I must confess that I rather like ‘pretty pictures’, regardless of their scientific value. For me, Astronomy has always been about more than science. In fact I see it as a meeting ground for the sciences, engineering, technology and the humanities (history, biography, mythology – even philosophy).
While I obviously support members who are willing and able to make significant scientific contributions, I do not expect to be able to do much work of that kind myself. I would assume though, given the considerable sum available, that some kind of formal submission process might be needed for the disbursement of funds to support special interest research projects. This would facilitate transparent decision-making and (hopefully) reduce the likelihood of rumblings and grumblings among the disappointed.
I think that apart from spending to support members interests, it would be desirable to invest in the future by fostering interest in Astronomy among the wider public, and especially younger people. Perhaps we could consider something similar to Professor Catherine Heymans’ proposal (the new Astronomer Royal for Scotland), who intends to install telescopes at all Scotland’s remote residential outdoor activity centres for young people.
Just a few thoughts from an even more humble (as more recent) ordinary member than Grant Privett!