February President's Paragraph

2016 has launched boldly for RCA. Despite an ice storm that delayed our first board meeting and technical difficulties that moved our first general meeting into the planetarium, we had an excellent speaker, Dr. Pappalardo from the Europa Mission in January.  We're looking forward to another great program at at our February 15th general meeting: Dr. Greg Bothun of University of Oregon. Thanks to the efforts of Programming VP Mark Martin, our programs have been steadily getting better in the last several years.  We expect another year of great programs, come rain or snow or high water, glitches or crashes of any sort.

Registration for the Camp Hancock star party, May 6th – 8th, is off to a great start. If you are thinking about it, it’s probably a good idea to sign up earlier than later, but we do keep a waiting list. Camp Hancock is an RCA favorite: it’s dry, rustic, quiet, and very far from noise and crowds. At the same time, it has the advantages of real bathrooms, bunkhouses to sleep in, and a mess hall with hot meals served twice a day, and sack lunches. Many people pack up their sandwiches and head off for a hike or a birdwatch during the day. The skies are very dark, and even if they cloud over, there is a lot of camaraderie among astronomy friends as we sit by our scopes, swapping observing stories and waiting for the clouds to scud away. Even if we get a cloudy evening, it’s very common that by 2 a.m. the sky over Camp Hancock is crystal clear and lovely. It’s worth waiting for.

Our club activities are purring along smoothly (see our event calendar for February). We have an additional opportunity of getting discount tickets to hear Gustav Holst’s The Planets played by the Oregon Symphony on the weekend of Feb. 6 – 8. RCA’s very own Jonathan Dubay is a violinist with the orchestra and he arranged the discount for us. Tickets can be purchased online or call 503-228-1353 and use the code “RCA” for the discount. The program includes Stravinsky’s Fireworks (which is not the same as his Firebird Suite) and features Natasha Paremski as guest pianist. Since I plan on attempting our Feb. 6 star party at Stub Stuart, I got tickets for Sunday, the 7th, in the afternoon.

Finally, our new communications strategies are coming together. The new design of the website is looking good. Visitors have probably noticed that when they type in .org, they are automatically redirected to .net. The previous website is still under the hood but over the coming year we will be migrating content into the new format and eventually will discontinue the little jog between the two addresses. We’ve begun to use Facebook for announcements, as it should be, and we’re sending out broadcast newsletters using Mailchimp, which allows recipients to remove themselves from any email lists they do not want to be on, so we are compliant with the laws. Finally, of course, is this very rollout of the long, lost and much-mourned Rosette Gazette. Many thanks to Laura Bentz for her editing. RCA members who want to contribute to the newsletter should direct their inquiries and writings here.

And speaking of articles, check out the article about streetlight pollution that Dawn Nilson, our IDA representative, was able to get permission to use on our website. And then again, Kathy Kornei, director of our Youth Astronomers Academy, got an article published in the March issue of Sky & Telescope. Nice work, both of you.

What a great club to be in! I hope you have a terrifically astronomical February.

Yours, Margaret McCrea