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Annual Report 2001

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


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. Jan Wiesnewski also held regular monthly meetings of a growing CCD group at his home.

The centre boasted a large delegation at both the London GA and at Starfest this summer. It seems we are becoming quite a spectacle among our fellow astronomers. We also had a great time at Mark Kaye's observatory in August, with our own Judith Irwin as the mystery speaker. In bringing astronomy to the public, we had a wonderful display at Cataraqui Town Centre for Astronomy Day. This was organized by Susan Gagnon and Don Mastrianni and was a tremendous success. The next major public event was the Sky is The Limit Festival in City Park. This year we had a model solar system and rocket launch which seemed to be the joy of Kevin's day. As usual we had telescopes aimed at the sun, moon and whatever else we could find through the clouds. We had a static display and a mirror-grinding demonstration. 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 Centre's major project of the year (started last year) has been the construction of a 24 inch telescope. It has been named "Venor" after the late Robert Venor, whose family donated the mirror blank and other parts to our centre. Doug and Kendra Angle have been instrumental in the construction of our most prized piece of equipment. Construction has been carried out by several centre members and should be finished this year. Our next goal is to find some land in the country and start work on an observatory for our new telescope to live in. Until then, Doug Angle has offered to house it on his property. Details of how members can book time on the telescope will follow.

Our very prolific centre has also produced some new publications. We now have an ATM projects book courtesy of Kevin Kell, and a second edition of Expanding Their Universe is about to be released. Kevin also produced a yearbook on CD Rom celebrating our centre' s fortieth anniversary. This will be mailed to all members with the next edition of Regulus.

This, our fortieth year since our founding by Dr. A Vibert Douglas, has been no less active than the first year. We have many enthusiastic members who work very hard to make this the finest centre in the society. It has been a pleasure to serve as president. Now as we move to a new building, forging stronger ties to the physics department which attended our birth under one of its own professors, we look forward to a future as grand as our past.

Laura Gagné, President 2001

Vice President

The duties of the Vice-President are not particularly onerous. They mainly involve recruiting topical speakers at regular meetings, and ensuring out-of-town presenters have geographical directions and accommodation. Rarely, in the absence of the President, the Vice-President acts as a stand-in (sometimes crudely called a stand-up, as in "stand-up comic"). I greatly enjoyed this past year, particularly as it ensured that astronomy was never far from my thoughts. When you're busy doing things you HAVE to do, it's all too easy to forget those optional things you LOVE to do.

During the year 2001, I was especially fortunate in that my predecessor had already recruited some speakers to start the schedule off.

January saw a Members' Night, with plenty of slides and a discussion of solar hydro-dynamics by Stephen Manders.

In February we met our new National President, Dr. Bob Garrison (now retired from the University of Toronto Astronomy Dept.)

March was a multi-topic Members' Evening featuring presentations by Leo Enright, Susan Gagnon, and Laura Gagné.

April's meeting brought us some insight into the complexity of mirror coatings with Alan Ward of Sudbury. I for one, also learned the correct way to clean a mirror and how to store a scope when not in use.

In May, Dr. D. J. Saikia (whose first name means, appropriately, "Polaris"), spoke of active galaxies and how our previous understanding of very distant objects had been distorted by their orientation toward our own position in space. Dr. Saikia has been a visiting professor at Queens from his home university in India.

June brought us Terry Dickinson, who made an enthusiastic presentation to us on the planet Mars. He included some of his own opinions, and provided context to what has been generally accepted as historical fact.

Following the London General Assembly, one of our more distant members, Dr. Richard Schmude of Georgia, was able to join us in July to show us what could be accomplished through photoelectric magnitude and colour measurements, using his studies of Mars over the past decade as examples.

After the summer hiatus, we began the Fall sessions in September with Ken Kingdon's fascinating self-expos?, entitled Deep Sky Secrets. Ken gave us all the tips and tricks you might use to improve your luck in observing, many of them gleaned during his pursuit of the Finest NGC Objects List.

Tonight, for our October meeting we expect to have some election mania to provide us with our entertainment, and after the attendant turmoil, perhaps a few quiet presentations by members of their summer activities.

Although I can't officially report on what happened after that, we can step into my time machine for the following brief retrospective:

In November, we had an exciting talk by Dr. Barry Robertson of the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory, on the fundamental importance of their findings announced this past Spring and future plans for exploration.

On November 24th, the Awards Dinner speaker was Cathy McWatters of North York, who presented an interactive ionospheric experience for us. (I'm sure you'll agree it was certainly as exciting as it sounded).

December's meeting was due to be held on December 14th. I can't recall if we had a meeting, or which speaker or speakers we had, as I was still looking for suggestions as we approached Christmas time and the Time Machine gets more unreliable the further we stray from our normal time line. No doubt we had loads of fun though!

Thank you for this.
Paul Winkler, Vice President 2001


2001 marked the 40th anniversary of the Kingston Centre. In an effort to commemorate the occasion, our energetic Editor, Kevin Kell led a small band of helpers to produce a yearbook filled with pictures and history of the Centre. All members will receive a copy with their November/December Regulus. Other Anniversary efforts enjoyed by all include talks given by Leo Enright about Dr. A.V. Douglas and the birth of the Centre. Leo has a great supply of slides and stories about founding members, very entertaining.

Public events this year were seen to be quite successful. A prime real estate location in a local mall, secured by our Astronomy-Day chair, Don Mastrianni, resulted in excellent exposure. Our display was always busy with volunteers and visitors. Three scopes set up outside for solar observing were also very busy. Over the following six days we held lunchtime and evening observing sessions at our usual downtown park location. These too were well attended. In July it was time for the Sky is the Limit Festival, a local charity fundraiser. Mirror grinding, observing, and an information table were the basics of the display. August brought a great night out at Charleston Lake Provincial Park. Every year the Park hosts an Astronomy night where Terry Dickinson gives a talk, followed by a chance to look through scopes provided by volunteers. Kingston has participated for several years and it is always rewarding since it is such a great dark site.

On a more member-oriented note, a small army of Centre members made their way to the London GA. It was a great time with the usual G.A. stresses like, why can't I ever get this time/space thing working so that I can attend all the sessions! Then came Starfest and Kingston sent a formidable delegation. In September we and the Belleville Astronomy Club held our second dark-sky weekend which has come to be known as Fall'N'Stars. All aspects seemed improved, even the weather to some extent.

Increasing Centre exposure, public awareness of astronomy, and addressing light pollution all came together in a tidy package for our LPA chair, Kim Hay, this year. The Land O' Lakes Tourist Association is looking for input about what makes the area special and what to promote. Of course, at the top of our list is plenty of dark sky, and our delegation did not waste any time pointing that out. There seems to be interest in Bread and Breakfast establishments hosting astronomy nights, so we will see where this leads.

The ATM committee continued with its labour of love to complete the 24-inch. There is a good chance that it will see first light before the year is out. Good work Doug and Kendra Angle, ATM leaders. Education soldiers on with classroom visits, the production of teaching aids and a third year of presentations to the Science Teachers of Ontario Association.

Monthly public observing continues and it has been well attended, while most members' dark-site observing has been clouded out. Our Youth Observers Group is on a break now waiting for fresh ideas and energy. The CCD has become very popular and after a summer break has picked up again.

We were most fortunate to have some excellent meetings this year:

January Members' Night: "History of the Kingston Centre" by Leo Enright
February "The Nstars Project" by Bob Garrison.
March Members' Night: "History of the Kingston Centre, Part 2" by Leo Enright
April "Moonward Vacuum Coatings" by Alan Ward
May "Active Galaxies" by Dr. J. Saikia
June "Mars 2001 Observations and Expectations" by Terry Dickinson
July "Mars: 10 Years of Photometric Observations" by Richard Schmude
August "Markfest annual BBQ" by Judith Irwin
September "Deep Sky Challenge" by Ken Kingdon
October Elections and Members' Night
November "SNO" by Dr. Barry Robertson
December Members' Night.

As 2001 closes we look forward to our banquet, elections, and plans for the next year. This year we have had a chance to reflect on the history of our Centre. This look at who we are and what we hope to achieve led the executive to change the location of the meeting room. There were two great choices, the original meeting room where the Centre started, in a building that houses the Queen's telescope, or Stirling Hall, home of the Astronomy/Physics faculty. The Stirling D lecture hall was chosen for the following reasons: plenty of A.V. equipment, greater capacity for more public participation, and last but not least, proximity to the Astronomy faculty and students. This we hope will foster closer ties, which will allow the Centre to bring more of the research done by Queen's staff and grad students to the public for our mutual benefit.

My report only offers a brief glimpse of the hard work done by members, and as always there is much more to do in 2002. So many ideas, so little time!

Susan Gagnon
Secretary, Kingston Centre


Report missing (web only).


AGM 2001 October 12

1) Changes:
The part of the centre's collection kept in B201 MacCorry Hall will be moved to the home of the librarian along with the bookcase. So that people can see and borrow materials a book bag will be setup. Each month a selection of books will be brought to the meeting This will contain whatever are deemed to be the favourites of the month. (The selection may be very eclectic: ie. not understood on the part of the selector or others.)

The sign out sheet will still be used to keep track of the items borrowed.

The centre web site has an 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 been receiving newsletters from other centres in noticeable quantities.

Books acquired this year include:

  • The MK Process, ed by Robert F. Garrison picked up by Paul Winkler at Starfest in August.
  • Susan Gagnon also contributed books.
  • Other contributions have been received but their details are not at hand at this time.

New books by David Levy are being purchased:

  • Shoemaker by Levy : The Man Who Made an Impact
  • The Man who Sold the Milky Way: A Biography of Bart Bok, 1995

Also available by David Levy is, The Scientific American Book of the Cosmos, 2000. We will consider the purchase of this book.

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
Friday, October 12, 2001.


This year has shown membership averaging around 155, about the same as the year 2000. We published 200 copies for the January, March, May and July issues and 200 copies for the September and November issues. In addition to our members, a copy goes out to each of the RASC centres (25) 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. New additions this year included a regular column from Kim Hay - Kim's Kosmic Kingston Kalendar. In November we will start a regular Education column, as well as a special one time mailing of the RASC-KC 40th Anniversary CDROM. This will be a windows compatible CD which will be viewed by web browsers and contains historic and current information about the Centre.

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 2001

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. Our contact was David Schmidt: email <> but I believe he has moved on and our current contact is the Internet Kingston Help Desk. We are allowed 4 Mb of space at /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 (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 Pentium 166 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: 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 /rasc/") sometimes confuses members of the public, thinking that it might be a RASC-members-only web site, which it is not.

Web Summary
/rasc approx 3.5 mb, with 117 html files and over 148 graphic images approx 523mb with 3207 images and 354 html files

We have had notices out asking for Centre member help with the site but no one has come forward. Help will be essential as the site, if it is to be used and valuable as PR, must be kept up to date and "touched" on a regular basis to keep fresh. Other RASC centres have only a token advertising presence, with Centre event pages being months out of date. We must avoid this at all costs.

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 2001

Observing Group

Report missing (web only).

Amateur Telescope Making Group

Report missing (web only).

Awards Group

Report missing (web only).

Publicity Group

Our main course of publicity is in the local media (newspaper & radio). In the coming year, there should be more emphasis placed on broader publicity of our meetings and public events.

Publicizing in the surrounding local papers (as long as the announcements are free), using the Web for publicity, and using the new radio stations that have popped up in town over the last year, is a good start.

We have our phone line (613-542-3974) which has about 1-2 phone calls per month, however it is yet another contact point, for the public.

Updated business cards, Phamplet and handouts at our public events will give the 1st hand contact we need, for more people to come back and see us again, hopefully resulting in memberships, and interested people in astronomy.

The new position of Membership Coordinator was created to help our Treasurer and Secretary, and to look after any concerns that our members might have. The Membership Coordinator would also keep the membership list up to date, with any changing information, award winners, past, present and future.

Hopefully we can have more contact with the schools and teachers, especially with the involvement with STAO. Many members are doing individual work with schools and students.

Astronomy is a very interesting subject, and one that we can be proud to share with others.

Kim Hay
Chair-Publicity 2001

Education Group

The main focus of the education committee this year has been the production of the second edition of Expanding Their Universe. The new version has new activities as well as several other changes prompted by feedback from teachers who have used the book. The Seminar Summaries section has been changed to "Practical Astronomy" and contains the hands-on observing projects that students would do at home. The new version will be spiral bound with a colour, cardboard cover on the front, and plain cover on the back. This new book is expected to be released by the end of this year. Thank you to Kevin for all his hard work as our editor, ensuring that our publications look professional and cost little to produce.

There has been low demand for Astronomers in schools, but many members have reported doing presentations to various schools both elementary and secondary. Public Observing nights provide students with monthly opportunities to view the heavens. As chair of the Education Committee, I would like to publicly acknowledge a huge debt of gratitude to Tom Dean for ensuring that these public events keep happening, and also to those who help Tom to make these evenings so successful.
The coming year will see more focus on our Astronomer in the School program, and possibly an update to our publications. This committee could not function were it not for all the help and enthusiasm that centre members put into reaching out to the youth. It has been a privilege serving our centre.

Laura Gagné, Education Committee Chair 2001

Light Pollution Abatement

This year in an attempt to reach out to the public and inform them of the RASC-Kingston Centre and Light Pollution, several members of the Kingston Centre attended meetings of the Land "O" Lakes Tourism Association.

They're where three meetings held, January in Sharbot Lake, February in Verona, and March in Napanee. Each meeting was well attended by those involved in the communities, and many local small businesses. There were several contacts made with Bed and Breakfast businesses, and along with the Kingston Business Association.

Though the summertime season is a busy one for most of the seasonal businesses, the fall is a time to reflect on any of the tourism that happened through this season, and a fall meeting is planned at a later date.

The Light Pollution Committee has also had contact with the new Queen's Light Pollution Committee, mostly being formed out of the Physics Department. We would like to have a meeting with the Queen's committee to see how they tackled the lighting issue at Queen's and along with the new Chemistry Building.

We are also collecting local pictures of streetlights, and information from the City Hall WebPages and Council Meetings, in an attempt to contact the correct individuals to alert them of the problem with light pollution, and to show them what other communities have done to lower a) cost b) light trespass c) light pollution in general (example: Mike Cook, from Oshawa, winner of the National LPAC certificate).

For publicity purposes, we have made new brochures and a standup display on Light Pollution. The future plans is to come up with a power point presentation on the local Light Pollution situation and what we as individuals and a community can do to lessen the Light Pollution in our area.

This committee is open to anyone who wants to learn and teach others on the issue.

Kim Hay
Chair -Light Pollution Abatement Committee 2001

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