At a time when telescopes are commonly computerized, and many people collect photons in their cameras instead of their eyes, it is refreshing to find someone who observes the cosmos without a CCD camera or a goto telescope. Larry Wood is legendary for his eagle-eyes and ability to identify faint fuzzies. Larry is a regular observer at Blackfoot, regularly brings his telescope out to the Victoria promenade for public observing, and answers all sorts of questions on the Astro email list.
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.
This 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.
He’s one of those guys who has all the time in the world…as long as he doesn’t have to leave the house—or so it seems. His most common mode of observing gives him somewhat better chances of attaining success only having to look at one target during the day. His shots of the sun have successively improved, each showing more of the fine structure. Beyond that he also gets out in the night at many events, to show the wonders of the sky to passers-by. More than just a one trick pony! So, it is my pleasure to award the Observer of the Year for 2014 to Jay Lavender.
We don’t have an observer of the decade award to which he could easily be up for. He runs the noctilucent cloud CanAm network and just last year was recognized for having done so for 25 years. The endless barrage of emails we get on Astro always has me standing out on the balcony or roof and has many others reporting in on their sightings. In fact, a quick search on the web for NLCs had his name in 6 of the first 10 results. Just goes to show what these efforts get you!
This individual has been with the club for a few years and has distinguished himself as an avid observer. Many cold nights when I would stay home, he was out at Blackfoot wondering where the rest of us were. He advises the rest of the observers on interesting news items via Astro and freely offers advice to those looking for information on astronomy, buying telescopes or observing. He is also heavily into observing double stars. The Observer of the Year for 2010 is Patrick Heinz.
This individual came to Edmonton for the summer and during that time, he has been very enthusiastic and very active participant in everything he could try. He has spent countless hours at the Observatory and made friends with many people in club very quickly. Although his time here was short, he did a presentation on observing in Iceland at a club meeting as well as doing a presentation at the Northern Prairie Star Party this past summer. He has since returned to Iceland, but in honour of his enthusiasm, I am awarding the Observer of the Year Award to Sverrir Gudmundsson. Unfortunately, Sverrir could not make it to this meeting tonight, so his plaque will be mailed to him.
This year’s Observer of the Year is what can only be described as “dedicated”. He is a regular fixture at Blackfoot, working on his many observing projects. I had the honour of presenting him the Finest NGC Certificate in 2007, and in the past year he has completed 4 other certificates and is currently working on 4 others. The clincher for me, however, in considering him for this award was this e-mail that he posted to the astro list on December 21, 2008 (while most of us were either staying snug in our homes or preparing for Christmas:
“I got to Blkft. last night (Sat.) at 6pm. Humidity 35%, Temp -28C, no wind. Set up the tripod and 15×70 bino’s. Seeing 4/5 good. Transparency 3/5 average. Logged 8 Messier Bino objects. M33 was impressive. I was not successful with M77. Transparency went down hill and by 10pm was below average. Humidity did not change but the temp was at -30C. Left at 10:30pm.”
With this kind of dedication, there should be no doubt that Jnani Cevvel deserves the Observer of the Year award.