Annual Report 1997
Reports of the Kingston Centre Executive and Committee Chairs
This has been a very busy year for the Kingston Centre. Not only did we have wonderful speakers at our regular meetings, many of them drawn from our own membership, but also we hosted the Annual General Assembly of the RASC. More about that below.
Astronomy Day this year was terrific, held in the main court of the Cataraqui Town Centre. We had lot's of people to help, lot's of displays to show and lot's of people to look. A big thank - you goes to Cathy Hall for her organization of this event. She even got our pictures in the "Journal" and "Sky News". The evening public observing was arranged in conjunction with Queen's University at Kingston Field. Thank -you Judith Irwin and Kathy Parrett for taking this on.
Several new groups started up this year, as part of the Kingston Centre. We now have an active Telescope Maker's Group thanks to a donation of many telescope parts. Several brave souls took on grinding, polishing and constructing a new 8" telescope for Centre use. The group is growing and there are more mirror blanks to process. The new 'scope should be in circulation before the end of the calendar year.
An Observer's Group also got a start this summer. It meets the Friday or Saturday near the new moon each month. The group is open to any RASC Kingston member and their guests and meetings are held at different member's homes each month. Check the schedule for a place near you. :-)
There seems to be a great deal of interest in radio astronomy within the Centre. Who knows, we might have a group of Radio Astronomers very soon. A Youth Group is also in the works.
Many of our members took astronomy to the public this year. Vic Smida and Laura Gagne were driving forces behind an astronomy club at La Salle S.S. Dieter Bruekner organized several sessions at the elementary school his children attend. Others assisted Terence Dickinson at Charleston Lake, joined with the Trenton group at both Bon Echo and Sand Banks Provincial Parks and spoke to local children's groups. Everyone who showed anyone the stars deserves a pat on the back. You never know when you are influencing someone for life.
The Queen's Observatory started a unique fundraising project this year. This is "Adopt a Star" and more information about this is available. The Centre adopted a star for Theo's daughter who was born on Astronomy Day this year. We would also like to adopt "Regulus" and will gladly accept donations to this end.
Judith Irwin also started a fireball hotline. This is a phone line for the general public to report fireball sightings. Centre members have volunteered to help follow up on phone calls received. If you are interested in this program, please contact Judith. Perhaps we can locate a meteorite one day. And then there was the last weekend in June.
Our General Assembly was very well attended with several people signing up who were not members of the RASC and one just happened to be in the residence and thought we looked interesting -- she ended up spending a very busy weekend. Thank - you to everyone who attended and especially to those who volunteered their time to make the weekend a success.
Each event had some aspect that will not be forgotten: Judith Irwin opening her lecture with a scene from "The Lion King"; Terence Dickinson's premier musical performance; the tall ships at Fort Henry; Peter and David with the "Stargazer's Lament"; the song contest; Leo and the Murphy slides; and not to be forgotten, "the body". ( are you of the body?) I'm sure I have missed some aspect that was especially memorable to you, but I couldn't possibly name them all.
Perhaps the greatest thrill for me at the GA was presenting Gene and Carolyn Shoemaker with the portraits I had painted of them.
In closing, I would like to express our sincere sense of loss over the death of Dr. Eugene Shoemaker. He seemed to be a friend in the making and he was taken from us too soon.
This has been an extraordinary year for Kingston Centre. The following report is a summary of some of the highlights of 1997.
In January some members of the club began to work on a new club telescope. The parts for the telescope were donated to the club by the widow of a fellow astronomer who had begun to grind his own mirror for an eight inch Dobsonian mounted telescope. Upon his passing, his wife, Marion Fitzgerald, generously donated all of the parts to build the telescope. Since the group began meeting its numbers have grown as our 'expert' telescope makers, Doug Angle and Tom Dean, show more of us the fine art of mirror grinding and woodworking. Yes, there are power tools involved in astronomy too! Our new acquisition should be ready by the end of October and ready to be signed out by any member wishing to borrow it by November's meeting.
This year also started off with an active GA Committee working very hard to bring the National General Assembly of the Royal Astronomical Society to Kingston Centre. We had an incredible group of speakers from the United States and Canada including our own Judith Irwin, Martin Duncan, Askel Hallin, Terence Dickinson and David Levy as well as Gene and Carolyn Shoemaker. Centre members were extremely friendly and went out of their way to make this GA the best ever. We were very privileged to have Gene Shoemaker share his latest research with us. Two weeks after the GA he was killed in a car accident in Australia where he was working on his theory that an impact crater in the Northern Territories of Australia is far older than what is currently believed. We were all very much saddened by the news and we have lost a superb scientist as well as a special friend.
Following the GA, many members decided to form an observing group since we have not done enough observing together. The purpose of this group is to encourage new stargazers to continue looking up and to help them to learn the art of gazing. It is also hoped that veteran observers will continue to be a part of this group in order to help novices as well as to observe with friends. So far there have been three of these meetings which have been great fun for everyone in spite of unfavourable weather. The observers meet at the homes of various members with dark sky sites around the time of the new moon. All members are welcome whether they bring telescopes, binoculars, or their own two eyes. Interested members should consult the Regulus for dates, locations and directions.
The club is also working on public awareness of astronomy through education, publicity of centre meetings and events and Bill Broderick's Light Pollution campaign. A new youth group is about to be formed to include some of our younger members in the fascinating hobby of astronomy. Vic Smida has continued to foster interest in astronomy at the high school where he teaches physics by forming an active astronomy club. He meets with students weekly at lunch hour to discuss various topics of interest to them as well as taking them out to look through his telescope when the weather permits. Dieter Bruekner also continues to bring astronomy to the youth at the school his children attend. He has formed a junior astronomy club which meets in the evenings to learn about the universe. He also enlists members of the RASC Kingston Centre who own telescopes to help him with his evening star parties for the school. Other members have also been active working with local youth groups and other organizations bringing astronomy to the public. Once again, our Astronomy Day display at Kingston's largest mall was a tremendous success thanks to Cathy Hall who organized it, Christine Kulyk who advertised it, all the members who participated and Comet Hale-Bopp who stimulated public interest in the sky.
Membership has been steadily increasing over the past several months and our numbers continue to climb. It seems that every week I have been sending out new member kits. The kits have been updated to include star charts, a moon map, internet astronomy addresses and many other things of interest to new members. Astronomy is a very diverse field and we have people representing almost every aspect of the science in our club. Our monthly meetings have been reflecting this fact very well. We have had talks about archaeoastronomy, the connection between astrology and astronomy, imaging in astronomy (making models from radio observations), radio astronomy, the dynamics of the sun and terrestrial glaciation, teaching astronomy, and many other interesting topics too numerous to mention.
The year ended with the announcement that our centre has received a special grant from the Government of Ontario to organize a youth group with the purpose of encouraging young people to choose careers in space and related sciences. Work on this group has already begun and is in the planning stages. The group will be for all area youth between the ages of 13 and 24 years and membership in the society is not necessary. This initiative is part of our public service. There is no time like the present to turn the minds of out children to the exploration and conquest of space as we sit on the brink of the millennium.
This year has certainly been a very busy and productive year for the centre. Our members are full of enthusiasm and energy as they carry out the Centre's mission to bring astronomy to the public and to encourage members to pursue their interests. If every centre in the RASC had a year as successful as we have had, then the future certainly looks bright for astronomy in general and the RASC in particular.
Laura Gagne, Secretary
Report missing (web only).