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 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.

Awards for 2021 Franklin Loehde Award for Project of the Year

No-one can deny that 2021 was a very tough year. In the spring of 2020 we had all marched into our homes confidently to battle Covid, like the British troops who had marched off to Europe at the beginning of World War One: home by Christmas! A year later, and we were still pinned down in our homes, our modern trenches, suffering casualties every day, with no end in sight.

We needed some good news: and it was at that time, March of 2021 that our next award winner conceived of a project that would not only give us that news: it would do so in a lighthearted, entertaining way that would lift our spirits. He called it “News from Space.”

Presented at each Regular meeting, News from Space documents, in a fast paced, entertaining 10 to 15 minute series of seamlessly stitched together film clips, the triumphs and occasional foibles associated with humanity’s adventures into the great beyond.

And in a stroke of comic genius, these events are narrated by Walter Winchell, of all people! And it is comic genius because that voice—the voice of tabloid Hollywood sensationalism of yesteryear—not only captures and focuses our attention on what’s worthy up there, it also serves to bring down to earth the pompous and self-important who would exploit it. Billionaires in Space!

So, for lifting up our spirits so high every month—and it takes a lot of work to do so—the Franklin Loehde Award for Project of the Year goes to our Past President, Geoff Robertson.