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2007

Annual Report 2007

Reports of the Kingston Centre Executive and Committee Chairs

President Secretary Treasurer OAFTN
KAON Website Fall'N'Stars Awards
Equipment Loan Observatory Responsible Lighting  

Agenda of Annual Meeting 2007 November 9

Stirling Hall Theatre D, Baader Lane, Kingston, Ontario.
7:30-8:00 p.m.

Approval of Agenda

Approval of 2006 Annual Meeting Minutes

Reports of the President, Secretary, Treasurer
To be approved by Membership

Reports of Committees
Reports received by Secretary

2007 Fall N Stars Report
KAOn 2007 Annual Report
Equipment Loan 2007 Report
OAFTN 2007 Annual Report
Observatory 2007 Report
Responsible Lighting 2007 Report
Webteam 2007 Report

Centre Elections-
President- 2 year for 2007-2009
VP- 2 year for 2007-2009
Treasurer- 2 year for 2007-2009

Election of Auditor
Approved by the Membership

Other Business


 

President

The Annual Report of the President is to report on the activities of the Centre to make sure that it is strong and viable.

Well we are holding our own, limping at times, and at other timesfalling short of volunteers and possibly failing our own members. I brought this up in Regulus, but I really want to emphasize, that without volunteers, no matter how much time you put into an event it is greatly appreciated, because it takes the load off others, and many hands make light work. I truly appreciate all the volunteers over the last year, and the last three years that have come out to KAON, Astronomy Day, Little Cataraqui, Relay for Life, Sky is the Limit, Members observing nights, presentations by members of what they observed, what they are doing or telling us about what's happening in the night time sky.

None of this would be possible if it were not for you, our members, and our volunteers.

We have had great speakers this year, both professional and our own members. We have talked about observing, tips and tricks, and helped each other out, when questions were asked. We have done outreach in the form of KAON, Astronomy Day, Little Cataraqui.

Our loan program was used, but still under utilized. We started the Robotic Telescope Dome project, still not functional yet, and the Coordinator is always looking for able bodies to help with the electronics and trouble shooting. Our Observatory Committee has been hard at work, looking for what our members may want in an observing site, and drawing up plans. We have some donated supplies, but more help is needed to help in all aspects of the project.

The Library has had new books purchased and signed out. Some of our other committees have been rather quiet this year, while others are working in the background, laying ground work to work hard in 2008. Fall'N'Stars was a success this year, despite a rocky start, with Arlyne Gillespie passing away, the two RASC centres (Kingston & Belleville pulled together along with Peterborough Astronomical Association.

Our OAFTN course ran in the fall of 2006 and again this fall, with Brain Hunter and Doug Angle presenting.

Though it seems busy, we may not be doing what you our members want, so if there is anything that you our members want to see done, please come forward, suggest an idea, and please give us a bit of your time to help run any event, any committee, and any Executive position.

I want to thank all the Executive, Committee Chairs and volunteers in helping me during my term as President. I wish the new Executive for 2008 the best of luck!

Respectfully Submitted
Kim Hay
President RASC Kingston Centre
2004-2007

Secretary

We currently have a total of 122 Society members: 111 Ordinary members, 1 Youth member, 9 Life members, and 1 Associate member.

Regular Meetings were held on the second Friday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in Theatre A or D, Stirling Hall, Queen's University.

January 12 Member's Night featuring short presentations by Susan Gagnon, Kevin Fetter, Hank Bartlett, Kevin Kell, Walter MacDonald.
February 9 Member's Night featuring short presentations by Kevin Kell, Kim Hay, Doug Angle, Walter MacDonald.
March 9 Member's Night featuring short presentations by Susan Gagnon, Kevin Fetter, Walter MacDonald, Doug Angle.
April 13 Dr. Judith Irwin, "Smog and the Galactic Environment - the discovery of PAHs in galactic halos"
May 11 Dr. Terry Bridges, "Extrasolar Planets: from hot Jupiters to earth-like systems"
June 8 Mark Coady, "Reclaiming Our Night Skies: Fighting Light Pollution"
July 13 Walter MacDonald, "Astro Imaging"
August 17 Annual "MarkFest" BBQ at Mark Kaye's.
September 14 Laura Gagne, "Sex and Violence in the Night Sky"
October 12 Dr. Ross Kilpatrick, "Klimt's Kiss and the Corona Borealis"

For Astronomy Day 2007 the Kingston Centre offered displays and public observing. Members also gave presentations at several area schools, and offered public observing at the Charleston Lake Star Party. In addition to a member who volunteered as a judge, an award and a prize were contributed to the area Science Fair.

Our monthly public observing sessions were held at the Queen's University Observatory, in partnership with the Queen's University Physics Department.

In 2007, we held one nine-week session of our "Observational Astronomy for the Novice" course.

The Fall'N'Stars 2007 star party, hosted jointly with the RASC Belleville Centre, was once again a great experience for all who attended.

In 2007, RASC-KC received Federal Charity Status.

Our ATM group continued work on a 16-inch telescope. Also, work continued on setting-up our Meade LX200 as a Remote Operated Telescope using a loaned "RoboDome".

Respectfully submitted,
Steve Hart
Secretary, RASC - Kingston Centre

Treasurer

Treasurer's Report (91kb PDF)

Observational Astronomy for the Novice (OAFTN)

Instructors: Doug Angle, Brian Hunter
Coordinator: Kevin Kell

OAFTN is our 4th course using the NOVA program developed by Brian Battersby of the RASC Prince George Centre. It is an 8 week program meeting once each week for two hours in observational astronomy.

The current course is in week 4 and has 7 students enrolled. This is down from previous years (22, 20 and 14) and we may be reaching the saturation point of demand for this course in the Kingston area.

Many thanks to Doug and Brian for volunteering to lead this effort this year.

After two courses held using rented rooms at Queen's University we have moved the last two to the Isabel Turner Library on Gardiners Road. Queen's is suffering from a lack of teaching space and in the last course held there we had to change rooms more than 3 times. Isabel Turner is also less expensive and parking is much better as Queen's is under massive construction. The library location and smaller class size permits going outside after class for visual observing and identifying constellations. This part is well received by the participants.

We prefer to have two co-instructors for the class, allowing backup coverage in case of an instructor being unavailable, giving the students more than one perspective and teaching style, and to allow for a light time commitment on the part of the instructors.

This course (with included membership in the RASC) continues to be the best recruiting method for new members to the RASC-KC. Even during our other big public outreach events like Astronomy Day, The Sky is the Limit Festival, Little Cataraqui Conservation Area presentations and the Relay for Life, we would rarely if ever get new members in the near-term time after the event.

At a glance, retention among this group (of all OAFTN students) however seems to be below average (of the rest of the centre membership). Having more benefits to membership may help in increasing that.

A note was sent off to the National RASC Education Committee and to Brian Battersby, RASC Prince George, informing them of the continuing success of the program. This was held up to show what the National Organization could do to help Centres and perhaps even support it more. We have had a direct hand in assisting other centres in getting their programs up and running as well (RASC Vancouver to name one), with one on one talks with their coordinators at the last few General Assemblies and via email.

Looking forward:
We hope to continue to offer this course annually each fall. With the possibility of an observing facility in the near term (1-3 years) future, we may look at adapting and moving the course there to shift the focus from the classroom to the field.

Kingston Astronomy Outreach Network (KAON)

Coordinator (2004-2007): Kevin Kell

KAON is a joint venture with the Queen's University Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy held at the Ellis Hall Observatory.

Each month (2nd Saturday) we hold a Public Observing Session/Open House and maintain statistics on the KAON webpage at http://130.15.144.99/rasc/kaon/

In the last 12 months we have had over 1220 visitors at 13 events.

I would like to thank all of the regular volunteers whom without them, this program would not be possible: Steve Hart, Kim Hay, Susan Gagnon, Hank Bartlett, Norm Welbanks and other volunteers who managed to drop in a few times to help out: Paul Winkler, Brian Hunter, Ken Kingdon.

This has been our best bang-for-the-buck/resource public event for promoting astronomy, public education and even a little bit of member recruiting and we hope that it will continue on for the forseeable future.

Looking back:
In June of 2006 we started a 10-20 minute lecture series each night, to help draw in an audience even if there was inclement weather. RASC-KC started with every other lecture but we have dropped that down to one in three lectures starting September 2007. Upgrades to the Observing Deck have included power around the perimeter and red lighting.

Looking forward:
I am happy to announce that Susan Gagnon has stepped forward to become the KAON Coordinator effective 2007 October. We are assisting Terry Bridges in preparing a grant application to Queen's University to upgrade the Audio/Video setup, possibly to add in weather and dome webcams, a weather station and other upgrades. We hope to continue this relationship with the Queen's Physics and Astronomy Department into the future as it also aids us in our meeting room bookings at Queen's and may have future implications for an Observatory facility in the country.

Web Operations

Chair: Kim Hay

The RASC-KC Website has a team of three individuals, Walter MacDonald, Kevin Kell, and myself. The website was redesigned and new code (style sheets, XHTML and PHP) is being used, which was created by Walter MacDonald, and went live on February 9, 2007.

Updates to several pages, as new information comes in, are done in a timely fashion. A few hours each month are required to maintain the site.

There have been several additions to the website this year:

  • We have installed the Picture Gallery for members to use and put up their pictures to share with everyone. This is a stand-alone system, where the members can look after their own folder.
  • An inventory of the Centre's Library is part of the website and will be improved upon soon.
  • A webstat analyser has been installed to show statistics on website hits, and what the most-used pages and files are. This is located in the Member's Only section, under webalizer stats.
  • In October, an Astronomy Headlines JavaScript program was added for up-to-date news.

However, the web server did suffer a catastrophic failure this summer, once 2/3 of the webteam left on vacation (Murphy's Law). All has been repaired, and is working normally, except for the odd gremlin.

I have been webmaster for 3 years, and will be stepping down as webmaster. Walter MacDonald has agreed to be the main webmaster, if the new Executive approves. There will still be a web team, with the same members involved, just with a reshuffling the jobs.

Fall'N'Stars

Chair: Kevin Kell

Fall'n'Stars is an annual star party, now in it's 8th year, jointly held by the RASC Belleville and Kingston Centres. 2007 was Kingston's turn to lead and our chair was Arlyne Gillespie. She resigned due to health reasons in the spring of 2007 and we are sad to say, passed away in the summer.

Fall'N'Stars 2007 is dedicated in loving memory of Arlyne Gillespie, whose enthusiasm, dedication and leadership continues to inspire us all. Arlyne has been a longtime member of RASC Kingston and RASC Belleville, as well as a member of the Fall n Stars Team.

I stepped in along with local volunteers John Pilon, Hank Bartlett and Kim Hay and although we got off to a slow start, we brought it together along with the Belleville volunteers and has a successful event.

It was held for the 7th year on Friday September 14th to Sunday September 16th, 2007 at the Vanderwater Conservation Area Boy Scout Camping Area near Thomasburg, Ontario. [Fall'N'Stars website.]

The point of this is to hold a Star Party event to allow members from both centres to mingle and exchange information and stories about astronomy.

The Peterborough Astronomical Association has been invited the past two years but we have had very low turnout from them. There have been suggestions to get the PAA involved in a three way hosting but without a year or two past history of commitment by PAA members and volunteers, this will not happen.

The event is budget to break even, or not lose money. It is not meant to be a moneymaker off the backs of our members. Fees and budgets are set to this premise. Fortunately, from the work of our volunteers, we normally raise a large surplus through extracurricular activities such as book auctions and draws and raffles.

Past financial history:

2002 +265
2003 +148
2004 -75
2005 +521
2006 +328
2007 +411

The net is split equally among the two centres each year. In 2008 Belleville will lead the event and provide the financial support as Kingston did this year.

Kingston has built up from the proceeds and kept as a Fund over $799 from the last few years noted above. This ensures that we have a good buffer against a possible few bad years and have enough to front the event when we lead.

There are challenges is working remotely with a committee. Each Centre needs to have 2 or 3 volunteers plus one more as a chair in alternating years.

If well organized with a good early start, this is not an onerous job. This year I made a concerted effort as Chair to lower the tempo and reduce the overhead and workload of the volunteers by not having a guest speaker, by moving the Saturday morning and afternoon workshops/talks back to the members as in our 2000-2002 events did.

There are informal attempts at looking for better sites. Some of the drawbacks of the current site are listed in the attached PDF (scouts20070924.pdf). Other concerns are the continuing smaller sky due to tree growth.

Looking Forward:
This is a volunteer event run by volunteers for the benefit of our members. The current crop of volunteers have been stalwart to say the least over these last 8 years but the time has come to have new faces and new ideas come forward lest the event get stale and die.

Depending on the future RASC-KC Observastory Facility site, there may exist a chance to hold Fall'n'Stars there (perhaps in another format) or another star party event there. Facilities and infrastructure are concerns however.

Awards Group

The Awards Committee consists of the President, one other Executive member and a member at large. The Awards Committee for 2007 consisted of Joe Benderavage (the 2006 Novice Award winner) and Hank Bartlett (Past President and volunteer, member), and myself Kim Hay.

We have two recipient's for the Messier Award, Kim Hay who finished in March 2007, and Martyn McConnell who received his Messier Certificate in 1988 but was not on our award plaque, it was in his missing years. We have one award winner for the Finest NGC objects, Doug Angle, who completed the NGC list earlier this year.

We do have an award winner for the A.Vibert Douglas Award this year, it is Walter MacDonald (but it is a secret) and this will also be presented at the upcoming Big Banquet on November 16, 2007.

We do not have an award winner for the Novice Award this year.

As a soon to be past member of the Awards Committee, I would like to see the committee next year place at least in the Regulus newsletter a listing of our long standing members, and recognize their support over the years.

Respectfully Submitted
Kim Hay
Chair Awards Committee

Equipment Loan Program

Coordinator: Kevin Kell

The equipment list and current sign out status is located at http://130.15.144.99/rasc/equipment.php A signout logbook is also maintained. We are attempting to set up an annual inventory audit process as well.

Use of the equipment has been fairly light over the last 12 months:

  • The 20cm Barney Dobsonian has been out almost constantly.
  • The 25cm Douglas Dobsonian has had it's mirror recoated and has been out since.
  • The starlight express camera has been out for most of the year,
  • Other items that have seen loan activity include the two high end eyepieces, educational slides and projector, green laser and sqm meter.

Since the program inception way back in the 1990's there has been a definite shift away from the telescopes to higher end accessories. This can be explained by the massive drop in the cost of dobsonian telescopes, to the point that a 20 cm can be held for less than $300 or $400. The astroscan has not been out in years. The orbiter reflector has had a complete mount failure and is out of service. The 20cm Fitzgerald has been at the KAON observing deck for the last 4 years now.

The Equipment Loan program equipment collection does take up substantial space. We look forward to moving into an observatory facility warmroom where much of this could be stored, freeing up room at member's homes, and making it more accessible to our members.

Maintenance: There has been a little maintenance done on the telescopes (painting mounts, collimation, replacements of kits, batteries, etc). The mirror resurfacing on the Douglas has been the single biggest item.

Looking back:
New items in the program this past year: SQ Meter, Meade DSI camera (donated by Kevin Fetter).

Looking forward:
I believe that higher priced accessories will be the most likely requested item for new items in the program. Ones that members cannot afford to buy outright or would like to try out first.

The only suggestion so far is a hydrogen alpha telescope. The only problem is that the low cost PST is $725 and that it is perhaps not the best ease-of- use solar telescope. The next recommended model up would be the Coronado Solarmax40 for $1900. This is out of reach of the equipment loan program.

A request for suggestions has been and will be again submitted to Regulus in the near future.

Observatory

Terms of reference:

  1. this group will come up with a list of recommendation to take to the rasc-kc board regarding the needs of the observatory. This was completed in February of 2007 and is available at http://130.15.144.99/rasc/Secure/observatory/
  2. this group will generate a 2 page summary document that we can post on the web and make available to members, so that they can help out in the search for a site. This was completed in June 2007 and is available at at the web link above.
  3. this group will generate sample building layout designs This was completed in 2007 August and available on the web link mentioned above.
  4. Generate possible site lists and site evaluation checklists. in progress

The committee will have to step up its efforts in generating a list of possible sites and in creating a more detailed package for potential benefactors in the future.

The provisional target is to have a site identified by the summer of 2008 and construction of the observatory, warm room and washroom by the fall of 2008.

We believe that an observing facility is the absolute highest priority agenda item for the RASC-KC and the benefits that it will bring:

  • a home for the 60cm Venor telescope and more access to it by members.
  • a home for the centre Library and more access to it by members
  • a home for the Equipment Loan program for better access by members
  • a gathering point for an Observer's Group with warm room and observing resources,
  • a central resource storage location for items scattered throughout members homes
  • a gathering point for more social interaction between centre members

Kevin Kell, Observatory Committee Chair

Responsible Lighting

Members, Kevin Kell, Paula Smith, affiliate member: Hank Bartlett The Responsible Lighting (RL) committee received a new member this year, Paula Smith.

We have had several email sessions and a face to face meeting with brain storming ideas, that will be implemented before the end of 2007 and for the 2008 year.

This year, the RL Committee produced a colour poster of the May 4, 2005 Queen's Lighting Experiment, which went out the Calgary General Assembly and was put on display with a presentation given by Kevin Kell at the General Assembly on the project.

The Committee Chair also wrote letters to the Kingston Public Utilities, Lighting Engineer regarding the new Victorian lighting located in the city centre, and to the Stone Mills Township regarding full cut off lighting in and around the township. Letters were also written in support of the RASC Saskatoon Centre ongoing battle with the Dakota Dunes Casino, which is 23 km S of Saskatoon. This particular casino was using 7 very bright spotlights to project a tepee of light into the sky. These would stay on all through the night. Letters were sent to several members of the Saskatchewan Legislature and Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA). To date letters where received back from the Saskatchewan Legislature, and nothing from SIGA.

There was some discussion within the committee for the Centre to become members of the IDA. This would entail us to get the newsletter and be able to publish items of interest in our newsletter. However, it was decided that the Chair would become a member and see if this would benefit the Centre and the RL cause. Our ideas for 2007-2008 will be to produce several new displays. Our only RL display has been at Ellis for the last two years, and is in need up an update. We will also be focusing on two different brochures, one for the general public, and another with more technical writing to accompany our letter writing campaign to local businesses, and municipalities.

Another project will be to produce a lecture series of approximately 10 lectures. These will be in Power Point format, and will hopefully be presented to the RASC National LP committee for distribution to centres.

The RASC LPA email list was opened up to anyone interested in LPA/RL, and we have been exchanging information and ideas over the last year, and this has helped tremendously with existing LPA/RL Committees.

The current Chair is also on the RASC National LPA committee, and working to bring more information to the Centres and vice versa.

Respectfully Submitted
Kim Hay
Chair RASC KC Responsible Lighting Committee

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