Awards for 2021 George Moores Memorial Award for Excellence in Public Education

Public Education is important because it is one of the key activities that the RASC Edmonton Centre delivers that qualifies the Centre for casino proceeds.

As everyone is aware, this pandemic has made it extremely difficult for any organization to fulfill their public education mandate, and the RASC Edmonton Centre unfortunately was no exception.

Nonetheless, in 2021 many organizations contemplated the idea of restarting their public oriented programming and one of those organizations was Tourism Jasper and the Jasper Dark Sky Festival (JDSF). Uncertainty as to whether or not the 2021 JDSF was actually a GO continued right up to only a couple of weeks before the event was to begin. Regardless of these, and many, many other challenges, the JDSF Committee quickly rose to the occasion. They assembled a team of volunteers, created an observing program, confirmed accommodations, planned meals and extracurricular activities and successfully delivered the RASC Night of Observing event! So it is with great pleasure that this years George Moores Memorial Award for Excellence in Public Education goes to Marion and Alan Hobbs and Monica and Chris Meerveld.

Awards for 2020 George Moores Memorial Award for Excellence in Public Education

2020 did not see much in the way of our traditional public education programs. The RASCO was closed most of the year, there was no in person events of any sort, so we had to improvise. One member in particular has done this very well in this unusual year. Whether it’s giving telescope help to guiding people through the observe the universe certificate requirements, all online, this member has shown a dedication to public education, which is part of our mission statement.

This year’s George Moores Memorial Award for Excellence in Public Education goes to Alister Ling.

Awards for 2020 Bryce Heartwell Memorial Award for excellence in Astro Imaging

I really had a time with this one. There are so many talented imagers in our centre. As some of you know in my younger days I use to make Super 8mm stop motion movies. I was no Steven Spielberg, They weren’t that great and the stories I put on film were kind of stupid, but it was something I enjoyed doing because it was something I could say I made.

Astroimaging in the digital age is something like making a film. Collecting the image is an important part but it’s the processing that really brings out the detail. This past year I have been very impressed by some wide field images made by our winner. Not only are they great images after posting them on Astro he’s gone to great lengths answering questions and explaining the process that created them, even if some didn’t quite grasp the concepts. So this year’s Bryce Heartwell Memorial Award for excellence in Astro Imaging goes to Arnold Rivera.

Awards for 2020 Observer of the Year

 

Our center has a number of gifted observers. I read your reports on Astro or in Stardust and am impressed by your dedication and attention to detail, a skill that I must presume takes years effort to master. Of the reports I read one in particular jumped out at me, 2000 NCG’s. To accomplish that feat is something I could never imagine myself doing. This observer has also conceived and executed a Messier marathon – marathon where 110 objects are observered and running 42km in a single night. I have to sit down for a few minutes after just setting my scope up. So this year’s Observer of the Year award goes to Warren Finlay.

Awards for 2020 President’s Award for Service to the Centre

I first got to know the recipient of this award at the first Jasper Dark Sky Festival. We were assigned to set up telescopes on the Pyramid Lake Island. This involved several trips up and down some switch backs a narrow bumpy path, a bridge to the island and another narrow bumpy path on the island. We both had a lot of equipment and I had a handcart which we shared. Neither of us remembers that night fondly as it was a real pain to move our scopes on and off that island.

The recipient who has been the keeper of the books for the past eight years is stepping aside this year.  He has also coordinated our contribution to the JDSF including conceiving and executing the red light walkway and assigned telescope targets to our volunteers at the JDSF. His contribution on council and to the overall operation of our Centre has been invaluable. This year’s President’s Award for Service to Edmonton Centre goes to Jay Lavender

Awards for 2021 Bryce Heartwell Memorial Award for Excellence in Astroimaging

We are lucky to have a sizeable group of experienced and talented astroimagers in our club. So picking the astroimager of the year was in some ways a difficult decision for the awards committee.

On the other hand, as we started discussing the matter, it became apparent that this year there was a clear winner. Even though our choice hasn’t won the award since 2008.

A long time has passed since then, even though his work has earned 4 APODs. Four!

Although, to the Award committee’s credit, we made our selection before the fourth, and all the well deserved media attention.

You all know who I’m speaking about. This year’s winner of the Bryce Heartwell Memorial Award for excellence in astroimaging is the inimitable Luca Vanzella.

Congratulations, Luca!

Awards for 2021 Observer of the Year Award

Our recipient this year is a visual observer with a difference: she makes meticulous logbook entries, including sketching what she sees at the eyepiece. And she shares them with us on Facebook, and on the Astro email group.

She does this for a noble purpose, right in line with our mission: as she said on a Facebook post on the Centre FB page exactly one year ago:

“I am thinking that this year I am going to start sharing my visual astronomy logbook entries in this site. I am hoping to motivate people new to the visual astronomy hobby by sharing my experiences. This way others can learn what is up in the sky, what can one see from the city etc … I hope that other visual astronomers will start sharing their observing sessions too.”

And so she did.

Keeping logbooks and sketching objects seen through a telescope has a long and honourable history, of course, going right back to Galileo.

Indeed, if Galileo were to come back today and become a member of our Centre—which he undoubtedly would—he would be amazed by our astroimagers, and I’m sure he would sign up for our Astroimaging cafes.

But he would want to go to dinner with the sketchers.

And sit right next to Berta Beltran.

It is my honour to present the 2021 Observer of the Year award to Berta Beltran.

Awards for 2021 President’s Award for Service to the Centre

This year’s President’s Award for Service to the Centre goes to an unsung hero.

As you know, since it was formed in 1932 our club has run entirely by volunteers.

All of the governance, all of the programs, every touch of the pen or the keyboard—all done without thought of compensation or other reward.

But even in the midst of all of this selfless dedication our awardee’s contributions stand out.

Stardust, our club newsletter, has been in publication almost continuously since 1954. It’s as old as I am—67 years!

And has been a remains an integral part of who we are as an organization.

Yes, we have Facebook, and Instagram, and Twitter, and the Astrolist. And of course these are very popular. But ultimately their nature is to be short and ephemeral—read quickly and then replaced by something else.

On the other hand, issues of Stardust allow for more thoughtful explorations of topics and extended records of our activities—and they get catalogued and preserved (another task accomplished by our recipient). They remain as an enduring celebration of the Centre’s existence.

Since 1954 Stardust has had many editors, of course. And I thank them all for their past service.

But most did it for one or two years, the longest stretch being 7 years.

Which brings us to this year’s recipient.

Michael Ward has been producing and editing Stardust since 2005—16 straight years!

Need I say more?

This year’s recipient of the President’s Award for Service to the Centre is Michael Ward.