A little bit about our club
The Naperville Astronomical Association had its beginnings as the Naperville High School Astronomy Club in the early 1970's. When the building of an observatory and telescope became the students' goal, it became necessary for them to form an organization outside the restrictions of a school sponsored group; in March of 1973 the Naperville Astronomical Association was founded.
The N.A.A. remained primarily a high school aged group until April, 1975, when membership was opened to the general public. The club has since grown a strong foundation in the area, with a membership area stretching far outside of Naperville. The club has always attracted members with a wide variety of experience, including seasoned amateurs, but strives to create an interesting and educational environment for the beginning astronomer of any age.
The N.A.A. holds regular monthly meetings, which feature a presentation on some aspect of astronomy. The wide-ranging topics include current astronomical research, observing techniques and projects, history, telescope making, and more. Speakers include members of the N.A.A. and other amateurs, educators, and professional astronomers. Club activities are discussed, and there is often time for informal discussion afterwards. These meetings are open to the public and free of charge; attending them is a great way to get introduced to the club, meet some members, and join if you like.
The regular monthly meetings are normally held on the first Tuesday evening of the month, usually in the downstairs conference room of the Naperville Municipal Center. For upcoming meeting information, see the Club News & Events page; for direction to the Naperville Municipal Center, see the Maps & Directions page.
The N.A.A. also hosts a second monthly presentation, called the Astronomy Fundamentals Program. Each month, a member with expertise in a certain area of amateur astronomy gives a talk aimed to deliver basic, fundamental information to members and guests who may just be beginning to study that particular subject. Topics covered include many aspects of observational astronomy, telescope use, and the science of astronomy.
The Astronomy Fundamentals Programs are normally held on the third Tuesday evening of the month, also in meeting rooms at the Naperville Municipal Center; they, too, are normally open to the public. For upcoming meeting information, see the Club News & Events page; for directions, see the Maps & Directions page.
The N.A.A. own and operates two observatories, located on a large tract of City of Naperville land on the south end of town. The first is dedicated to the late Glen D. Riley, a physics teacher at Naperville Central High School who sponsored the high school group. Originally constructed in 1973, the facility was re-designed with many new features when city plans necessitated moving it to another part of the site in 1990-1991. More recently, the club constructed the DuPage Valley Observatory. More information on the observatory facilities is located on the Astronomy Education Center page.
Community, school, and youth groups can request special evenings for private viewing sessions at the facility; see the Contact Us page for scheduling information.
SPECIAL NOTICE: Due to local and national security concerns, public access to the grounds of our Riley Observatory may be prohibited at times, forcing cancellation of our regular Public Evenings there. Please see our Club News & Events page for information on public stargazing sessions we currently have scheduled, and the Special Access Considerations section of the Map page for more information.
The N.A.A. schedules observing get-togethers ("star parties") for members throughout the year. Some are at our observatories; others are at private sites located farther from the brightly lit skies of Chicagoland. Members bring portable telescopes to these sites and share their viewing with one another. Members also help each other choose and learn to use observing equipment.
We often get inquiries about the "dark sites" we use for observing during the spring, summer and fall; they are listed by code letters in the calendar. Sorry, we are not able to tell you more about them unless you become an N.A.A. member; by our arrangements with the property owners, we cannot release the site locations to anyone outside of our organization. New members should receive a "Member's Folder", which has maps to the various observing sites, access instructions, and site use rules. Some sites are available for members to use for observing whenever they like.
The N.A.A. publishes a monthly newsletter called The Focal Plane. It details all current club news and activities and upcoming programs and events. Non-members may request to receive the next issue in the mail; see the Contact Us page for information. For a calendar of our current activities and upcoming programs, see the Club News & Events page of this site.
Yearly dues for membership in the N.A.A. are $20 for an individual or $30 for a family. See the Membership Info page for more details on membership benefits and becoming a member.
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