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2009

Two Kingston Centre members received the Service Award in 2009: Kim Hay and Walter MacDonald.

Service Award 2009: Kim Hay

Many of us, no most of us, join clubs, associations, or societies for what they can give us or where they can take us. Few of us join to give as Kim Hay has to RASC National, RASC Kingston Centre, and her fellow members. Joining any association for benefit is what they are there for, to guide, teach, and enrich the interests of its members. Kim however is one of those individuals in life that join to give first and receive later.

Since 1989 through two decades of membership, Kim has been a constant volunteer, served on numerous committees, and held many executive positions at both the Kingston Centre and National level. It only took Kim two years after joining the RASC to become an executive, holding positions of Secretary, Treasurer, National Council Rep., President, and Treasurer 2008-2010. In 1997, when Kingston Centre hosted the General Assembly, Kim was the never-tiring Treasurer and Registrar for the event (with the aid of Barbarian") that helped make it such a success. Apart from all of these positions Kim has volunteered for every public event and instructional/education course that the Kingston Centre has had in the past 20 years.

Kim's involvement at the National level makes one wonder how she had the time for most of her Centre work. Serving on eight committees since 1994, Kim has contributed greatly not just to this Society, but the hobby and interest of Astronomy as a whole. Her National level service is as follows: Membership & Promotion Committee 1994-2002 (Chair 1998-2001), Computer Use Committee 1998-2001, National Secretary 1999-2005, National Executive Committee 1999-2005, Light Pollution Abatement Committee 2001-2002 and 2006-2008, Education Committee 2005, 2007-2008 (Chair 2007-2008), Library Committee 2007, Historical Committee 2007, Board Pilot Committee 2007 and Executive Advisory Committee (2008-2009).

An avid and infectious solar observer, Kim has published her first contribution to the 2009 Observer's Handbook. Kim is dedicated to sketching and tracking solar phenomenon (soon to be expanding into H-alpha), never taking the shortcut of digital imaging for her statistical work. She has been the ALPO Solar Coordinator since 2005 and serves as Computing Section Coordinator since 2004. Other outside interests include membership in the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) and being a Committee member (Canada level) for the International Year of Astronomy (2007-2009).

Her most recent contributions in 2008 to members across Canada were the creation of the RASC Astrosketchers web page and e-mail discussion group and her work on the web presentation of Canada and the Stars. She deserves all the credit for bringing together the RASC's astronomical sketching community, and putting its resources on the Web.

The last point to mention is the over 100 hours of time committed to preparing for the International Year of Astronomy in 2008 alone, not counting participating in all of the events that will happen in 2009. The Awards Committee and the Board of the RASC Kingston Centre wholly endorse Kim Hay's nomination for the RASC Service award based on the documentation put forward here.

Reference: Regulus Apr 2009, page 10.

Service Award 2009: Walter MacDonald

2009, most notably The International Year of Astronomy, will also mark the 30th year of Walter MacDonald's involvement with the RASC. Walter was an active member of the Toronto Centre from 1979 till 1987, and from 1987 to the present he has been energetically involved with the Kingston Centre. In a local sense it is undeniable that Toronto's loss is Kingston's gain, yet wherever Walter has been, the nature of his many ongoing contributions to the Society has benefited the RASC as a whole, and through the RASC, astronomy at large.

During his term as National Librarian (1994-1997), Walter created and distributed one of the first e-versions of the National Library's holdings of monographs and journals. It is in the spirit of that early effort to enhance access to RASC resources through electronic means, profiting members and non-members alike, that Walter has undertaken an immensely more significant enterprise. He has digitized the National Newsletter (1970-1990), and the early print incarnation of The Bulletin from 1991 to 1996, as well as the Annual Reports for 1966-1977 (when they were issued under separate cover), and provided links to the URLs of the earlier Annual Reports (1914-1960s) in The SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS). This has been a massive undertaking, and Walter conceived, implemented, and completed it virtually single-handedly, and in record time. It is as if one man did a whole committee's worth of work, competently, congenially, and on-time. There are reports, reviews, and observations of real value in the Newsletter and early Bulletin which fully justify the effort spent on their digitization. The full significance of Walter's achievement in this project lies elsewhere, however; he has made readily available several key resources for the history of organized amateur astronomy in Canada, for charting the course of Canadian amateur science, for chronicling the changing relationship between amateur and professional astronomers, for gauging the reaction (or non-reaction) of Canadian amateurs to trends in the discipline, and for comparing our national astronomical culture with others. For this achievement alone he merits nomination for the Service Award.

More should, and can be said about Walter's work at the Centre level. While a member of the Toronto Centre, he served as Assistant Editor of 'Scope, the Centre's newsletter, as well as Chair of the Observational Activities Committee. As a member of the Kingston Centre, he was their representative on national council (1992-1994), centre president (1994-1995), a member of their observatory committee, and centre webmaster. Prior to holding that last position he digitized nearly two decades of Regulus, the Kingston Centre's newsletter. In recognition of his contributions he received the A.V. Douglas Award for 2007, the Kingston Centre's most prestigious service award.

For Walter, as for many of us, whatever his other astronomical interests, observing is vitally important. His first projects were centred on DSOs, and by extension, astrophotography, first on film, then with CCD technology (1998-). He was the first Kingston Centre member to complete the RASC Finest NGC Certificate in 1995. Walter's love of observing has led him to complement his RASC membership with membership in other reputable astronomical societies: the AAVSO (since 1981), The Planetary Society (since 1983), the North York Astronomical Association (NYAA), and the Durham Region Astronomical Society (DRAS). For the AAVSO he has logged nearly 24,000 observations (some visual, but the majority with CCD). Walter has endeavoured to increase collaboration between the RASC and the AAVSO, notably through mentoring novice RASC variable star observers. He has been involved with the Kingston Centre's Robotic Telescope project since its inception in the fall of 2006, providing both technical assistance and major hardware. He also successfully designed and installed his own observatory structure as an integral part of his home (Winchester Observatory ). His interest in variable stars has led him to participate in the Puckett Supernova Search Team, work for which he received the Ken Chilton Prize for 2008, along with several RASC colleagues.

Walter approaches all of his astronomical projects with good humour, high motivation, and hard work. He has been generous in helping others with equipment, advice, and programmes. It speaks volumes that when the RASC Archivist suggested Walter be nominated for the Service Award, members of the RASC History Committee endorsed the nomination, as did the Kingston Centre's Awards Committee.

Reference: Regulus Apr 2009, page 11.

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