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Night Sky Network: Astronomy Clubs bringing the wonders of the universe to you
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Frequently Asked Questions

Here is a list of frequently asked questions about the Night Sky Network and our website.

Night Sky Network Member Clubs
Applying for Membership in the Night Sky Network
When a club becomes a member of the Night Sky Network
Other

Night Sky Network Member Clubs

How do I contact a club to do a presentation for my organization?

Enter your zip code on Find Clubs to find to find a club near you. Click on the map icon, then on Club Information and use the displayed Club information to contact them.

Search for astronomy events in your community.

How do I find out about events held by astronomy clubs?

Enter your zip code on Find Events to search for astronomy events near your community.

Click on the event to find out more information.


Applying for Membership in the Night Sky Network

What is the Night Sky Network?

star party
The Night Sky Network is a partnership of amateur astronomy clubs, Astronomical Society of the Pacific, and other organizations.

For an overview, watch the videos on the About the Network page.

Amateur astronomers regularly share their knowledge, time, and telescopes to bring amazing aspects of astronomy to the public.


In ongoing research by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and the Institute for Learning Innovation, amateur astronomers express the need for support of their outreach efforts. The main requests were:

  • Materials on themed topics
  • Training in the use of the materials
  • Effective ways to communicate with varied audiences
  • Providing services to clubs to expand and support their outreach programs
  • Networking with other amateurs doing outreach
The Night Sky Network was inaugurated and has been expanded to help meet these needs.

Amateur astronomers have an interest in providing the public with entertaining, engaging ways to learn basic astronomy concepts. It is one of the NASA education goals as well to improve the American public understanding of astronomy.

The Night Sky Network has been developed and expanded with the dedicated assistance of advisory teams of amateur astronomers and industry experts.

Why should my club apply for membership in the Night Sky Network (NSN)?

Your club will join a national coalition of amateur astronomy clubs bringing astronomy and the excitement of NASA missions to your communities.

Membership in the Night Sky Network is free.  Click here for a full list of benefits.

This is an opportunity to:

  • Enhance the public outreach you already do
  • Encourage more of your members to participate in outreach
  • Increase the confidence of those who are interested in outreach
  • Gain national recognition for your outreach efforts
  • Keep up-to-date on the latest NASA discoveries via members-only teleconferences with NASA scientists
Your club can:
  • Receive Outreach ToolKits on themed topics in astronomy
  • Maintain an online calendar of events enhanced with a number of services to help manage your club and its events
  • Discuss ideas for outreach with other NSN members
  • Download free online activities to provide you with new ideas for engaging your visitors at astronomy events
For more information on the benefits of membership, watch the videos on the About the Network page.

What are the qualifications for Membership?

Qualifications:

  • Your club must have a minimum of 15 members
  • Your club must be based in the United States, its Territories, or Possessions
  • Approval by an officer of your club
  • Your club commits to using Night Sky Network Resources in a minimum of five public astronomy events a year.
  • Apply for membership using the online application form. We recommend that you review the contents of the online application form (pdf) before applying.
But your continued enthusiasm with sharing your knowledge, time, and telescopes with the public is the primary qualification!

Qualifying clubs must show a commitment to sharing astronomy with the public and an interest in contributing to the Night Sky Network community.

How does my club submit an application?

Only online applications will be accepted. You will need to designate two different members from your club as club contacts.

Membership in the Night Sky Network is free.

What happens when my club applies for membership?

Your application will be acknowledged within a few days.

Your application will be reviewed and your club contacts will be notified within two to four weeks of your club membership status.

When a club becomes a member of the Night Sky Network

What happens when my club is accepted for membership?

You will then be eligible for all the benefits of membership in the Night Sky Network.

Your primary point of contact for your club will be your Night Sky Network (NSN) Club Coordinators.

Your club may download a special Night Sky Network logo and link to post on your website designating your club as a member of the Night Sky Network. You have the right to use this logo on your website, club correspondence, and publicity.

Your club is listed as a member on the Night Sky Network.

The Club Officer and the Night Sky Network Club Coordinator listed on the application form are each sent an email with his or her login and password for the Night Sky Network. Through the Club Coordinator, other club members can be registered as participants in the Night Sky Network.

Your club will become eligible to receive your first ToolKit after logging two public astronomy events using Night Sky Network Astronomy Activities and resources. Details will be sent to your Club Coordinators.

We recommend you place the Night Sky Network login page into your Favorites or Bookmark the page in your browser.

What does my Club Coordinator do?

Your club needs to assign a primary and at least one backup Club Coordinator. In case the primary Club Coordinator is unavailable, the backup can take over. The primary and backup Club Coordinators are the club contacts you put on your application for membership. The Club Coordinators can change who is designated for the role after your club is accepted.

The Night Sky Network Club Coordinators:

  • Receive and manage any new Outreach ToolKits
  • Introduce the Night Sky Network services and the Outreach ToolKits to club members
  • Maintain the roster of your club members who are participants in the Night Sky Network.
  • Schedule events and approve events logged by club members
  • Maintains your NSN Club Home page.

How does my club maintain its membership in the Night Sky Network?

To receive continued support for this program, NASA must document the success of the Night Sky Network. This is accomplished through event logging.

To remain a member in good standing of the Night Sky Network, your club agrees to log a minimum of five outreach events a year using the Outreach ToolKits and Night Sky Network resources. These are referred to as NSN Events. Timely and accurate logging of outreach activities and events into the Night Sky Network (NSN) is essential.

An NSN Club that continues to log at least two NSN events per calendar quarter will be eligible to receive additional released Outreach ToolKits and will continue to participate in all activities provided by the Night Sky Network.

What is "outreach"?

"Outreach" is any activity that involves sharing astronomy with your community, with youth groups, or with your astronomy club members.

An "NSN event" is when you use of any part of the Outreach ToolKits or other Night Sky Network resources in any setting where one or more of your club members are presenting information on astronomy to any number of other people. All of these are examples of NSN events as long as you use some part of the Outreach ToolKits or NSN resources: a star party, a presentation for your club members, a presentation or star party for a youth or community group, a demo set up at a science museum, a classroom activity or science fair, a gathering at your house where you take a group of friends outside to look at the sky.

In addition, an NSN "event" can be an article you write for a club newsletter or local newspaper or a spot on a local radio or TV show about the Outreach ToolKit, about the NASA missions featured in the ToolKit, or about the Night Sky Network program.

What are Outreach ToolKits?

Each Outreach ToolKit includes the materials you need to support a variety of activities, as well as a training video on DVD showing ways you might use the materials, a manual of suggested activities, PowerPoint presentations, and video clips.

Click here for an example of activities found in the ToolKits.

As long as you continue to log events using the ToolKits and other Night Sky Network Resources, your club is eligible to receive ToolKits.

Released ToolKits are:

  1. PlanetQuest Outreach ToolKit on the search for planets around other stars.
  2. Our Galaxy, Our Universe Outreach ToolKit on scale and distance in our Solar System, Galaxy, and universe.
  3. Black Hole Survival ToolKit on gravity and black holes.
  4. Telescopes: Eyes on the Universe on how telescopes work and common questions heard at the eyepiece.
  5. Shadows & Silhouettes on phases, eclipses, transits, and the NASA Kepler Mission.
  6. Exploring the Solar System on sizes, distances, and the NASA Solar System Exploration Missions.
  7. SUPERNOVA! on the lives of stars, cosmic radiation, and the role of supernovae in the universe.
  8. Glass & Mirrors: an Inside Look at Telescopes demonstrates how refractors and reflectors work
  9. Space Rocks: Asteroids, Comets, and Meteorites
  10. Life in the Universe: Are We Alone?
  11. Our Magnetic Sun

What is available on the Night Sky Network website?

For the best overview, watch the videos on About the Network.

Click here for the full list of NSN membership benefits.

The Night Sky Network website has several purposes:

  • For the public to find out about events you and other astronomy clubs are holding, to share these events with others, and to contact your astronomy club.
  • News is posted about upcoming events for NSN participants, like teleconferences with NASA scientists and special outreach opportunities
  • You can review what other clubs are doing for outreach
  • You report your outreach events and earn outreach recognition
  • Get help with the Outreach ToolKits
  • You can contact other Night Sky Network members either by email or on the Message Board
  • Access a variety of online activities to give you new ideas to enhance your astronomy events
NSN Club Coordinators can:
  • Manage your club calendar, request RSVPs from volunteers for events, track volunteer hours
  • Add new participants from your club
  • Manage your Membership Roster.
  • Include your club logo and club locations on your NSN Club Information page, such as where you hold club meetings and have public astronomy events.
  • Change logins and reset passwords of your club members
  • Change those assigned as the NSN Club Coordinators (you must have at least two)
  • Review events entered by your club members and approve them for scheduling on the Calendar
Participants and NSN Club Coordinators can:
  • Add events to your calendar: One of the NSN Club Coordinators must approve the event for it to be scheduled
  • Post photos from your events
  • Keep your online member information updated
  • Manage your RSVPs to events
  • Track your volunteer hours
  • Find and view events posted by your club and other clubs
  • Download a variety of resources for use in public events


Other

Who is sponsoring the Night Sky Network?

The Night Sky Network is sponsored and supported by the NASA/JPL Exoplanet Exploration public engagement program, publicly known as PlanetQuest. The Exoplanet Exploration Program encompasses several of the NASA extra-solar planet-finding missions, including the Keck Interferometer, the Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI), Kepler, and the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute.

Various other missions and projects have provided support.

I am not a member of an astronomy club. What can I do?

If you are not a member of an amateur astronomy club and want to become involved, use Find Clubs to find the nearest club that is a member of the Night Sky Network.

Use the displayed club contact information to find out how to join.

Search for and download a variety of Astronomy Activities for use with the public.

Search for astronomy events in your community.

I still have questions ...

Contact us through this online form or click on "Contact" below.

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