Annual Report 1998
Reports of the Kingston Centre Executive and Committee Chairs
It's hard to believe that yet another full year has passed. It's been a busy one. Astronomy is gaining in popularity amongst the general public and our contacts are becoming more important all the time. We were out in the public more this year than many previous years. There was Astronomy Day, at the Cataraqui Town Centre, with lot's of people and lot's of help. We received a summons to appear at Grass Creek Park to help the OPP with a fundraiser. We demonstrated telescope making, showed off some sun spots and generally answered questions. We were set up right next to the dunk tank, too. I hope no one got any ideas. We also hosted a Barbeque with our Youth Group, held at Rotary Park, and this was well attended. Some people even came back after dark so that they could observe with us. Then there have been Open Houses at Queen's Observatory, Science Quest, Charleston Lake and other places where we help others with our telescopes. Our Observing Chair has even organized monthly public sessions both in the evening and in daylight at a downtown site. We began a Youth Group this year, with the help of government funding. This funding required that we emphasize careers in Astronomy and related sciences. In the meantime, we talk and do interesting things with astronomy. The Youth Group speakers have included, Dr. Judith Irwin, Dr. Martin Duncan, Dr. Jill Tarter of the Phoenix Project, Terence Dickinson, Brenda Shaw, Laura Gagne, Denise Sabatini, Leo Enright and others. There have been field trips as well. Leo lead a trip to Holleford Crater, the barbeque has been mentioned above, and we are heading to the National Museum of Science and Technology this month. It's been a lot of fun with young people aged between ten and twenty four years old. We plan on keeping it running for next year. The Amateur Telescope Maker's group has also been running well. A second telescope is almost completed ( it's being aluminized now ) which will bring our Centre total to three. They also purchased back the grinding machine that we had sold to North York Astronomical Society and it is available for all who wish access to it. The Observer's Group continued to meet this year. We have done a little better than last year for clear skies. Ken Kingdon bagged his last Messier at Laura's place. Even if it is cloudy, the get togethers are fun. Public observing has been organized and we have committed to sponsor four public nights during the year at Charleston Lake, outside of the night we help Terence Dickinson. We also had a Future Committee struck and discussed where we would like to go with the Centre. The gist of that meeting was to continue to support public education in a big way, perhaps even present 'in-service' for elementary and secondary teachers. We also have long term planning sites on a big telescope, preferably with remote connections. Doing some research was also a possible direction. Our regular meetings have been well attended. All our speakers but December's have come from the Centre itself. Csar has been a welcome addition as have Hank's liquid donations for raffle and the other donated raffle items. December will mark our First Annual Award Banquet, organized by Kim Hay. The speaker will be Joady Ulrich from the Windsor Centre. Individuals within the Centre have been very busy as well. One of our Youth Group, Dustin Freeman, ( who are not officially RASC at this time ) placed second in the Mars Society's First Annual Writing Contest. David Pianosi and Ken Kingdon have both earned Messier Certificates. And our Honorary President has had at least two books published this year, has his own website, and won an Emmy!
Congratulations to all.
Clear Skies, Peggy Hurley
Thus ends a year in the life of Kingston Centre.
Laura Gagne, Secretary
Report missing (web only).
NC Meeting Reports:
Regulus, 1998 Mar-Apr, page 6 (1st NC meeting).
Regulus, 1998 May-Jun, page 5 (1st NC meeting).
Regulus, 1998 Jul-Aug, pp. 5-7 (2nd, 3rd, AGM meetings).
Regulus, 1998 Sep-Oct, pp. 5-7 (2nd, 3rd, AGM meetings). Regulus, 1998 Nov-Dec, pp. 6-7 (4th NC meeting).
- January: Kingston Centre formed a youth group for people between the ages of 13 and 24 years old. A grant was received from the Lennox & Addington, Frontenac, Leeds & Grenville Training Board to allow us to operate for one year, provided that we focus on careers in space and publish a booklet to be distributed to area high schools. Laura Gagne and Brenda Shaw chaired the group, and the booklet was written by Laura Gagne and given to our newsletter guru, Kevin Kell for publishing. It will be released to the schools in early 1999. The Centre's regular meeting was cancelled due to Ice Storm '98, which hit the area the Wednesday evening/Thursday morning before the meeting was scheduled. Some of us were without power for 10 days! It was great for fighting the light pollution problem, except that the moon was full and it was cloudy most of the time. Two days after the ice storm, a blizzard struck Kingston so we were also buried in snow. I doubt any of us will ever forget the experience.
- February: The first actual meeting of the new youth group was held this month. Laura Gagne talked about how to buy binoculars and telescopes, Brenda Shaw showed slides of objects that could be found with binoculars or modest telescopes, and the group toured the Queen's University Observatory. The meetings of the youth group were held on the last Saturday of each month. The regular centre meeting was held on the second Friday evening as usual. The speaker was National President Doug George who showed us his CCD imagery techniques. His work is absolutely incredible, and he held the centre members spellbound throughout his presentation.
- March: Centre Life Member Valia Krotkov passed away. I went to a memorial service held for her on the date of the summer Solstice. After hearing testimonials from friends and family members I deeply regret that I had never had the chance to meet this remarkable woman. Astronomy has lost a dear friend. The speaker for the youth meeting was Dr. Judith Irwin, a radio astronomer from Queen's University. The speaker for the regular centre meeting was Ms. Kendra Angle who showed us her newly constructed telescope. She presented a slide show of her work in progress, as well as showing us the telescope she designed and built herself. The design for her mount was adopted by the Centre's telescope making group for their most recent 8-inch telescope project. Kendra won the gold medal in the local science fair for her efforts. She then went on to win 2nd place in optics in an international competition in Montreal this summer. You can read more about Kendra's telescope in the October Journal.
- April: The speaker for the youth group was Christine Marton from the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space. She talked about the future of Canadians in Space. The speaker for the regular centre meeting was Mark Kaye who showed us his life in astronomy. Mark showed us several of the observatories, telescopes and gadgets he has built over his lifetime in the hobby. He has done an incredible amount of work in such a short time span!
- May: Astronomy day was held on May 2nd, at Cataraqui Town Centre, Kingston's largest mall. As usual, Cathy Hall did a fabulous job in the planning and execution of this major event. She even managed to convince the mall that we were not the Royal Astrological Society (teeth grinding). The regular meeting was a telescope clinic. Tom Dean, Doug Angle and Mark Kaye helped members with the cleaning, operation and collimation of their telescopes. The speaker for the youth group was Terence Dickinson. He spoke about his career as well as his personal journey in astronomy.
- June: The speaker for the youth group was Dr. Martin Duncan; a planetary scientist from Queen's University. The speaker for the regular meeting was Peggy Hurley who talked about Solstice celebrations and other rituals connected with astronomical events. She focused on Stonehenge and other ancient observatories.
- July: The centre participated in a fundraising event for the Ontario March of Dimes called "The Sky is the Limit Festival." Hundreds of people stopped by to chat and to look at sunspots, the last quarter moon and Venus. We were sunburnt and tired, but happy to have been able to share the sky with the public. The speaker for the youth group was the editor of the Beginner's Observing Guide; Mr. Leo Enright. There was a field trip to the Holleford Crater. The speaker for the regular meeting was Laura Gagne who talked about Black Holes, Wormholes and the possibility of time travel.
- August: The youth group had a "mini starfest" BBQ and fun day with observing in the evening. It was actually clear that night too! The regular meeting was held at the observatory of Mark Kaye and took the form of a very successful BBQ and observing session. He showed us his CCD equipment and gave us a great demonstration until a thunderstorm encouraged us to take the equipment indoors. At the end of the month (August 26th, to be exact) the centre helped Terence Dickinson with his annual public star party held at Charleston Lake. Everything cooperated this year, even the most spectacular aurora ever seen in the area in living memory.
- September: The youth group spoke to Dr. Jill Tarter in Melbourne Australia via teleconference. She was in the middle of an international conference on the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), presenting recent developments in project Phoenix, the most ambitious search so far. She is the director of the project. The regular meeting was members' night, when centre members have a chance to show off their projects. Tom Dean showed us two new barn door designs and Frank Hutchins showed us a barn door device he created from old telescope drive controls (you can see it in the astronomy day write-up in the October Journal). Kim Hay gave us a slide tour of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Greenbank West Virginia where she spent a recent holiday. Kevin Kell showed us a series of blackmail slides of centre activities at Grass Greek Park (Sky is the Limir Festival) and Starfest.
- October: The centre held a special public stargazing event on the shores of Lake Ontario. Attendance was poor, but organizers attribute that to the spooky dark shapes that astronomers make in public places. Flashing lights helped alleviate that problem at future sessions. The centre also helped Queen's observatory with their monthly open house (first one held this month). We provided "sidewalk" astronomy, which attracted about 100 passersby. The speaker at the youth meeting was Ms. Denise Sabatini who spoke about archaeoastronomy, especially about Mesoamerican astronomers. The speaker for the regular meeting was Mt Tim Seitz who talked about the role of comets and meteors in shaping the Earth's climate.
- November: The elections were held for the regular meeting. The youth group had a field trip to the National Museum of Science and Technology in Ottawa. The centre held another public star night at the Lake and also helped Queen's Observatory with another open house. Attendance improved at both events, most likely due to public anticipation as well as the keen flashing red lights Kevin set up around the telescopes.
- December: There was no youth group meeting, as it would have been the The regular meeting was canceled, being replaced by the first annual banquet and awards night. It was a wonderful evening, with guest speaker Joady Ulrich who spoke about how the Hubble Space Telescope has dramatically increased our view of the Universe in which we live. The A. Vibert Douglas Award for service to the centre (or astronomy in general) was given to the organizer of the 1997 GA; Mrs. Peggy Hurley. The Achievement Award for outstanding work in astronomy was given to Miss Kendra Angle for the construction of her telescope which appeared in the October Journal. Messier Certificates were awarded to Ken Kingdon and David Pianosi. Membership certificates were given to Gerald Schieven (1983), David Stokes and Bill Broderick (1994), and Warren Morrison, Kim Hay, Ruth Hicks, Peggy Hurley, Susan Gagnon, Kevin Kell, Sue Knight-Sorensen, Walter MacDonald, Dieter Brueckner, and Peter Kirk. Honorary President, David Levy, also received an Emmy Award for his recent documentary "Three Minutes to Impact" (Hooray for David!).