2010 General Assembly Report - Chris Gainor

Website archive 1995-2013

Victoria Centre is part of the national Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, which is dedicated to bringing information about astronomy to the general public.

Advanced Search


Image Gallery
Online Articles
Observing Highlights




RASC General Assembly 2010
Fredericton, New Brunswick
30 June - 4 July 2010

Report by Chris Gainor
Victoria Centre National Rep

The first RASC General Assembly ever held in New Brunswick will be remembered for first-rate Maritimes hospitality, discussions of the future, and the emergence of a new look for the national office of the RASC.

The GA took place in Fredericton on the campus of the University of New Brunswick, the site of Canada's first astronomical observatory. But the organizers put the accent on the future with several presentations that focused on building the RASC and the hobby of astronomy in the 21st century.

Victoria Stars

For members of the Victoria Centre, the high point of the GA was near the end of the closing banquet, when outgoing National President Dave Lane announced the final award of the evening. This was a new award, the RASC President's Award, which is chosen by the National President for an especially deserving member.

Dave announced that the 2010 award was going to our own Sid Sidhu for his incredible work organizing International Year of Astronomy activities in and around Victoria. Dave said he was impressed when he saw Sid's work during his visit to Victoria last fall. Since Sid wasn't at the GA, I accepted the award in his place.

Two other Victoria RASCals also took a prominent role in the GA. The RASC's Honourary President, Jim Hesser, and our centre's First Vice President, Lauri Roche, took part in a panel discussion on the RASC in the 21st Century. Along with other speakers, Jim and Lauri talked about how to attract members of the public to our hobby and how to keep their interest alive.

Jim attended the meeting with his wife Betty, and Alex Schmid and his mother Maria rounded out the Victoria delegation to the GA.

RASC Business

A new executive took office headed by Mary Lou Whitehorne of Nova Scotia, the fifth woman to serve as National President and the first in nearly twenty-five years. The GA also marked the debut of the RASC's first-ever Executive Director, Deborah Thompson, who had just started the job two days before the GA began.

The RASC Annual General Meeting ratified a proposal from National Council to increase dues by $3.00 a year starting later this year. It is also expected that dues will be increased by another $3.00 next year, although that will have to be approved by council and next year's annual general meeting. The dues increases will cover the salary of the new executive director, who among other things is being charged with looking for new sources of funding and with making the national RASC more efficient and effective.

Compared to recent National Council meetings that featured discussions on increasing dues and the desirability of hiring an executive director, the agenda for National Council at this GA was relatively light. Nevertheless, council approved a new Dark Sky Preserve in Kejimkujik National Park in Nova Scotia. Council also made improvements to the national public speaker's program, which provides funding for speakers at centre meetings. As well, council discussed better management of funds under the society's control.

During the council meeting, I announced Victoria Centre's plan to host the 2014 GA as part of our own centennial celebrations. The meeting was also told about next year's GA, which will take place in Winnipeg on the July 1st weekend.

A second National Council meeting at the GA renewed the memberships of our national committees. I have joined the RASC History Committee.

The panel discussion that included Jim and Lauri was not the only part of the meeting that looked to the future. Many presentations also dealt with this theme, including Jim Hesser's talk on follow-up activities to the International Year of Astronomy. Mary Lou Whitehorne also gave a memorable talk about the importance of the RASC's work in education and public outreach as a means of promoting scientific literacy amongst the public. Audio recording available from David Levy's website: go to  Lets Talk Stars and scroll down to the bottom where you'll see the title "The Future of the RASC" dated 7/8/10.

Other Activities

Most people who attended the GA took a tour of the wooden building on campus that served as Canada's first astronomical observatory in 1850. The observatory was built by William Brydone Jack (1819-1886), who among other things was also the first president of the University of New Brunswick.

New Brunswick borders the Bay of Fundy, which is famous for its great tidal range. Many delegates took a tour to the Hopewell rocks, flowerpot-shaped rocks created by the tides, and viewed these rocks at both high and low tides. Later in the GA, Dr. Roy Bishop, the former longtime editor of the Observer's Handbook, gave a talk explaining the physics of the Bay of Fundy's tides.

The GA's best-known speaker was one of Dr. Bishop's former students. David Levy reviewed his career as an observer and comet hunter in an inspiring presentation.

Other activities included a day long sailing trip from St. Andrews by the Sea, where delegates saw Minke whales, porpoises, and sea lions. The tours rounded out a busy, productive and enjoyable General Assembly.


� 2014 Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Victoria Centre
All text and images are Copyright their respective owners
Victoria Centre adheres to our National Privacy Policy
Website: archive.victoria.rasc.ca - Contact us

RASC Victoria Centre does not endorse nor is responsible for the content of external websites. External links will open in a new window.
Last updated: January 29, 2014

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada is dedicated to the promotion of astronomy and its related sciences; we espouse the scientific method, and support dissemination of discoveries and theories based on that well-tested method.

Web hosting & email services provided by Matthew Watson