our headquarters and the jumping-off point for all of the 96 events we hosted in 2013,” Alderson said. He reported that 6,053 astronomy enthusiasts attended those events with 57 LAS volunteers bringing their scopes for public observing.
Louisville Astronomical Society star party
On the night of February 23, 2013, the Louisville Astronomical Society hosted a star party at nearby Beckley Creek Woods. More than 100 people showed up for a night of observing.
“This wonderful honor from Astronomy magazine came as the result of our dedicated members looking for the ‘wow’ factor when a kid first sees the rings of Saturn, the craters of the Moon, or Jupiter’s moons,” he said.

The LAS will use the award to buy a new PC, laptop, telescope, and binoculars for the center. This will enable members to give better presentations, and they will have more mobile instruments to take to sidewalk astronomy events.

“All of us in the LAS wish to thank Astronomy magazine for this award,” Alderson said. “You have contributed to the WOW!”

LAS is the eighth winner since the award debuted in 2006. Last year’s award went to the New Hampshire Astronomical Society, the previous year’s award went to The Albuquerque Astronomical Society, and the 2010 award went to the Santa Barbara Astronomical Unit in California. The winner receives $2,500 from Astronomy magazine.

“All the award submissions were top-notch, and it made picking the winner a tough choice,” says David J. Eicher, editor of Astronomy magazine. “With each year, it seems that astronomy clubs are doing more and more to help people enjoy our hobby as well as understand a bit of the science behind it.”
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