RASC Fellowship Award to Dr. Alan Batten.

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Dr. Alan Batten receives the RASC Fellowship Award
Dr. Alan Batten receives the RASC Fellowship Award

Dr. Alan Batten joined the Victoria Centre in 1962, three years after his 1959 arrival in Canada as a postdoctoral fellow at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO) following his undergraduate (St. Andrew’s University) and graduate (University of Manchester) studies in astrophysics. After a highly productive scientific research career, Dr. Batten retired from the DAO as a Senior Research Officer in 1991 to pursue very actively his interests in promoting the development of astronomy and astronomy education in developing countries, studies in the history of science with emphasis on astronomical topics, and the intersections of science and religion in society at large.
His scholarly works over 60 years have been numerous and well referenced (>2,400 citations according to NASA’s ADS). His 89 JRASC contributions span a 47-year period from 1961 to 2008. Besides numerous original research findings on multiple stars and stellar astrophysics, Alan documents many contributions to astronomy by Canadians, as well as the major issues faced by the Society during his leadership years.
Throughout his DAO research career Dr. Batten was an active life member of the Victoria Centre, which continues to this day. He served as Centre president in 1972 and his most recent turn as a featured speaker was December 2015. His experiences at the local level were then elevated to the national level where Dr. Batten served as the RASC President (1976-1978) and then as Editor of the Journal (1980-1988), for which he was recipient of the national Service Award (1988). Reading his many JRASC contributions on Society affairs in those years provides unique insight into the evolution of Canadian astronomy. That 20 of his 89 JRASC contributions were published following receipt of the 1988 Service Award is testimony to his ongoing respect of, and support for, the Society’s publications. That support includes contributing The Nearest Stars section to 40 editions of the Observer’s Handbook (1970-2009). His appointment to a four-year term as the Society’s Honorary President (1993-1997) highlights the Society’s high regard for Dr. Batten.

His presentations are exemplary expositions on his most recent studies in history of astronomy and his reflections upon developments in society at large as viewed from the unique perspective of a distinguished astronomer. He also delivers lectures on astronomy-related topics organized through other organizations to the benefit of members of the Victoria Centre and the public at large. Dr. Batten’s generosity has been a great benefit to many with whom he has willingly shared his time and expertise over nearly six decades of active participation in, and leadership of, Canadian astronomy.
The experiences of leading both CASCA and the RASC as national, bilingual, astronomy organizations in a geographically challenging country prepared Dr. Batten well for representing Canadian astronomy in the broadest sense during subsequent decades of forefront service to the International Astronomical Union (IAU). Following his role in organizing the first-ever IAU General Assembly to be held in Canada (1979), he served as an IAU Vice President (1985-91). During that period and for many years subsequently, Dr. Batten shared his accumulated experience from RASC, CASCA, and scientific research collaborations to promote the development of astronomy education and research in countries previously missing it from their educational systems. Over a decade he travelled extensively to work closely with national leaders and extensively documented the lessons learned. His success reflects his abiding interests in people, their diverse cultures and world views.

Warmest congratulations to Dr Batten from everyone at RASC-Victoria Centre!

President’s Message June 2016

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June! It started off more like Juneuary, but as I write this, it’s full-on summer heat outside, and
the first clear Saturday evening for our summer star parties at the DAO since we opened.
Despite the first three Saturdays being clouded out, we still had more than one hundred visitors
join us at the DAO for our terrific indoor activities. Nice! That’s due entirely to the efforts of
volunteers from RASC-Victoria, and also FDAO, and UVic-Science Venture, and our guest
I take a break from writing this report, and head off to the DAO; it was wonderful! Warm, clear,
evening, lots of visitors, and of course RASC members to wow them with their enthusiasm and
knowledge. We needed a night like that! It also gave us our first real test of our new EventBrite
ticketing system and gate procedures, which worked as planned. Let’s hope the rest of the
series goes as well. We have an incredible lineup of guest speakers this summer, so if you
can’t help out as a RASC volunteer, tell your friends and family and come on up as a visitor!
One more Saturday evening on the hill before we take a break for two weeks, due to the lack of
darkness in the evening. This is where I’d really like to see a return to Standard Time all year;
most people like the lingering light in the evening, but it’s a bane to astronomers, and especially
for public outreach events. Also, for the same reason, most of our scheduled events for RASC
members are -or will soon be- on hiatus for the summer.
Of course, one highlight of the year is the RASCals Star Party, which will be on the weekend or
August 26-28 this year, and again will be held on the cricket field behind the district offices here
in Metchosin. I’m pleased to report Maan Hani and Dr. Rita Mann will be reprising their
presentations at the star party, and we will also have our usual activities and door prizes. There
is never a fee to attend, and you can camp on the field all weekend, or drop in as you wish.
Our Victoria Centre member Dr Chris Gainor reports that at the recent RASC National General
Assembly, Dr. Alan Batten (past President of the Victoria Centre, past President of RASC
National, former director of the DAO, and many, many other professional accomplishments) was
proclaimed a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Warmest congratulations to
Dr. Batten for this well-deserved honour!
This is my final monthly message until September. It’s been quite a year so far, marked by
frustrating weather, amazing public outreach (in spite of the frustrating weather!), terrific
meetings and guest speakers. Thank you all so much for all you do for RASC-Victoria and
astronomy in Victoria, and I wish you all a gentle summer filled with clear, sparkling skies.

SPEAKER: Exploring exoplanetary systems with the Gemini Planet Imager – Zach Draper

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June 8, 2016, 7:30PM, University of Victoria, Bob Wright Centre A104 – RASC Victoria Centre’s monthly meeting

Event info

“Exploring exoplanetary systems with the Gemini Planet Imager” – Zach Draper, UVic Astronomy

An accurate artist impression of the kind of planetary systems I'll be talking about
An accurate artist impression of the kind of planetary systems I’ll be talking about

The Gemini Planet Imager is an instrument designed to directly image exoplanets and circumstellar disks around nearby stars. Partially built here in Victoria, it is now conducting a 600 hour survey at the Gemini-South observatory in Chile. I will discuss how the instrument works and highlight some of its recent discoveries.

Bio: Zack Draper is a second year PhD student at the University of Victoria, where he also received his Masters in 2012. His focus of study are debris disks (collisionally active, asteroid belts) around other stars. He is also member of the Gemini Planet Imager Exoplanet Survey.