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Annual Report 1984

Reports of the Kingston Centre Executive and Committee Chairs

President Vice President Secretary Treasurer
Librarian Editor National Council Rep  


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Vice President

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Reflecting about our past year has made us realize how fortune has graced our Centre. It has been a year of celebration, achievement and success for our various members.

Dr. A.V. Douglas, who was the founder of our Centre, and is our Honorary President, has celebrated her 90th birthday. May we offer congratulations and best wishes to this distinguished scientist and astronomer. We are very proud to have her as part of our Centre.

Our Vice-President must have his head in the clouds. What? Another Comet! Congratulations, David Levy. What a personal triumph and a real thrill to have finally achieved a long sought dream -- your very own comet. Well deserved and warmest regards from our Centre.

Gus Johnson, our member in Maryland, has done it again. Already with one supernova to his credit he has now possibly discovered one more and only awaits its confirmation. Congratulations Mr. Johnson.

Participating members from the Kingston Centre on International Astronomy Day deserve full commendation for their volunteered efforts in making this one of our most successful activities of the year. We had a large display in a local shopping mall which included telescopes and other equipment, posters, literature of the Centre and Society, games, door prizes, a survey, arranged sunviewing sessions and a membership drive which resulted in six new members. Science writer, Terence Dickinson, joined our activities and autographed copies of his latest book, "Night Watch". Our day concluded with a public star night and the public turned out in enthusiastic numbers. We can be proud of our promotion of amateur astronomy.

Leo Enright has been the busiest person in the Centre. He deserves a big hand for his continued efforts as newsletter editor. As well as extensive observational reports at every meeting, Leo reported seeing the Space Shuttle from Sharbot Lake! As our most active member, Leo has given eight talks this year, conducted two guided tours of Holleford Crater, (Toronto and Syracuse Astronomy Club) and is preparing our Centre for viewing Halley's Comet.

Martyn McConnell, as part of his presidential duties, organized several "star nights" which allowed newer members to add to their list of "new objects" in the night sky. He formed a committee to address the problem of light pollution in our city. Through letters and talks with the city fathers, we are anticipating good results.

T.D. Hicks has been serving as our National Representative and has in large part been responsible for an amendment to our constitution approved at the G.A. this year.

The Centre wishes to gratefully acknowledge receipt of a book from Dr. A. Covington, listing the Riche-Covington collection at Queen's University.

Various members of our Centre took part in our evening presentations, as follows:

  1. Leo Enright, Lunar Astrophotography, Crater Beals; Safe Solar Observing and Demonstration on How to Use the Telescope for New Members; G.A. Report and Travelogue; Observing Sunspots; Amateur Planning to Observe Comet Halley; The 1985 Handbook: A Wealth of Information; Conjuctions of the Last Five Years.
  2. Martyn McConnell, Possibilities of Interstellar Flight, Extraterrestrial Civilizations
  3. Sue Knight Sorensen, Women in Astronomy from 5th Century B.C. to 1872; Report on Canadian Women Astronomers.
  4. T.D. Hicks, Principles and Uses of the Sextant as Used in Marine Navigation
  5. Mark Sorensen, The Shape of the Universe
  6. David M. Stokes, Probability of Viewing the Northern Lights During Magnetic Midnight

Special Guest Speakers:

  1. Franklin Loehde, The Edmonton Space Sciences Centre
  2. Dr. Richard Henriksen, Theories of the Early Universe
  3. Peter Jedicke, Io
  4. Terence Dickinson, Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope



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National Council Rep


The National Council of the R.A.S.C. met on Saturday, January 28th, 1984 in the Library of the Society's headquarters at 136 Dupont Street, Toronto. Mr. Franklin Loehde, the National President, chaired the meeting and ten Centres of the Society were represented.

The agenda included reports from officers and several of the standing committees as well as a number of significant decisions and announcements. Mr. Loehde reported that the legal firm which had been consulted concerning the Society's establishment of an endowment fund, as recommended at the last meeting of Council, saw no problem in the institution of such a fund and the measures suggested for its establishment seemed to be quite satisfactory. As a result, Council passed a motion to set up the fund, amalgamating the previously diverse funds (except the Ruth J. Northcott Memorial Fund which is under a separate trusteeship). Mrs. Fidler, our National Treasurer, reported that Mr. Morris Altman, who has served as Auditor for the Society for many years, had indicated that his schedule would not allow him to complete an audit of the Society's finances before March 1, 1984 as was required, and as a result, by a motion of Council, the Finance Committee was instructed to appoint an auditor, subject to ratification by the membership at the forthcoming Annual Meeting.

On behalf of the Property Committee, Mr. Broughton reported that the attempts being made to have the Society exempt from property tax, because of its status as a public scientific institution, were proceeding very well, and though not finally settled, it appeared the Society could confidently expect a refund of last year's tax payed on the office portion of its property. Mr. Broughton also announced his intention of resigning from the committee, after serving on it for seven years, four of them as its chairman. The Society is indebted to him for an enormous amount of work done over those years.

Dr. Halliday reported that the Awards Committee had received nominations for six Service Awards which were approved by Council-to Leslie Powis and James Winqer of the Hamilton Centre, Cyril Hallam and Henry Lee of the Windsor Centre, Hugh Maclean of the Niagara Centre and Peter Jedicke of the London Centre. He also reported that the Nominating Committee had accepted six different nominations for a new Honorary Member of the Society and a decision would be announced at the General Assembly in Hamilton. The Committee's slate of officers was as follows: for President: Dr. Bishop; for First Vice- President: Mrs. Grey; for Second Vice-President; Dr. Higgs; and for Secretary: Mr. Broughton. A nomination had been received for Second Vice-President: Mr. Harlan Creighton. An election will be held and ballots will be mailed to members.

As Astronomy Day Coordinator, Mr. Enright reported that very extensive planning had been done in the United States and Britain which is "gearing up" for Astronomy Week, and that he was looking forward to May 5th when a number of centres plan innovative kinds of activities to go along with the "tried and true" projects of mall displays and public star nights. A package of information with ideas and suggestions was approved by Council and is to be sent out to all Centres. It was also announced that in 1985, Astronomy Day would be on April 27th. Dr. Halliday expressed the wish that Halley's Comet Bulletin #2 could be prepared and sent out in time to be used for Astronomy Day this year.

Dr. Percy noted the approaching fiftieth anniversary of the David Dunlap Observatory and to mark the occasion extended to Society members an invitation from the University of Toronto's Department Of Astronomy to attend a special symposium on variable stars tentatively scheduled for July 12th to 14th, 1985.

On behalf of the Hamilton and Niagara Centre, Mrs. Fassel spoke of preparations being made for this year's General Assembly in Hamilton. She reported that Air Canada recognized the G.A. as a convention for which it would give considerable air-fare discounts (and for further information, she suggested telephoning Air Canada's Convention Central at 1-800-361-7585).

Council was happy to have received a letter from Mr. Harlan Creighton who reported that he had received a donation from the C.P.R. of a valuable old railway clock-something that will serve as a reminder of Mr. Malcolm Thompson, a Past-President of the Society, and the transfer of the clock to the Society is to take place at the General Assembly in Hamilton. Complete approval was given to the amendments made in November to the Kingston Centre's Constitution. In fact, the National Constitution is to be amended so that it says substantially the same thing as the Kingston Centre's Constitution regarding Associate Members who, if the amendment is ratified at the Annual Meeting, may be not just a spouse or children but any other family member, of a member of the Centre.

Further details of these items and others discussed at the meeting may be found in the minutes of the meeting which have been mailed to Centre Presidents and National Council Representatives. Financial statements from the Treasurer and reports from the Editing Committee and Handbook Editor are attached as appendices to the minutes.

In all, a great deal of business was conducted in the second National Council meeting held in the new headquarters of the Society.

Report of The Two National Council Meetings of June 1984

Two meetings of the National Council of the R.A.S.C. were held on the occasion of the 1984 General Assembly. The first was on Friday, June 29, and the second was the following day, immediately after the Annual Meeting of the Society. The location was Brandon Hall, Room 112, on the campus of McMaster University. National President, Mr. Franklin Loehde, presided at the first of the meetings, and after the new slate of officers had been put in place at the Annual Meeting, Dr. Roy Bishop, known for a number of years as our Handbook Editor, and now the new President of the Society, took the chair for the second meeting. At each of the meetings, fifteen of the twenty centres of the Society were; represented.

The agenda items of the first meeting included reports from all of the officers and standing committees of the Society as well as a number of important decisions. A motion was approved to set up a Constitutional Committee whose members would examine a draft proposal of a possible set of By-Laws which had been offered by the Society's solicitor as ones that might be used by Centres - in an effort to streamline the procedure of assuring that By-Laws of Centres were not in conflict with those of the National Constitution. Dr. Percy presented to Council a short document containing a list of dates, month by month, which members of Centre Councils ought to keep in mind in order to meet the various annual deadlines of the Society, and the document is to be sent out to all of the Centres. Council received a report of the awards given for astronomy - related projects at the Canada - Wide Science Fair. Approval was given for the purchase of a subscription to the Dark Skies for Comet Halley Journal which could be useful for members and centres in planning their activities over the next two years. Applications for membership in the Society by thirty-one unattached members and three life members were also approved by Council.

The Treasurer presented a financial statement covering the first four months of 1984 and asked for approval for a Special Projects Grant to assist the Winnipeg Centre in the publication of an astronomy booklet for children; approval was given for a grant of $200.00 from the Ruth Northcott Fund. The Editor of the Observer's Handbook reported that work was proceeding with the 1985 edition which should be issued by mid-October, and he requested approval of a price schedule which included a slight price increase to $8.50 per single copy. The schedule was approved and ways were considered to improve sales of the Observer's Handbook. The Astronomy Day Coordinater noted that he was quite pleased with the effort made by many of the Centres to have interesting, sometimes quite ambitious, undertakings for the last Astronomy Day which had been in May. To do as well next year in our centres' efforts at public education, planning should begin as soon as possible for International Astronomy Day 1985 which will be on Saturday April 27th.

Mr. Broughton announced his resignation as chairman of the property committee and reported that some final complications in the purchase of the Society's property on Dupont Street had been resolved. Announcements from the chairmen of both the Historical Committee and the Library Committee stated that some preliminary thought had been given to a possible reorganization of the National Library, with the idea of perhaps making it a resource library for both historical works and works on observational astronomy, but such discussions were at a very preliminary stage and comments were invited from interested members of the Society. The Speakers' Exchange Committee asked for approval by Council of a number of proposals which would make it easier for members of more of the Centres to travel from one city to another under the Speakers' Exchange Program. Approval was given for the proposal, the details of which are in Section 7(i) of the Minutes of the meeting.

At the meeting of Saturday, June 30th, Council appointed its standing Committees for the year 1984-1985. These were the Executive, Editing, Finance, Property, Library, Historical, Budget, National Newsletter, and Awards Committees. Approval was given to setting up a committee to investigate the use of computers in linking the centres of the Society. A decision was made to accept the invitation by the Winnipeg Centre to host the General Assembly in 1986 from June 27th to July 1st, at the University of Manitoba.

In order to investigate whether there should be other ways of giving unattached members a representation at National Council, a committee was established and asked to report its findings to the January 1985 Meeting. There was a discussion of closer cooperation between the Historical Committee and the Heritage Committee of the Canadian Astronomical Society. For his work in arranging the CPR for the permanent loan of a valuable railway clock, to serve as a reminder of Mr. Malcolm Thompson, Past President of our Society and member of the Dominion Observatory's Time Service, the members of National Council extended a vote of thanks to Mr. Creighton who had given considerable effort toward this project. Details of the items discussed at both meetings may be found in the minutes of the meetings which were mailed to all Centre Presidents and National Council Representatives. The full reports of the committees referred to above may be found in the appendices to these minutes. The Minutes of the 1984 Annual Meeting of the Society, held on June 30, 1984 will be published later this year in the Journal of the R.A.S.C.


On Saturday, September 29th, 1984, the National Council of the R.A.S.C. met in the Library of the Society's headquarters at 136 Dupont Street, Toronto. Our National President, Dr. Roy Bishop, chaired the meeting and seven Centres of the Society were represented.

The agenda included reports from the officers, from the standing committees, and from three ad hoc committees that had been formed at the June Council Meeting, and there were several important decisions and announcements. Mr. Broughton, National Secretary, reported that he had received a letter from the Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs stating that the Society's By-law amendments made at the Annual Meeting in June had received ministerial approval. Mrs. Fidler, National Treasurer, reported that the Society's auditors, the firm of C. J. Tinkham and Associates had submitted a bill of $1,000.00 for their services, and there was a consensus among Councillors that the firm should be retained as our auditors in view of the fact that their work was done well and promptly. As editor of the Observer's Handbook, Dr. Bishop reported that the annual publication was being printed and would be available in about three weeks, with the 1985 edition being eight pages longer than the current one. The report from the Librarian contained information on the new policy of having the National Library open to members on certain Saturdays this year, and on the success of this venture.

On behalf of the Property Committee, Ms. Robinson reported that insurance coverage had been extended to cover the newly-acquired clock, that the fence behind the building had been repaired, and suggestions were offered for improving the cleaning services for the office. Council approved the committee's proposed expenditure of up to $400.00 to cover the cost of the installation of paving stones in front of the building. The Awards Committee was asked to consider ten applications for the Membership Certificate and to issue a decision on them in time for the Annual Meetings of the various centres. Council also gave its approval to the awarding of four Messier Certificates. Dr. Chou, Chairman of the National Newsletter Committee, reported that a good amount of material was being submitted for publication, that the Newsletter's schedule was being maintained, and that the idea was being considered that in the future the N.N.L. and the Journal might have to be mailed separately if the former were to be true to its mandate as a 'news' publication.

On behalf of the Ad Hoc Committee on Computer Use, Mr. Loedhe reported that efforts were being made to determine the number and type of computers available in Centres across the country; the committee was soliciting advice from knowledgeable members across the country and would make a more complete report at the next meeting of Council. The Committee to Investigate the Representation on Council of Unattached Members received from its chairman, Captain Raymond Auclair, a suggestion that a survey be done of unattached members to ascertain their preferences regarding the type of representation they favoured. Council tabled the suggestion until the proposal and its cost could be further studied. On behalf of the Constitution Committee, its chairman, Mr. Watson, reported that the proposed set of 'Centre By-laws" suggested by the Society's solicitor was being thoroughly examined and more time was needed to consider them in conjunction with the Society's By-laws which also ought to be considered and to be consolidated and renumbered. Council approved the motion to extend the committee's mandate to examining the Society's By-laws as well.

In order to mark the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of David Dunlap Observatory, Council approved a gift of three pictures, suitably framed, of historically important astronomical instruments - the presentation to be made on the occasion of the celebration marking the anniversary. Council also approved a survey of unattached members residing in Ontario, a project being undertaken by Mr. Dale Armstrong of the London Centre. Support in principle was also extended to the idea that the National President should receive financial assistance for the costs incurred in undertaking visits to the various centres of the Society.

A special guest at the meeting was Mr. Glass, a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand, who explained preparations being made by his society, in cooperation with a travel agency, to host visitors from the Northern Hemisphere who would be travelling south in 1985 and 1986 in order to see Halley's Comet. Further information about the project is to be published in the National Newsletter.

In all, a considerable amount of business was conducted on the occasion of the "first anniversary meeting" at the new headquarters of the Society. Full details may be found in the minutes which have been mailed to our Centre President and National Council Representative. A financial statement from the Treasurer and a report from the Journal Editor are attached as appendices to the minutes.

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