PRESIDENT/EDITORíS REPORT

Well, I’m finally back on time with Nova Notes and it feels good.

Take note of the Notice of Change to the Constitution which follows this report.

In the last few weeks some great progress (helped out by the lousy observing weather!) on our Observatory Project has been done. Two meetings of the committee occurred in which a rough design has been “hashed out”. The orientation of the observatory relative to North has also been decided. The current plan is for a 12’ x 16’ warm-room/clubhouse followed by a 12’ x 20’ roll-off-roof observatory all on a concrete slab. We hope to meet with the Hants West Development Office shortly — after which a building permit will be applied for.


PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO THE CENTRE’S CONSTITUTION

At the annual meeting to be held on November 17th (see the announcement on the back cover), the following motion will be presented to the membership:

Its is moved that Clause 8.06 (2) be replaced with the following: “No person may hold the office of Secretary, Treasurer, or National Council Representative for more than five consecutive terms, but such person may be re-elected after a lapse of one year.”

This motion was passed by the executive council at its January 21st, 1994 meeting. It was proposed because it was felt that the current three-year term limit was too short. In recent years, it has been difficult to fill some executive positions and some constitutionally-forced “removals” were necessary even though the individual was doing an excellent job and wished to continue. The Treasurer and National Council Representative positions also benefit greatly from continuity because of the learning curve required.


ABIGWEIT AUTUMNAL ASTRONOMICAL ADVENTURE:

BY WILLIAM THURLOW, Observing Chairman, ACAC (also member of RASC, Halifax Centre)

The Athena Community Astronomy Club, Summerside, PEI, held the first annual AAAA on the weekend of September 29-30, 1995, at club member Ron Perry’s cottage on Grand River, PEI. A number of ACAC members came for the first night. Observing was naked eye and binocular only because of persistent haze and some clouds. Minimum visual magnitude was 5.3-5.5 in the clearest part of the sky (near the zenith and pole).

Three members returned along with a few other members and three children for the second night of viewing and were rewarded with far better skies, which even improved after midnight. Low southern clouds permitted M77 but canceled attempts to see NGC253, 247, 288, etc. However M33 was the best any of us had ever seen, and many other objects were great, including M78, 77, 76, 74, 33, 31, 32, 110, 97, 108, 109, 81, 82, 92, and a number of others.

Jupiter (yellow, red, and bluish green) with its Galilean moons very close to the horizon and Saturn with its clear line of returning ring visibility were also enjoyed. The main observing was with binoculars and “Big Red”, a trailer mounted 17.5” f4.5 Dobsonian. A Meade 8” gave good views; however, its computer guidance system still has serious glitches even though it had just been returned from the factory.

The Athena Club hopes to have another AAAA in 1996. It is open to all interested in astronomy. We hope some Charlottetown and a few NS and N.B. astronomers will be able to attend next year.


CREATIVE PHYSICS

BY AN UNNAMED PHYSICS STUDENT

The following is a response to a P1450 (Dal Physics) Final Exam:

Q: Describe what a distant observer sees as an astronaut descends toward a black hole. What does the astronaut see during the same descent?
A: "That's Putting Your Foot in Your Mouth" or "Why Me?"

A Tragedy in One Act

The shuttle having abandoned him, Fred is feeling anxious and has trouble keeping his attention on his study of density in accretion disks. He feels the NASA scandal IS for real, that there is no Santa Claus and that if he EVER finds those shuttle pilots again.... Fred witnesses the material and debris toward the centre of the disk pulled apart, and, through his special visor, he can detect that the pulling apart of this matter is generating tremendous heat. This is why Black Holes are thought to emit X-rays. He feels a slight tingling in his toes as they unwillingly move away from his knee caps. His body is tearing apart as he moves closer and closer to the event horizon.

Fred (helpless):

I'll fear no more the heat o' the Sun, My weary heart lost, sweet gravity has won.
Encumbered and touched - no! Kissed by a higher heat
Oh to feel the grass beneath my feet, to hold just once
My unborn child. Instead of this, I am to bear
The removal of my underwear and all things sacred
Under there, which dangle now a yard or two,
Oh, I'll never bask in Honolulu, never own a dog named Blue.
I'll never drink that beer or two, now that my hand
Can't reach my throat. I'll fear no more the heat of
The Sun, I'm pulled apart, I can see my tongue and
All the Freeze-dried I had for lunch. Adieu, Adieu.

Now thinner than a DNA strand, and longer than a thousand tapeworms, Fred is no more.

This was written by a student whom the Dal Physics prof tried to contact for permission to publish, but, alas, he had left town with no forwarding address. Or could he possibly be astronaut Fred?


1995 WINDSOR GENERAL ASSEMBLY:

BY TIM MULLINGS
Reprinted from the July/August issue of Scope (Toronto Centre)

The 1995 General Assembly of the RASC was hosted by the Windsor Centre and held at the University of Windsor from June 29th to July 2nd, 1995.

This year’s GA began with a variety of events and field trips including the Detroit-Windsor Freedom Festival Fireworks display on Wednesday evening, a tour of Fort Malden and the Pelee Island Winery on Thursday, and a historical tour of Windsor and a visit to Point Pelee National Park on Friday. The wine and cheese party was held Friday evening, which as I understand turned into a pre-GA Meeting workshop! Several delegates commented later that more of these informal discussions should take place at future GA’s.

Saturday was paper session day. The morning included talks on ‘The Southern Sky: Activities After the November 3rd Solar Eclipse’ by Robert Dick; ‘Digital Imaging’ by Rajiv Gupta; ‘Astronomy over Three Centuries’ by John E. Kennedy; ‘Wideband Photometry of Mars During the 1994/95 Opposition’ by Richard Schmude; and ‘Light Pollution Abatement: Successes in Ottawa’ by Robert Dick.

The afternoon paper session included talks on ‘Observing the Quadrantid Meteor Shower: An Update’ by Paul Gray; ‘Photometry Work’ by Paul Boltwood; ‘Have I Seen Pluto? by Raymond Auclair; ‘Roll Off Roof Observatory’ by Al DesRoiser; ‘James Craig Watson (1838-1880)’ by Peter Broughton; ‘Supernova Scotia 1995F’ by David Lane and Paul Gray; and ‘Eclipse over the Andes’ by Glenn Hawley.

Saturday evening was the ever popular Murphy Slide Show and Song Contest. Numerous delegates showed slides of varying degrees of murphyism and the most popular item, a video of the 95’ GA Pyramid. The song contest was, as always, a lot of fun with participants from the Ottawa Centre, the Kingston Centre, the newly aligned Halipeg (or Winnifax) Centre (Halifax-Winnipeg Centres), and the immortal team of David Levy and Peter Jedicke.

Sunday brought the 1995 General Assembly Meeting, a short National Council meeting, and the 95’ GA Awards Banquet. The Chant Medal was awarded to Paul Boltwood (Ottawa Centre); The Chilton Prize was awarded to both Paul Gray and David Lane (Halifax Centre) for their discovery of Supernova SN1995F; The Service Award was awarded to Patrick Kelly (Halifax Centre) and Ron Gasbarini (Niagera Centre); The Simon Newcomb Award (for 1994) was won by Michael Watson (unattached member); and The Plasket Medal winner was Michael Richer of York University.

The 95’ GA closed with the Ruth Northcott Public Lecture. Each year the GA delegates and members of the public are treated to an amazing lecture and this year was no exception. The guest lecturer this year was the star attraction of the GA, Dr. Carolyn S. Shoemaker, who is credited with the discovery of more than 800 asteroids and has discovered 32 comets including Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9. Prior to the banquet, delegates were treated to an impromptu ‘meet the Shoemakes’ (yes, both Carolyn and Eugene) informal discussion (wow!).

Monday morning was good-byes until next year. Many thanks to the members of the Windsor Centre for their work in organizing the 1995 GA.

If you have never attended a General Assembly before and you enjoy our Regular Meeting and Members’ Night lectures then you owe it to yourself to attend a General Assembly. You get to meet members from across Canada, put faces to some of the names of members you have read and seen images published by, hear some excellent papers and lectures, and have a lot of fun at the same time.

Next year the General Assembly will be hosted by the Edmonton Centre and in 1997 by the Kingston Centre. I can’t wait.

Editor’s Note: A summary of the “business” which occurred at the General Assembly will be in the December issue.


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Last Updated: October 19, 1995 by David Lane, President, Halifax Centre.