Awards for 2016
George Moores Memorial Award for
Excellence in Public Education
Bruce McCurdy

Bruce McCurdy has been a long-time member of the Centre, serving in just about every capacity on Council and in volunteering. In mid-2013, he took the reins of our Twitter feed and turned it into an excellent social media source of local astronomy news for the Edmonton area. His timely tweets about what’s in the skies over Edmonton, upcoming astronomy events, and thoughtful retweets keep more than 1400 followers informed and looking up. Often, Bruce’s multi-part tweets give our followers short astronomy lessons on topics like Earth’s changing seasons, orbital oddities, and why things in the sky look the way they do. To me, the way Bruce handles the twitter feed is an excellent example of how an astronomy club’s twitter presence should be: on point, timely, non-spammy, and educational. So in the parlance…

To @BruceMcCurdy, 4 a great @EdmontonRASC #astronomy feed for #yeg, I award the 2016 George Moores Memorial Award for Public Education.

Awards for 2016
President’s Award for Service to the Centre
Jay Lavender

This member has conducted a tremendous amount of astronomy outreach over the years, helping the Centre deliver on its outreach mission. Sidewalk astronomy, school visits, major events like the Beaver Hills DSP Star Party and the Jasper Dark Sky Festival – this person has volunteered for just about everything. Thanks to this member’s hard work, we have stepped up our outreach game so we now can have a more professional appearance and a solid backup program in case of inclement weather.

This member pitches in whenever and wherever help is required. From delivering refreshments for our meetings, to signing up for a talk for to help the fledgling Astro Café series, to playing devil’s advocate when needed in Executive meetings, to last year when the Centre needed someone to step in and coordinate one of our biggest outreach events, stepping up immediately and doing a great job (along with his wife of course).

This member has also kept a watchful eye on the Centre’s books for the past four years, ensuring that we spend money wisely and within the arcane rules of the AGLC. And he has signed up for another term as Treasurer, continuing to run a tight ship on financial matters.

I have always been able to bounce ideas on and get second, and sometimes third, opinions from this member. This has helped me immensely in my term as President. For all of these things and many others that I have not mentioned, it is with gratitude that I give the President’s Award for Service to the Centre for 2016 to Jay Lavender.

Awards for 2016
Observer of the Year Award
Warren Finlay

I have known this member for almost 10 years, but I started to get to know him well at the David Thompson Bicentennial Star Party in Jasper when, observing through partly cloudy skies, we debated about the star Algieba (hence known as the great Algieba Fiasco of 2011). This person is an accomplished observer. In fact, this individual is a bit of a renaissance man – scientist, author, athlete, musician, observer, astroimager, and oh yeah, bagpiper. Over the years, this person has been the driving force for establishing a dark sky observatory for the Centre.

At one point during the 2015 Glacier Skywalk Astronomy Tour, the idea of combining a Messier Marathon with a running marathon came up. We were kidding around at the time, but it turned out this person was serious, because by March 2016, he and I found ourselves at La Perouse, Maui, Hawaii to conduct the first-ever Bimarathon – an event conceived by this person that combines the Messier Marathon (observing 110 deep-sky objects) and a regular running marathon (running 42.195 km).

Starting at sunset March 9, 2016, he began running and interspersed 6 running sessions with 5 telescope/binocular observing sessions, running a distance of 42.2 km and observing the required 110 deep-sky objects before local sunrise on March 10, 2016. He observed about half of the objects in a manually operated 10″ Dobsonian telescope and the remainder of the objects with binoculars, except for a handful that he observed naked eye.

For successfully completing this unique mental and physical challenge, it is my pleasure as a fellow observer, to award the Observer of the Year for 2016 to Warren Finlay.

Awards for 2016
Angus Smith Award for Excellence in Telescope Making and Design
Roman Unyk

This veteran member of the Centre is, shall we say, “handy” with tools. And he has, shall we say, “a bit of a workshop”. Last year, this member started with a 1970’s era, orange-tube Celestron 14” telescope that was in less than ideal condition. He member stripped it down, cleaned the optics, replaced worn out mechanical parts with parts he machined himself, and repaired the old-style electronic “clock drive”. When he put it all back together again, he had restored and upgraded a classic telescope to mint-condition. At the September 2016 meeting, he presented his project to us and I was amazed at how thorough and excellent a job he had done. In an age where “replace” rather than “repair” is the order of the day, this member executed a telescope restoration project that is definitely “old school”.

For this project, which I believe is deserving of the classical ATM label for “Amateur Telescope Making”, I am happy to present the Angus Smith Award for Excellence in Telescope Making and Design to Roman Unyk.

Awards 2016
Bryce Heartwell Memorial Award for
Excellence in Astroimaging
Franklin Loehde

In December 2009, this member took a picture of the Orion Nebula using the SLOOH robotic telescope in the Canary Islands, all from the comfort of his home in Edmonton. The June 2010 issue of Stardust published the image along with an article written by this member, explaining how Centre members could do the same thing and how multiple such images could be combined to bring out details in both the outer regions and the core of the nebula. Thus began an odyssey of using his trusty iPhone to capture astroimages using robotic telescopes and to process the images with the FilterStorm app. Over the years, this member’s images have graced the covers and pages of many issues of Stardust and have been displayed on the dome of this theatre in many editions of Astroimaging Corner.

For demonstrating how astroimaging and image processing can be done by interested people without expensive equipment, just an internet connection an inexpensive subscription, and an image processing app that can be purchased for few dollars, it’s my great pleasure to present the 2016 Bryce Heartwell Memorial Award for Excellence in Astroimaging to Franklin Loehde.

Awards for 2016
Franklin Loehde Award for Project of the Year
BNLO Committee

The RASC Edmonton Centre’s has owned a member-built 18” Newtonian telescope since 1988. For many years, the telescope saw a great deal of use by members and was used extensively for public outreach events. However, in recent years the telescope was little used and sat in our storage locker. In 2016, the re-energized Black Nugget Lake Observatory (BNLO) Committee proposed a project to relocate the Club 18” telescope to the BNLO sea can to enable it to be used by Centre members at a dark site. The project was executed by the BNLO Committee with skill and enthusiasm in five months, in time for the Northern Prairie Star Party, where the telescope was dedicated as the Barry Arnold Memorial Telescope. I have since used the BAMT a couple of times and it is certainly a joy to drive out to a dark site where a large, already assembled telescope awaits star light.

The process for a dark site observatory originally started in 2005 when the BNLO pitch was first made to Beaver County Council. Including the time before that to get the original go ahead from Edmonton RASC Council, it’s taken one Jupiter year to get BNLO up and running with a telescope (which sounds a lot better than 12 Earth years!). This project has produced a fine result that nicely complements the previous work of dedicated RASC members over the years in building previous incarnations of this telescope and in preparing the BNLO site. And there is more to come.

I am happy and grateful to present the 2016 Franklin Loehde Award for Project of the Year award to the BNLO Committee: Warren Finlay (chair), Susan & Rick Bramm, Kent Martens, and Roman Unyk.