The AAAA and the Story County Conservation Board host monthly educational programs for the public from January to November. Meetings are on the 3rd Saturday of each month, except December, starting at 7:00 PM. We congregate at 7 PM for a Meet and Greet with the meeting starting at 7:30.  Visitors are encouraged to join us. A list of the programs for this year can be found below.

All programs will be held at the Story County Conservation Center at McFarland Park unless noted otherwise in the program for that month. Presentations are subject to change.  Afterwards, weather and and sunset permitting, we will move to the club's Observatory located just East of the Story County Conservation Center for astronomical observing. Telescopes and binoculars will be available for your viewing pleasure.

At each of our meetings we include a short description of a few of the astronomical sights that can be seen during the coming month.

    MEETINGS FOR 2016  
Jan 16 The Search for Life - Part 1: The Search for Habitable Planets Probably everyone raised on a diet of science fiction has, from time to time, looked up at the night sky and wondered whether there might be some kind of life, whether simple or complex, around the distand stars.  After untold generations of the idel dreaming, mankind is finally attempting to find out.

The first confirmed planet outside of our solar system was identified in 1988; it was a brown dwarf.  We are now finding exoplanets of various sorts on a regular basis. But are any of them habitable? And how would we know? In this presentation, we will consider the characteristics needed for habitability and review our progress (and challenges) in finding habitability beyond earth.

In Part II of "The Search for Life" (in February), we will look at ways to determine whether lie could actually be present on these exoplanets.  We will also look at attempts to find extraterrestrial intelligence.
Feb 20 The Search for Life - Part II: The Search for Life and ET Determining that a planet or moon is "habitable" does not mean that life is actually present.  In Part II of this two-part series we will look at the chances that life could exist beyond earth and explore how we would find out.

Mars and some of the moons in our solar system have the potential to have (or have had) life.  Can we find evidence of life 9or past life) on them? What do we need to do the find out?  What about outside our solar system? Most supposedly "habitable" exoplanets we will likely find will be much, much too far away for us to explore at any time in the foreseeable future.  Are there any biomarkers we coulddetect from our perch here on earth that would indicate the presence of life elsewhere? What would it take to do this?

Finally, the ultimate question, is there any intelligent, technological life out there? What are we doing to try to find out? Or perhaps a better question is: do we really want to know?  Join us for an intriguing (and sometimes bizarre) look at mankind's efforts to find life and intelligence beyond earth.
Mar19 Lightning and its Relationship to Cosmic Rays This meeting topic was postponed to April.  
Apr 16 How Lightening Gets Started No one is sure how lightning gets started, but one theory is that incoming cosmic rays from outer space serve as the trigger. We will explore the data supporting that theory. Come join us as Sam Wormley talks about this phenomenon.  
May 21 The UFO Enigma Beverly Trout is Assistant State Director for Iowa MUFON (Mutual UFO Network) and also serves as Chief Investigator for Iowa's nine investigators - 6 men and 3 women.  She approaches the subject of UFOs from the perspective of her 24 years experience investigating UFO reports.  She's been featured in radio and TV interviews, has spoken at various conferences in the U. S., and several of her articles have been featured in UFO publications.  She will present some basic information regarding UFOs, then tell about recent UFOsightings, as well as incidents of encounters with UFO occupants in Des Moines and other Iowa areas, including screen memory incidents.    Beverly will also touch on a few of the international cases she's handled.  She plans to talk for perhaps 25 minutes, then open the session to questions, comments and dialogue re UFOs, and looks forward to a highly interactive evening.  
June 18 Star-B-Q We will have our annual Star-B-Q.  The picnic will begin at 6 PM and the club will provide the meat and plasticware.  Please bring a side dish to share.  
July 16 Gravitational Waves Elwynn Taylor, a professor from Iowa State University will join us to talk about gravitational waves. This will include the theory from 100 years ago to the detection now and what it means. Elwynn is a friend with the person who developed the interferometer to detect the gravitational waves. Is this friend now set for a Nobel prize?  
Aug 20

Super Novas

These cosmic fireworks are the end of life for some stars and disburse the elements necessary for life into the cosmos.  Come and hear Rick Whitten relate how these stars evolve as we delve into the forces at work in the core of stars that shape our universe.

Sept 17 King of the Planets Join us as planetary scientist Evan Zerby flys us to the gas giant planet Jupiter with the Juno Spacecraft. Only the second probe to orbit Jupiter, will it answer the questions brought up by the Galileo probe? Sit back and enjoy the ride on Juno to Jupiter, "KING OF THE PLANETS".  
Oct  15 Variable Stars and Globular Clusters Jill Neeley who is a 4th year graduate student at ISU working with Massimo Marengo. She did her undergraduate work at Ithaca College in upstate New York.  She will be with us to discuss variable Stars and Globular Clusters.

RR Lyrae variables can be used as high precision distance indicators at infrared wavelengths via a relation between their period of variability and luminosity. I am working to provide the first calibration of this relation using observations of globular clusters and isolated stars from Spitzer Space Telescope. In this talk, I will discuss the process of extracting high precision photometry of stars in globular clusters, and employing them as cosmic yardsticks.
Nov 19 Carbon Stars Want to know what a carbon star is or why we care?  Come to our meeting in November and Ed Engle will regale you with all of the information you wanted to know about this class of stars.  
Dec 17 Christmas Party This is a party time for members.  
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