You are here

2002

Annual Report 2002

Reports of the Kingston Centre Executive and Committee Chairs

President Vice President Secretary Treasurer
Librarian Editor National Council Rep
ATM Awards Education Light Pollution
Publicity Website Observing

President

This has been a very busy and productive year for the Kingston Centre as we continue in our mission to foster interest in astronomy and its related sciences. We have tried to keep a balance between reaching out to the public and keeping our own members excited about their hobby, and looking back over the year, it seems we have accomplished this. This is not the effort of any one person, least of all the president of the centre. Many tireless members have made significant contributions to our centre and I am indebted to all of them.

Our Vice President, Paul Winkler, managed to line up a very impressive group of speakers to inform and entertain us at our regular meetings. Tom Dean faithfully headed down to Murney park every month when the weather cooperated and showed the public the stars. Hank Bartlett, Vic Smida, Steve Hart, Kevin Kell and Barb Holt were among the regular attendees at these events and many other centre members joined them when they were able. We also had several "private" observing events held at the homes of some of our members. Most recently we had a social event (without telescopes, if you can imagine that) at the lovely new home of Kevin Kell and Kim Hay. Of course, some of us did go off in the wrong direction to see the harvest moon rising and managed to get ourselves lost in the woods. When we finally got back to the house, we saw the moonrise perfectly from the back deck...but we did have a nice walk! Jan Wiesnewski also held regular monthly meetings of a growing CCD group at his home. The CCD group has now begun to build their own CCD cameras, so even in the cloudy season, there will be action in this group. Jan and his wife are at this moment, as I write, expecting the birth of their second child. Keep an eye on Regulus for the announcement!

The centre boasted a large delegation at both the Montreal GA and at Starfest this summer. Pictures (incriminating and otherwise) are available on our website in case you want to see for yourself what a fun bunch of people you share a hobby with. We also had a great time at Mark Kaye's observatory in August, with former Queen's professor Larry Widrow as the mystery speaker. Susan will have more details in her report, I'm sure. In September, the annual "Fall n Stars" starparty was held once more at the Vanderwater Conservation Area together with the Belleville Astronomy Club. This year the weather was perfect and there was a spectacular aurora to top things off. It looks like this little event is becoming a tremendous success, thanks to Kevin Kell and his helpers. Speaking of aurora, Kim Hay has set up an aurora hotline for members interested in receiving and making phonecalls when aurorae are spotted. So far we have had two such occasions. If this interests you, then check out the website for more information.

In bringing astronomy to the public, we had a wonderful display at Frontenac Mall this year for Astronomy Day. The chief organizer was Kim Hay, and the event was a tremendous success. People are beginning to look for us each year in local malls. Following the display, the new 24-inch telescope was officially named the "Robert Venor Telescope" after the man who generously bequeathed it to us. Since first light, the telescope has accompanied us to major events such as Starfest, Terry Dickinson's Stargaze and Fall n Stars to name a few. It is our pride and joy, and you can find out lots more by visiting our website where we have a photogallery of its birth and early life. The next major public event was the Sky is The Limit Festival in City Park. This has become a regular event for our center that allows us to take our own message to the public (ie. Look up and say 'wow'), as well as helping local charities to raise funds. We also made our presence felt at Charleston Lake for Terry Dickinson's public stargazing. Many members came out with their equipment and made the evening memorable for both young and old. Our "Venor" had many friends of like aperature as the telescopes get larger and larger every year. Hundreds of people climbed the ladder for a look, and a few came by the smaller telescopes as well. In January our meetings moved to Stirling Hall, the physics building at Queen's University. It is a beautiful and newly renovated lecture theatre that comfortably seats hundreds of people, and it is close to the astronomy department. Since that time our regular attendance at meetings seems to have increased. Hopefully we will attract some university students to join our dynamic, energetic group. Certainly it will be a lot easier for the professors at Queen's to come in and give us talks. Another great benefit is the beautiful display of antique physics and chemistry equipment that graces the foyer of Stirling Hall. There are even a couple of telescopes in the case.

In the very near future we are hoping to find some land on which to build a permanent observatory. Ken Kingdon has been working tirelessly to find some place with a good sky, but so far we are still in need of a generous benefactor. We have one of the largest telescopes owned by a center of the RASC, but we are one of the only centers without an observatory. This is our future dream, but at least we made the Venor portable (well, sort of...). Until then, we continue in our mission to share our passion for astronomy with the world. Perhaps if everyone looked up and out across the vastness of space they might realize how very precious our little blue planet and its inhabitants really are. Then maybe there would be more hope and wonder in the world.

Laura Gagné
President, Kingston Centre

Vice President

Report missing (web only).

Secretary

At the time of the preparation of this report, the Kingston Centre looks forward to electing a new executive and celebrating the end of another busy year. The major focus of excitement this year has been the completion of the Centre's 61-cm Venor scope. An enthusiastic and talented group has laboured for 3 years to produce this beautiful instrument. Superb optics and portable! (It takes only 1 to 6 people to move it, depending on the grade.) Kingston area weather continues to be less than observer friendly and a large number of the monthly sessions scheduled at member homes have been clouded out. In an effort to ease the frustration, several members have spent considerable time and effort in conducting a search for a permanent dark-sky observing site, and some good spots were found. The Centre hopes that this search will yield a permanent observatory site.

A rapidly developing skill in the Kingston Centre is the production of cookbook CCD cameras. The CCD observing group has taken up this pursuit in earnest.

Public events were very successful this year and Astronomy Day was a great lesson in quantity vs. quality. Choice of location is always the dilemma when it comes to public events and sometimes high-traffic levels of a frantic nature often result in fewer meaningful contacts. Astronomy Day was preceded by a week of public observing and ended with the first public appearance of the Venor scope.

July's major public event is the local charity fundraiser "The Sky is the Limit Festival" and the turnout was good although solar viewing got off to a slow start due to heavy haze from Quebec forest fires.

The Charleston Lake Provincial Park night with Terry Dickinson was a great time. There were line-ups at the smallest of scopes, but when the voices dropped the prevalent sound was that of observers climbing up and down aluminum ladders to the big scopes.

The Annual Fall'N'Stars Dark Sky Camping and Observing weekend was also deemed a success. This event is a cooperative effort of the Kingston Centre and the Belleville Astronomy Club. It is held in September, north of Belleville. A stunningly colourful aurora display featured prominently on the Saturday evening.

Observing and Bar-B-Queing are a popular combination and there were several such events this year, perhaps because you can Bar-B-Que in the rain. Monthly public observing downtown continues to draw respectable numbers, often in spite of the weather.

The Centre is enjoying a new meeting room in the Astronomy and Physics building, Stirling Hall. Here is a list of talks presented:

February 8 Dr. Tom Dean "Introduction to Predicting Satellite Apparitions using Orbital Elements"
March 15 Rocky Persaud "Mars on Earth, the Devon Island Research Lab"
April 12 Dr. Brian Hunter "Observing Earth Satellites"
May 13 Dr. David Levy "What the RASC-Kingston Centre Tucson Branch has been up to"
June 14 FLA County Science Fair presenters
July 12 Fred Barrett "Observatory Building and Other Projects"
August 16 Annual Markfest with guest speaker, Dr. Larry Widrow "Dark Matter Research: M31"
Sept 13 Attila Danko "How to Forecast Observing Conditions - the Sky Clock"

There were a few more members' nights for shorter presentations this year since evenings with invited speakers leave little time for this. Fundraising draws continue at every meeting due to a steady supply of homemade wine with the much-coveted event related labels, as well as numerous other member donations.

The Education Committee has produced a new edition of the secondary-school teachers' guide to astronomy "Expanding Their Universe." The sale of this and the grade-6 book "Worlds to Discover" and their accompanying slide sets have been a major fundraising activity for the Centre as well as a tool for the promotion of astronomy.

As we approach 2003, Kingston faces challenges similar to other Centres, i.e. the expansion of the active volunteer base while fighting burnout in the terminally committed. One strategy to be examined is to split committee chairs that have become too successful to survive. We invite you to check our progress now and then through our newsletter, Regulus, or the Centre Web site.

This is my last report as Secretary and I would like to say how much I have enjoyed the last three years. I thank the Kingston members for giving me this opportunity and I wish my successor as rewarding an experience.

Susan Gagnon
Secretary, Kingston Centre

Treasurer

Enter all amounts rounded off to the nearest dollar.

REVENUE

Membership Fees (Regular) 3098.00
Membership Fees (Basic surcharge) 867.00
Membership Fees (Special surcharge) 60.00
Life Members Grants 141.00
Donations 446.00
Fundraising 313.00
Educational Activities 860.00
Interest and Dividends 3.00
Sale of Handbooks (Net) 84.00
Sale of National Calendars (Net) 745.00
Sale of Beginner's Observing Guides (Net) 35.00
Advertising 0.00
General Assembly (Including Travel Grants) 0.00
Miscellaneous: 1759.00
TOTAL REVENUE 8411.00
EXPENDITURES
Fees Remitted to National Office 98.00
Library 363.00
Meetings 153.00
Newsletter 1388.00
Annual Dinner (Net) 1033.00
General Assembly (Including Travel Grants) 0.00
Equipment and Supplies 906.00
Office Administration 255.00
General Expenses and Audit 93.00
Educational Activities 712.00
Insurance 0.00
Awards and Donations 118.00
Observatory 1836.00
Miscellaneous 1978.00
TOTAL EXPENDITURES 8933.00
SURPLUS OR DEFICIT ON OPERATIONS - 522.00
BANK BALANCE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR 15,572.00
BANK BALANCE TO END OF THIS YEAR 15,050.00

Librarian

  1. Access:-
    The centre's collection is at the home of the librarian. So that people can see and borrow materials a book bag will be brought to each meeting at Stirling Hall. The selection will be changed monthly.
     
    The sign out sheet will still be used to keep track of the items borrowed.
     
    The centre web site has a soon to be again updated, though not as yet complete, listing of the library holdings.
     
    You can review the listing online and make requests of me by telephone or e-mail. These contacts are in the newsletter.
  2. Additions:-
    This year we have continued to receive newsletters from other centres.
    These have the stories of developments in other centres and technical articles on various topics.
     
    At the May meeting David Levy signed all of the books in the centre's library which he had authored or edited. He also contributed two more books.

Members are encouraged to look at the library resources and use them for reference and for help in choosing their own book purchases.

David Maguire
Librarian, Kingston Centre

Editor

This year has shown membership averaging around 150, a little lower than 2001. We published 200 copies of Regulus every odd month. Even numbered month's issues of Regulus are in electronic format only and are available on our website. In addition to our members, a copy goes out to each of the RASC centres (265) across Canada and about 6 special interest groups/people, including Andreas Gada (NYAA), Terry Dickinson, the Peterborough Astronomy Group and others.

We continued to mail out the newsletter at least 1 week before every other meeting, in hopes that it will reach them before the meeting for time sensitive material.

For those interested in background information, the newsletter is exactly 10 pages (5 pieces of paper), which fits just under the 30g limit of Canada Post for a standard stamp. Going even one page over would roughly double postage costs.

The format of the newsletter itself reflects the method in which it is created: several standard columns which may or may not get articles submitted, a great deal of Internet Space and Astronomy Press releases (which are removed as regular submissions come in), some graphics and a few photos. Our printing and duplication methods (at around $0.05/image) do not provide high enough quality for photos, especially astrophotos, so until we can come up with something better without a large price increase, the format will stay much the same as it is today.

Kevin Kell, Editor 2002

National Council Rep

Report missing (web only).

Web Operations

We have a free Internet account with Internet Kingston, a local ISP in Kingston, as we are a local charitable organization. We are allowed 4 Mb of space at http://members.kingston.net/rasc . We are not allowed any other special services (a "secure" web page, or more space) without money changing hands. All we are required to do is have the little blurb at the bottom of the main web page ("webspace provided by Internet Kingston") and it should continue to run as long as the company is in business or changes it's policy. The worth of this service in todays market is approx $25/month (A personal user account) or about $300/year.

Because of these restrictions, and the availability of other web servers of one of our members, we have only the core web pages on Internet Kingston, with links to more on another system. This machine is 130.15.144.99 (hardware provided by Kevin Kell and internet access by the Department of Pathology) and hosts the secure web pages, which allows for userid/password access only to members. The hardware is an old Pentium2-500 class system which I have donated to the RASC-KC and if I can no longer provide the internet access, the computer will be transferred to the Centre to be located elsewhere. This is where we store complete copies of Regulus (with phone numbers and addresses), Observing Group directions to members homes, financial information from the Centre and National, and membership lists. It has a regular "insecure" section where the vast volume of images are located.

At present this excess web space is provided at no charge thanks to the Department of Pathology and Queen's University. They will however, continue only as long as I remain employed there. In anticipation of a move, CDROM's have been burned as backup copies of the web site and distributed to Kim Hay (webmistress) and Laura Gagné (Education Chair). Other CDROM backups will be made at least once a year.

National office has provided a forwarding page that we can use on all future advertising and publications: http://www.rasc.ca/kingston This has many advantages over publishing the actual address, ie if we ever have to move the site (which we have 3 times in the past 5 years), the title "members" (in http://members.kingston.net/rasc/") sometimes confuses members of the public, thinking that it might be a RASC-members-only web site, which it is not.

Web Page design philosophy has been that of informative and useful content overriding that of heavy graphics laden "pretty" pages. The main page remained a frames based one design. In general the site or various pages are updated on a weekly basis.

Kevin Kell, Webmaster 2002

Observing Group

Report missing (web only).

Amateur Telescope Making Group

Report missing (web only).

Awards Group

Report missing (web only).

Publicity Group

Report missing (web only).

Education Group

Report missing (web only).

Light Pollution Abatement

Report missing (web only).

Theme by Danetsoft and Danang Probo Sayekti inspired by Maksimer