National Young Astronomer Award

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The National Young Astronomer Award (NYAA) was established in 1993 by former Astronomical League President Chuck Allen and later with the help of former AL President Bog Gent to recognize the outstanding astronomical research achievements of high-school-age students throughout the United States. The NYAA is sponsored by Explore Scientific.


The Application and Award

Applicants must be eligible young astronomers who have submitted an application package to the Astronomical League by the deadline, January 31st of each year.

The package will consist of a completed application form, a well-documented astronomy project of the applicant's own work, a summary of astronomy-related activities, and optional exhibits.

It is recommended that applicants be members of the Astronomical League, either through an astronomy club or a youth member-at-large membership. A team of professional astronomers judge the entries.

The Award Plaque

Special plaques are presented to the first, second and third place winners at ALCon, the league's national convention each summer. Announcements regarding the top finishers will also be submitted to the major national astronomy magazines, the League's quarterly magazine, The Reflector and to the top finishers' local news media.

McDonald Observatory Lifetime Passes

The University of Texas McDonald Observatory presents "lifetime passes" to the top finishers. This award enables winners to share telescope time with professional astronomers at the observatory.

The Award Telescope

The first-place winner receives the official telescope of the NYAA, an ED127 Air-Spaced Triplet Apochromatic Refractor from Explore Scientific who is the official underwriter of this award program. The winner also receives an all-expenses-paid trip to the Leagues national convention (ALCon) to receive the award.


  • 1993 - Blake Warren Thomas; Edgewood, New Mexico; “Spectrographic Analysis of Cepheid Pulsation”
  • 1994 - Stephanie C. Cinereski; Gainesville, Florida; “Solar Flare and Sunspot Research”
  • 1995 - Heather E. Castellano; St. Hedwig, Texas; “Elements of Impact Crater Formation”
  • 1996 - Mani S. Mahjouri; Columbia, Maryland; “Simulation of Charged Particle Motion in Jupiter’s Magnetosphere”
  • 1997 - Heather Cameron; Greenwich, Nova Scotia; “Solar Observation Station”
  • 1998 - Mary Dombrowski; Glastonbury, Connecticut; “Cataclysmic Stellar Variability with Eclipsing Binary Superimposition”
  • 1999 - Elizabeth Fernandez; Albuquerque, New Mexico; “Active Galaxies in the Perseus Supercluster”
  • 2000 - Patrick L. Kelly; Washington, DC; “The Color-Magnitude Relation in Hickson Compact Group 62”
  • 2001 - Susannah C. Lazar; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; “Performed Photometry of Many Asteroids”
  • 2002 - Albert King Lin; Fresh Meadows, New York; “A Survey of the public Chandra Data Archive (CDA) in Search of Serendipitous X-ray Pulsars: A Systematic Approach”
  • 2003 - Maxwell Cassady Moe; Fort Collins, Colorado; “Demographic and Atmospheric Effects on the Quality of the Night Sky”
  • 2004 - John Davis; Penfield, New York; “Built a Research Grade Observatory From Scratch”
  • 2005 - Christopher Limbach; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; “Light Curve Analysis of Eclipsing Binary Star EP Aurigae”
  • 2006 - 1. Mary Masterman; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; “Investigating Stars and Nebulae Through the Construction of an Astronomical Spectrograph.” 2.Daniel Handlin; Lincroft, New Jersey; “An Empirical Determination of the Effect of Atmospheric Drag on Orbital Decay” 3.Benjamin Jones; Helotes, Texas; “Achieving Equal Light Distribution: Creating Effective Outdoor Lighting Modifications: A Second Year Project”
  • 2007 - Naomi Pequette; Littleton, Colorado; “The Orion Nebula: A Good Contender for Housing an “Earth-like” Planet”
  • 2008 - John Hodge II; Columbia, South Carolina; “Light Curve Analysis of Cataclysmic Variable Star Systems: Cam Var 06, FS Aur, HT Cas, IP Peg, and EQ Aqr” Honorable Mention: Lara Knorek; Kalamazoo, Michigan; Neil Pearson; Evergreen, Colorado
  • 2009 - 1. Harry Gaebler; Bloomington, Indiana; “A Study of the Correlation Between Spiral Galaxy Distance and Morphology Using both Redshift and Extended Object Photometry” 2.Jordan Bramble; Virginia Beach, Virginia’ “Asteroid Research Using the Fan Mountain Observatory Rapid Response Robotic Telescope” 3. Gayathri Cheran; Burke, Virginia; “A Study of the Abundance of Wolf Rayet Stars”
  • 2010 - 1. Andrew Hitchner; Norristown, Pennsylvania; “A Study in Stellar Spectroscopy” 2.Tongji "Youyou" Li; Hershey, Pennsylvania; “Will Humans Become Extinct Like the Dinosaurs Did?” 3.Erika Tinley; Tucson, Arizona; “The Geometry of Active Galactic Nuclei as Evidenced by Their Emission Line Spectra”
  • 2011 - 1. Benjamin Clark; Millersville, Pennsylvanial; "The Close Binary Fraction: A Bayesian Analysis of SDSS M Dwarf Spectra" 2. Travis Le; 3. Kaitlyn Regan
  • 2012 - 1. Justin Tieman; Blue Springs, MO; "Alien Worlds; Space Rocks." 2. Travis Le; Honolulu, HI; "Determining 'Hot Spots' through Correlations of CMEs and Solar Flares."
  • 2013 - 1. Mark Morretto; Briarcliff Manor, NY; "Deep Impact Spectral Observations of Naturally Occurring Mini-Outbursts." 2. Henry Lin, Shreveport, LA; "Cool Bias in Sunyaer - Zel'dovich Galaxy Cluster Surveys."
  • 2014 - 1. Pranav Sivakumar; Barrington, IL; "Morphological Identification of Wide-Separation Gravitationally Lensed Quasars." 2. Katie Shen; Sterling, VA; "Census of HII Regions in SDSS."
  • 2015 - 1. Theodora Mautz 2. Sydney Marler

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