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.

Awards for 2015
President’s Award for Service to the Centre
Cornelia Blunck

2015_service_to_centre_awardSome of our members provide service to the Centre over long periods of time and this person is no exception. For a good decade, this member worked both as a regular Friday Observatory volunteer and as the volunteer scheduling coordinator. Over the years, she acted as den mother for the volunteers crews and worked to improve observatory procedures for things like sign-in logs and inventory of RASC equipment at the deck. She was instrumental in organizing the annual volunteer party. She also volunteered at the annual Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve celebrations and our annual Northern Prairie Start Party, always helping out with gusto. She was on the volunteer team that help stage the very successful RASC General Assembly in Edmonton in 2012. She stepped down last year as volunteer scheduling coordinator after providing exemplary service for many years, so it is with gratitude that I give the President’s Award for Service to the Centre for 2015 to Cornelia Blunck.

Awards for 2015
Observer of the Year Award
Mike Noble

2015_observer_wardThis member challenged himself to observe and image as many nights as possible in 2015. Judging by his numerous posts to Astro, I would say he was out practically every clear night. He observes mostly with a camera, but Mike Noble is out just about every night putting on a lot of kilometers looking at something. During the 2015 noctilucent cloud season for example, he observed and imaged NLC’s on 44 of 49 nights during which NLC’s were present. His efforts to travel to clear skies and monitor the skies with digital cameras, yielded what is probably an all-time record for NLC sightings in one season. This avid observer also alerted many of us to auroral displays and routinely gave excellent descriptions of what he saw from many and varied places in Alberta. So, it is my pleasure to award the Observer of the Year for 2015 to Mike Noble.

Awards 2015
Bryce Heartwell Memorial Award for
Excellence in Astroimaging
Alister Ling

2015_astroimaging_wardI got back into astroimaging in 2007 because of a series of articles that this member published in our Stardust newsletter. At that time, he was already an old hand at imaging skyscapes, many featuring the Moon. Since then, this person has furthered many imaging techniques including timelapses, 3D stereo pairs, 3D timelapse movies, and High Dynamic Range techniques for lunar skyscape photography. He posts the results his of imaging work to various forums and always provides interesting commentary of the image and the trials and tribulations of the techniques involved. He has always been always generous with his time, and sharing his astroimaging knowledge, and offering advice to newby astroimagers. Of late, this person has started writing for our newsletter again on the topic of astroimaging. I know that my own astroimaging has benefited greatly by my collaborations with him over the years. You have all seen his work projected on the dome of this theatre in many editions of Astroimaging Corner. For his many fine contributions to the art and for keeping us well informed on his achievements, it’s my great pleasure to present the 2015 Bryce Heartwell Memorial Award for Excellence in Astroimaging to Alister Ling.

Awards for 2015
George Moores Memorial Award for
Excellence in Public Education
Sherrilyn Jahrig

Sherrilyn Jahrig has been an Observatory volunteer and summer contract worker since 1996. She was integral to our MarsWatch event in summer of 2003, one of the most successful outreaches in the deck’s history. The following spring she received the Nate Ragosin Memorial Award recognizing the volunteer of the year within TWoSE.

She has been involved in the BHDSP from concept in 2004 to realization to the current day. Earliest meetings that I can remember were at TWoSE in 2004. She was one of the main drivers on the RASC Edmonton Centre committee that got the Dark Sky Preserve up and running in 2006 – a major achievement that was recognized with the Centre’s public education award that year.

In the years since it was declared, Sherrilyn has served the Centre internally as our DSP Coordinator, and externally on the BHDSP Working Group — a group she chaired for a number of years. In both capacities she has been instrumental in organizing the annual BHDSP public star party at Elk Island NP &/or Miquelon Lake PP, including coordinating RASC volunteers who provide the lion’s share of humanpower for this event.

Besides Beaver Hills, Sherrilyn played a role in the declaration of Jasper Dark Sky Preserve and Wood Buffalo Dark Sky Preserve, ratified in 2011 and 2013 respectively. She has also been a driving force behind the Light Efficient Communities Coalition, a second partnership between RASCEC and other invested community groups which held extensive talks with the City of Edmonton to achieve the City’s Light Efficient Community policy in 2013.

Sherrilyn has championed the night sky in various other undertakings, which include artistic as well as scientific pursuits. These include a night sky photography exhibit she organized at City Hall and astronomy-themed artistic installations at Pyramid Lake Island at the annual Jasper Dark Sky Festival.

It is for these impressive and long-standing efforts that I award the 2015 George Moores Memorial Award for Public Education to Sherrilyn Jahrig.