It's October. It's time for officer elections, so it's time for another call for volunteers. There are eight officer positions open for nomination: President, Secretary, Treasurer, VP Programs, VP Observing, VP Membership, VP Communications, and VP Outreach. Position descriptions can be found on our website here. We have a tradition in RCA of people stepping forward to take up some volunteer work for a year or two or more, then stepping back to let someone else have a chance but staying in the club, then later volunteering for another activity. This gives us a lot of institutional memory, and makes the club stronger. If you've been thinking about it, now's your chance.
When I took the position of President, I told myself I'd do it for three years. I am now closing in on the end of my fourth year. I hereby announce publicly and officially that I will serve a fifth year, and will resign this position as of December 2020. That means we need someone to step forward for the President's position now. (Job description here.)
The President is the only club officer who needs to have served on the Board for a year before taking up the lead position. In the interests of a smooth transition, we're sending out a call for volunteers for any position on the Board, including the ones that are by appointment. I will mentor you through the year so that by December 2020, you will be prepared and able to take the club the direction you want it to go.
If it’s September, then it’s time for another round of Young Astronomers Awards. The summer has fled and it’s time to find another batch of applicants to encourage on their path to the sciences.
If any of our members knows a middle-school or high-school student in any public or private high school or a home school in Multnomah, Clackamas or Washington Counties, or in Clark County in Washington, who may be interested in applying for a certificate of recognition for a project of excellence and merit, plus a cash grant, please encourage them to submit an inquiry as soon as possible, and to submit the project to RCA by October 31. We will announce the winners at the November meeting and hand out the awards at the December potluck.
The kinds of projects we are looking for can include science journalism, such as writing an article about a recent astronomical development, or an art project, such as making a video or creating a graphic story on an astronomical theme, or doing a major outreach project such as starting an astronomy club at their school, or once again, taking on a research project of their own.
If you do not know of any students in this age range, but know a science instructor in one of these locations, please ask them to contact us right away about these awards. We are sincere in our desire to reach a broad spectrum of students and encourage them to take on the challenge of STEM education, and even more, we are interested and excited to see what kind of creative projects students of today come up with.
Last month Rose City Astronomers passed another milestone in our membership: we're over 800! We don't know exactly what's driving our fairly rapid growth these last two years, but we have some ideas. Portland itself is growing; we have a strong web and social media presence; there's growing awareness of dark sky issues; and we've done a lot of outreach. Also we continue to offer great speakers and lots of support for observers and telescope users.
But we know that these changes in numbers are going to make changes in the club. We're going to need more support for new members. We will no doubt find more modern ways to manage our membership databases and our communications systems. We want to offer more workshops and classes for members in all areas of interest. And of course,we will need more volunteers. Lots more volunteers. While the Board works to stay ahead of our growth curve, our members can contribute by offering their time and talents in any area of the club they feel comfortable.
Welcome everyone, new members and veterans! We have a lot of work to do.
We have now set up a google email account for the 2020 calendar images. At first, please send a low-res image to Bhavesh Parekh at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Once all the images are finalized, your high-res images can be sent to the same email.) Send Bhavesh a personal message if your image file size exceeds gmail and/or your email limits. Thanks to all who have already submitted their images. Please keep them coming!!!
Artificial Satellite Constellations: A New Threat to Astronomy and Dark Skies? International Dark Sky Association (IDA) has gone on record opposing satellite clusters. An urgent response is needed before more clusters are launched. With many astronomers on break or otherwise tied up for the summer, help is being sought from amateur astronomers and astrophotographers. One thing you can do to help the effort to curb the proliferation of these clusters is to post time and location data and photos of the cluster to the RCA forum (I will start a thread for Starlink under the imaging SIG). I will get these photos to the active members of the committee assigned to respond to SpaceX. RCA and IDA will also conduct social media outreach using these images. If you are interested in assisting with modeling efforts, let me know and I will put you in touch with the appropriate team member. Stay tuned for more information.
By far, the most effective advocacy tool that IDA has found in its tool box is designating International Dark Sky Places (IDSP). As of June 2019, there are 122 IDSP’s world-wide totaling 22 million protected acres. Fifteen more IDSP’s are expected to be designated by the end of 2019. Because IDSP’s draw so much attention to dark sky issues as well as providing dark sky preservation, RCA’s Board has made helping to designate “Oregon’s First IDSP” one of its goals in the next two years. There are a few candidate sites where RCA has confirmed that the land managers are in favor of designation and where required studies in support of an application have either been initiated, nearly completed, or can be quickly conducted.
The Telescope Library has acquired two 7-amp hour Power Tanks which can supply 150 watts of AC power. Increasingly, telescopes are coming to rely on electricity, and as we move to more contemporary telescopes in the library, one deficiency of our collection that is becoming clear is the lack of electric power supplies that we can loan out with telescopes. While many of our instruments can operate on AA or D size batteries, is this expensive, either for RCA, or for each borrower. Not only is the cost high, but the lifetime of batteries is small, some telescope really draw power. Some scopes can draw all the power out of the batteries they operate with in a single night of observing, maybe less. By acquiring power supplies with more capacity, we provide reliable sources of power for our telescopes, and the payback time for these power sources is rapid — under a year, given the number of loans we are making.
Date: Saturday, August 31, 2019 Time: 8:30 pm - 11:00 pm Location: Stub Stewart State Park
Are you new to observing? Have you always wanted to take a telescope out but didn't know where to start? Our second Intro to Observing class of the 2019 season is coming up in August! Come learn about how telescopes work, how to find constellations in the sky, and how to point a telescope for a closer look at deep-sky objects. 8 slots are available. Please email email@example.com to reserve your spot and for further details.
This class is ideal for members who have never or rarely used a telescope and would like to become more comfortable observing the night sky. You do not need to have a telescope to attend and participate. We will be providing and observing with Dobsonians, so if you have a Dobsonian with a Telrad or dot finder, you are welcome to bring it (please check with us first!). Everyone will be able to work with a telescope throughout the evening. Responses exceeding the 8 available slots will be placed on a waiting list.
The Juniper Flats Fire Department, which protects our observing site at Maupin, is now requiring us to do what we do at Oregon Star Party: carry five gallons of water dedicated to fire suppression, a shovel and an ax. This is going to affect us when we use the Wapinitia Airfield (Maupin) for an RCA star party. The policy is based on regulations set forth by the Oregon Dept. of Forestry which are similar to the US Forest Service requirements enforced at OSP.
We don't expect our members to fight wildfires, but to use common sense and have the water and capabilities to be able to extinguish a very small spot fire before it gets out of control and becomes a safety hazard. More than once, we've actually used our five gallons and shovels and axes at OSP. Your goal will be to protect yourself long enough to get packed up and out of the area. Please find the attached flyer. As the rules change, we will update you.