Our First Thirty Years, and the Next Thirty!

Photo: Bob Brown

Photo: Bob Brown

President’s Paragraph, July 2018

On Saturday, June 23rd, RCA celebrated the 30th anniversary of its merger with the Portland Astronomical Society with a picnic at Gabriel Park, where RCA and OMSI used to have their public star parties many years ago. The picnic was a rousing success. People who hadn’t seen each other for decades came together with their memories and their memorabilia. We created a timeline, an In-Memoriam page and an “I remember when” page on large sheets of paper for members to write their contributions. There were few marks on the pages, but an amazing amount of conversation and stories bubbled through our conversations.

The "Next Thirty"

For myself, though, the intriguing part of the event was how many relatively newer and younger members also came, and with their children too. I jokingly said we had the last thirty years and the next thirty years represented at the picnic, but on thinking about it, that was exactly right. Lucky, we have a hobby that appeals so strongly to the imagination that it draws in children.

Then Mike McKeag from the Outreach Team sent a lovely story that fits these thoughts perfectly:

A young girl, maybe early grade school age, with her pre-school sister in tow, came up to me at Stub Stewart one evening and asked, “I hear you have telescopes for kids, can we borrow one?” She and her little sister owned that StarBlast for the rest of the evening. After a few minutes of instruction, they were on their own. Occasionally I would scan the field to see what they and the telescope were currently up to. Early in the evening, when Jupiter was still playing peek-a-boo in the treetops, I saw her dragging the 5-gal bucket with its sandbag ballast inside that served as telescope stand across the grass to a new location where Jupiter was visible between trees. I looked for the StarBlast. She had thoughtfully set it safely on a picnic table while she relocated its base. Later, she and her little sister were again hunched at the eyepiece viewing Jupiter and it moons.

May it ever be thus!