Here’s hoping for all of us and ours a happy and healthy new year, complete with dozens upon dozens of observing opportunities; opportunities which are traditionally completely lacking here in the months of October, November and December. This being a “new beginning,” at least insofar as the calendar is concerned, it is a good time to remind ourselves of what lies ahead of us for the next two years, plus pat ourselves on the back a bit.
First is continuing public outreach. Our tent with telescopes set up in front has become a fixture at local events of all kinds. Name an event, a fair, a celebration, a hobby festival, and we are likely there, a hard-core group of members gathered together by Sid and Sherry to share their enthusiasm for astronomy with the public. Our gathering last June in front of the BC Museum with a dozen telescopes to see and show others the Transit of Venus comes to mind. And not only are we on the street, and on summer evenings at the Centre of the Universe, or at UVic on Astronomy Day, we are in the classroom. Sid and Lauri and their School Telescope Program boggle the mind. Throughout the school year they assist teachers with astronomy teaching and, if they are lucky, present night sky viewing events for students and parents. These outreach efforts are the almost the “soul” of our club.
Next is at least one ongoing “project:” John McDonalds’s plan to confront the issue of light pollution, and put it “on the front burner.” That is just where we have it. A committee led by Mark Bohlman has been involved in at least three major initiatives over the last two years: mapping light pollution throughout Victoria, providing input to the University of Victoria regarding the lighting of its new sports complex and parking structure, and working with the Municipality of Oak Bay regarding the establishment of an Urban Star Park at Cattle Point. Night Lighting
Next are continued observing opportunities. Our own observatory is open to members at least once each week, weather permitting, with an impressive array of telescopes and other equipment. We host a Messier Marathon and a summer star party. We have, for the first time ever, an observing chair, Bill Weir.
To this already impressive schedule, plus our usual schedule of monthly meetings, complete with guest speakers, we have added, for summer 2014, hosting of the RASC National General Assembly, the year chosen to coincide with the centennial year of Victoria Centre. The event will be held at the University of Victoria. A committee is in place, led by Paul Schumacher.
While the effort to keep all of these balls in the air may tax even the considerable dedication of our most enthusiastic members, there is more. At a minimum, we must renew Lauri’s efforts to increase membership and our efforts to help members earn RASC observing certificates.
I have doubtless temporarily forgotten some project or initiative (for example the technical committee’s ongoing effort to enable the VCO for remote operation, but, even so, plenty of work lies ahead. Our reward is a club that we can be proud of, with a long history, that enjoys a fortuitous connection with a university, an observatory, and an institute of astrophysics and what have turned out to be some of the most active astronomers in the world. We are lucky indeed.