From the President
2019 October 2
National Astronomy Meeting
July saw the National Astronomy Meeting take place in Lancaster. Known by the acronym NAM, it is sponsored by the Royal Astronomical Society, but organised by the hosting university. The conference, which runs over several days, is really for professional astronomers but it is an interesting opportunity to see what the latest trends and thinking are in many research fields.
This year I co-organised a session with Dr Dirk Froebrich of the University of Kent, on ‘Pro-am collaborations in astronomy’, to highlight the valuable work that amateurs can contribute to professionals’ projects. We only had a 90-minute session, so it was a challenge to fit in a varied selection of 15-minute talks on various topics. Unfortunately our session was scheduled to be one of the last on the final day and many delegates seemed to depart after lunch, but we did have a good and interested audience. Many thanks go to all who presented talks at the meeting: Dr Tony Cook, Dr Jeremy Shears, Robin Leadbeater, Grant Privett and Trevor Gainey, Dr Matt Darnley of Liverpool John Moores University and Dr Dirk Froebrich.
Next year NAM will be held in Bath, with the dates to be confirmed.
American Astronomical Society
You may have heard earlier this year that the publisher of Sky and Telescope was in financial trouble, but the magazine is now rescued having been bought by the American Astronomical Society (AAS).
I did not know very much about the AAS so went for a browse around their website, and discovered that they offer an ‘amateur affiliate’ membership class to those who are members of ‘affiliated amateur organisations’. The BAA was not on their list, but I enquired of the Society and they were pleased to add us. If you live in North America, or would just like to be a part of the organisation, you can do so by quoting your membership of the BAA to purchase at the reduced rate.
A change at the head of the Variable Star Section
After twenty years as Director of the Variable Star Section (VSS), Roger Pickard has handed over the reins to Jeremy Shears (see report on p. 257). Fortunately, Roger will continue as Assistant Director. Council and I wish to thank Roger for all the hard work and dedication he has put into the Section over all those years.
Final ‘From the President’
This will be my last article in the Journal as President. My term of office comes to an end at the AGM in October. It is amazing to think that two years have passed so quickly. Previous Presidents have noted that two years is quite a short time; you are just getting into your stride when it is time to step away. This is the main reason why we introduced into the new Articles of Association (which come into effect after the AGM) an option for the President’s term to be three years.
I am pleased to say that the overall finances of the Association have never been healthier. However, this is really nothing to do with me, or our esteemed Treasurer; two significant bequests have bolstered our reserves. This does not mean we should not be prudent with our day-to-day spending, but the Council and Board will look for ways in which we can spend some of the money to benefit our members and further our charitable purposes. As mentioned in the annual Report of Council (p. 282), our membership has grown by a small amount this year. This is something we need to continue, by showing that we are relevant to amateur astronomers today in the UK, around Europe, North America and the rest of the World.
Of course, there have been bumps along the road over the past two years, but these have been successfully navigated. No doubt there will be bumps in the future, yet with the talented team we have at Council and Board, these challenges can be worked through. And I would like to thank all those who have supported me during a couple of bouts of illness – it was very much appreciated.
Finally, I want to wish my successor Alan Lorrain all the very best. Alan has been involved with the Association for a long time, was our Treasurer for many years and has been Chair of Basingstoke Astronomical Society. But Alan is also very involved with observing and established the Basingstoke Astronomical Society Expedition Group, which travels to far-off places to observe the night sky.
I am sure Alan will enjoy his time as President, and that he will have the full support of members as he leads us into the 130th year of our Association. I will not be going far away of course and as always I will be happy to chat about all things astronomical – especially the deep sky, which I hope to observe a bit more.
Clear, dark skies to you all.
Callum Potter, President