AstroNotes 2017 December Vol: 56 issue 10

Editor’s Message . Announcements . Member News . How to Get the Message Out . AstroNotes Bookshelf . Next Meeting . Centre Information



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The Newsletter of the Ottawa Centre, RASC

Volume 56 - No 9 - December 2017

Editor’s Message

Out with the old! This is my last issue as editor. I would reassure anybody who is interested in taking over that it is not an onerous job. You’ll have a template to work from, if you
choose, and an active membership to report on. The biggest task is sending out requests for content, not being offended when they are ignored, but suitably grateful when contributors come through. I will be happy to assist you get started and available to answer questions going forward.

The place of this newsletter in relation to our website and other communication media is currently under discussion so there is a chance to make your mark there. I have broken a
self-imposed rule not to provide content myself by writing an article to highlight that opportunity.

As a parting shot, here’s a little bit of club wisdom I ran across on the interweb, entitled the

Stages of Volunteerism (by G. Ellis).

  • Newbie: You are learning the ropes, grateful for the knowledge and experience of the incumbent volunteers - happy to be part of the team!
  • One of the Gang: With several seasons of experience under your belt, you know how to get things done and who to go to. You are pleased to be making a contribution.
  • Old Hand: You've been doing this a while now, and have made the job your own. People depend on you and you won’t let them down.
  • Tired Old Hand: The time and effort is getting to be a bit much, but what would they do without you? Nobody else could do this job as well, so things would fall apart for sure!
  • Indignant Old Hand: How dare they suggest you do things differently! They don't know what they are talking about, and don’t they realise how much work you’ve done, for FREE?!?! You might just take your marbles and go home.

To paraphrase the message: Volunteering benefits you as much as the group, but do move on when
you get tired. Thus my departure, well before I hit those final two stages.

Clear skies and a Happy Solstice to all!


The Swap Table and Mini Astronomy Fair return! Bring your pre-loved astronomical bits and pieces to the December 1 meeting, and if you would like to have a table to show off your latest project contact

Our Annual General Meeting will also be held on December 1, as part of the monthly meeting. This is your elected Centre Council being accountable to you, so please attend and take part.

There are some great opportunities to get involved. These appointed positions are open and if you would like to volunteer please contact

  • AstroNotes Editor: produce up to 10 electronic issues per year, solicit and edit content including information on local and national events and issues; may also facilitate migration of some newsletter functions to the website.
  • Webmaster(s): Using the Drupal content management system, extend and maintain the website with up-to-date information and solicited content, including meeting and publication archives.
  • Light Pollution Abatement Coordinator: Promote light pollution education and monitor decisions by local decision makers.
  • Public Outreach Coordinator: respond to requests from the public and coordinate Centre-sponsored public outreach activities.

2018 Observer’s Calendars are now in hand – you may purchase yours at the December meeting; price is $16 each, two for $30. A 50 cent surcharge will be applied to credit card purchases.

Mark your calendars with these members-only star party dates: December 16 (tentative), January 20 2018 (crescent moon), February 17 (waning moon), March 17 (new moon, also green stars), April 14 (waning crescent). All these events are held at the Fred Lossing Observatory and all members are welcome to attend. For directions email Gordon Webster.

Member News

New members that we welcomed in November are Christopher Barkley, Ernest Paling and Sheila Reid. Thanks for joining us and we look forward to seeing you at meetings and star parties soon.

How to Get the Message Out?

By Karen Finstad

We as a group have important reasons to communicate amongst ourselves. Members need to know about our joint activities, our services and structure, news from the wider RASC, and to share experiences and knowledge at the Centre level. We also like to communicate directly to the public about our organisation, our activities and our hobby.
We get together each month to communicate face-to-face, and that is an important part of what we are, but of course we don’t depend only on meetings to get information out. In the ‘old days’ the monthly newsletter in hard copy was all we had, but in today’s world we are spoiled for choice when it comes to communication media. We have two email lists, a website and social media, and a digital newsletter. In addition, our Centre is especially lucky in having regular video recordings of our monthly meetings which can be viewed online if you can‘t attend in person.

In this context, it is arguable that for most purposes, a newsletter is redundant and less useful by being tied to a monthly schedule. Time-dependent announcements can be posted to the website or distributed via email at anytime, while information that does not change often is always accessible from a website without having to be republished each month. The public is going to learn about us through social media or the website home page, while our members and Council increasingly turn first to the email lists when they want to reach the group as a whole. On a national level, RASC offers three regular publications for members.
What a Centre newsletter can do better than these other platforms is provide a space to feature longer and more in-depth articles relevant to our group. Whether dealing with a member’s project, special interest, or travel experiences, a speaker’s expansion of material presented at a monthly meeting, or a participant’s recap of a public outreach event, these types of articles can provide a richness and depth to our shared club experience that is not generally found in the other media. However, that supposes that we have enough members willing to write these articles!

Have a look at other RASC Centres’ websites and newsletters, where they can be found online. Some have eliminated their newsletter in favour of a well-structured and constantly updated website. Others continue to produce a newsletter that seems to have vibrantly maintained the same format for decades. Some are struggling to find an effective path. Which direction would you like to see the Ottawa Centre go?

If you have opinions about how and what we communicate to each other, there is an excellent opportunity right now to help structure our Centre’s communication strategy and put our various media platforms to best use, as we need new web team members and a new AstroNotes editor. I challenge you to seize the moment, and look forward to seeing what you can make of it.

AstroNotes Bookshelf

Edited by Janet Tulloch

Each month our librarian, Estelle Rother, chooses one book from our library of about 800 books to feature. The library is located in a cabinet behind the Aviation Museum theatre and is open immediately after meetings. You can also consult the Centre’s website for most of our titles.

Estelle’s Pick for November

Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space
By Janna Levin

Next Meeting

7:30 PM Friday December 1, 2017 at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum (directions). Note there is a $3 parking fee for museum parking. The meeting runs until 9:30 pm.
This month features our Annual General Meeting and elections, astronomical swap table and Mini Astro-Science Fair, including exhibits on telescope making, light pollution abatement and astronomy projects from students of John Abbot College. Also: Ottawa Skies for December, Observer Reports, and of course, the beloved Door Prize!

All RASC monthly meetings are free and open to members and non-members alike. Refreshments are available and this will be a wonderful opportunity to meet new friends who share a common interest and chat in a relaxed, stimulating and fun environment. Please join us!

Centre Information

General enquiries:

To subscribe (or unsubscribe) to our members-only discussion list ( please contact .

The Ottawa Centre 2017 Council

President: Tim Cole (
Vice President: Mike Moghadam
Secretary: Chris Teron (
Treasurer: Oscar Echeverri (
Centre Meeting Chair: Kelly Jordan (
Councilors: Carmen Rush, Gerry Shewan, Jim Sofia
National Council Representatives: Brian McCullough, Robert Dick
Past President: Gordon Webster

2017 Appointed Positions

Membership: Art Fraser
Star Parties: Paul Sadler (Acting)
Fred Lossing Observatory: David Lauzon & Rick Scholes
Hospitality: Art & Anne Fraser
Stan Mott Astronomy Library: Estelle Rother
Ted Bean Telescope Library: Darren Weatherall
Webmaster: Taras Rabaryski AstroNotes
Editors: Karen Finstad & Janet Tulloch (