Category Archives: Special

GA 2005 Summary

Hello all,

Brian has already reported to some of you (the Centre’s Exec), but I feel that I should report as well.

At any National Council meeting or Annual Meeting at a GA, the vast majority of the motions are routine, non-controversial, housekeeping matters. The motions that generated strong feelings and lengthy debate were all related to trying to get the RASC’s finances in order since we are expecting a $36,000 deficit this year. These issues dominated discussion at the 1st National Council meeting on Friday, at the Annual Meeting on Sunday morning, and at the 2nd National Council meeting on Sunday afternoon.

At the Annual Meeting the proposal to remove the general membership’s right to vote on and ratify fee increases was defeated soundly. Since it would have had to pass with a two-thirds majority, its defeat was widely expected. I voted to retain your current right to vote on fee increases. The related measure to change the current 60/40 split between national and the centres (the centre receives 40 percent of your membership fee) also failed to pass since it was linked to the first matter within the same motion.

In contrast, the actual membership fee increase of $5 per annum was not controversial and passed in less than a minute with little or no debate by a huge margin. I voted for the fee increase since the Society is in dire financial straights.

There is a proposal afoot to change the JOURNAL to an electronic downloadable publication, which would save the RASC some $55,000 per year, thus more than eliminating the annual deficit. Discussion during the three meetings centred on how to legally do this since a large body of opinion feels that the Bylaws have made a paper copy of the JOURNAL a right of membership. Finally, at the end of the 2nd National Council meeting, this motion was passed:

MOTION 05304
It was moved by Dave Lane, seconded by James Edgar, that references to the words “the Journal” in Bylaw #1 refers to a publication of the RASC published in electronic format and specifically it does not refer to a printed version of the same publication that may be made available by subscription to members, non-members, or institutions.

MOTION 05304 was CARRIED (I voted in favour in a close 19-17 vote. Some members of National Council, including Past-Pres Rajiv Gupta, were very upset that this controversial motion carried. As a member of the national Finance committee, I feel that this course is necessary, although regrettable.)

Motion 05306
Dave Lane, seconded by James Edgar, that the combination Printed and Electronically-Delivered Journal proposal be implemented by the Publications and IT Committees as proposed in the document dated 2005-05-04, except the changes to the Society’s by-laws indicated in Appendix 2. The implementation details, subscription pricing, and phase-in details shall be approved by the Executive Committee.

Some debate ensued.

Motion 05307
It was moved by Brian Kelso, seconded by Alan Whitman, that Motion 05306 be postponed until the National Council meeting in October 2005.

Motion 05307 was CARRIED

So the result of all of this appears to be that we can proceed with implementing an electronic JOURNAL if motion 05306 passes at the October 29th meeting of National Council. This gives every centre including ours time to debate the issue thoroughly in the meantime. Note that the proposal would make a paper copy of the JOURNAL available by subscription, probably in the $15 to $20 range. [Although I note that Jay Anderson, the incoming editor of the JOURNAL, said make it one or the other, not both.] None of this should be seen as an attack on the Journal’s worth — it is simply a reality that the RASC’s finances are heading downhill rapidly and something drastic has to be done. The obvious target is the JOURNAL since the national membership survey done a couple of years ago found that the membership values the Observer’s Handbook and Sky News more than they do the JOURNAL.

I was re-elected to the national Finance committee and was also elected to the Observing committee. My Finance committee duties certainly colour my approach to these matters. Brian Battersby agreed to sit on the national Education committee.

If you have any questions, please email (whitmans@vip.net) or phone me. (250) 497-6759

Best,

Alan Whitman
PG Centre Alternate National Representative

2004-11-10 Educational Environment Report

Structuring an Educational Environment at the RASC Prince George Centre by Robin Riordan

All the preliminary work for establishing a viable education centre at the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Prince George Centre, has been accomplished. That is to say, the physical plant is established in the form of an observatory, and a classroom. Now we can embark on the tasks needed to fulfill our mission statement, “We are a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of astronomy and science in Prince George and the neighboring northern Canadian communities.”

Public Presentations March-June 16 Presentations
August-November 16 Presentations

This represents 32 presentations. I would suggest that we have 8 programs developed for the coming 2005 – 2006 year. We could offer one program for the four weeks in a month. Then move to the next program. Or, alternatively, offer one program on one day only per month. All other Fridays could be reserved for public schools, community groups, and UNBC. The one thing that is critical is that the public be made aware of a program being offered in addition to just seeing the telescope. There are always casual visitors and they are always welcome to view. We may want to adopt a two programs per week approach, one program targeting adults and another focusing on children.
It appears that we will be seeing about six professional development days per year: October, November, January, February, March, and May. Materials and activities must be developed and maintained for these. Wayne and I plan to offer two sessions this month rather than the one offered in October. During the October PD Day, we had a full house.

The Brownies came in search of their Black Star merit badges this month. As it turns out the Girl Guides council uses the criteria outlined by the Canadian Astronomical Society. I have copied these criteria and recommend that we develop programs specifically designed to target these criteria.

The visits by the Vanderhoof school system are a real plus. I only hope that in the future we can get some communication with the teacher about how they feel we can best help them achieve their curriculum goals. And I would hope that this program could expand to communities other that Vanderhoof. This should not represent any additional development since we have a provincial wide curriculum. We might consider sending a questionnaire to area teachers asking how we can help them implement their new curriculum. Another possibility would be to visit area schools during a faculty and make a brief presentation about what we are and what we might be able to do for them. Questionnaires could be passed out at this time and collected later.

The final draft of the British Columbia Curriculum will be ready by the end of the month. This document will allow us to develop programs that target concepts that are being covered by a particular age group.

I have ordered educational catalogs from Canada and the U.S. They will be arriving at the observatory shortly. I have also subscribed to several newsletters the will come to Tedford. Please feel free to open these and read. They are addressed to me simply because the forms require a name. We can all have fun with the catalogs of educational equipment. We need to purchase educational materials. And I don’t mean new $200 eyepieces 🙂 (although I would really like a filar micrometer nah).

At some point we are probably going to want to go to the funding well. In preparation for this we need to keep good record on attendance, and who is served. We should also develop an aboriginal component to our programming. In fact, I am working on that already. We can start by looking into an application for funds from the Canadian Space Agency. Their grants range from $100 to $5,000. I can think of two immediate funding needs: money for duplication of materials to be distributed to area science teachers, and money for transportation for school children to the observatory. These are not glamorous grants but they are essential.

I would recommend that we begin to consider partnership schemes. A simple exemplar might be:

image002

Finally, we need to begin to think of how to evaluate our effectiveness. Whether a granting agency is involved or not we need an evaluation mechanism in place to help us see what we are doing right and what could use some improvement.

Along these lines I recommend that we develop a questionnaire that we could send to the scout leader, and teachers who bring groups to the observatory. The questionnaire should contain specific items as well as some open-ended questions.

This is just food for thought. The real formulation and decision making is going to have to be done by committee. Empowerment is the key. Often, those who do not participate do not choose to remain outside; they simply feel ‘uninvited’. We really need teachers, like Wayne. I will be contacting teachers and principals in the local schools and see what I can stir up. And I am sure that among our membership there are some who would love to do some teaching. We also really need to identify someone who is interested in space science. It really appears that Canada is going in this direction and we are a perfect venue for providing students with exposure to space and science. I must admit that I will have to begin training myself in the area of space exploration. I would urge all of us to spend some time in that area.

2002-10-07

PRINCE GEORGE ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY
(ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY OF CANADA: PRINCE GEORGE CENTRE)
7365 Tedford Road
Prince George, BC
V2N 6S2

Emergency Executive Meeting Minutes

Date: October 7, 2002

Location: 490 Brunswick St, Prince George

Chairperson: Brian Battersby
Recording Secretary:Gil Self
Executives Present: Gil Self, Brian Battersby, Rod Herd, Wayne Sanders
Members Present: None

Time Meeting Called to Order: 1:00 p.m.

1. Previous Meeting Minutes
None, as this was a special meeting

2. Treasurers Report
None, as this was a special meeting

3. Correspondence
Paperwork dealing with current gaming application

4. Old Business
None, as this was a special meeting

5. New Business
The purpose of this meeting was to pass and sign documents required by the gaming commission to continue the application process. This meeting was called on short notice due to the time limit imposed on the club by gaming.

Items to be addressed.

1. Resolution required by gaming to ensure that no member will benefit directly from the club’s assets when the club dissolves.

Motion: to accept the resolution as presented by gaming (see attachment A)
Carried: Unanimously

2. Sign a letter stating that under “no circumstances no club member will receive any remuneration, benefits or wages of any kind from the club.” Gil clarified this position verbally with Joan Fredricks [ (250) 356-2990 ] at gaming and she stated that repaying small amounts to members for items bought for the club was acceptable as long as there was an adequate paper trail. She did recommend getting away from this practice however. She also said that she noticed that we did this from our financial records.

Brian Battersby, Gil Self, Rod Herd, Glen Harris and Wayne Sanders all signed the letter affirming the clubs position on this matter.

3. Finalize a letter explaining the scope and aim of the club as requested by Joan
Fredricks. (see attachment B)

6. Adjournment
Adjourned at 1:30 p.m.

ATTACHMENT A

RESOLUTION

RESOLVED that should the Prince George Astronomical Society, which received gaming funds from licensed charitable gaming events, bingo affiliation and/ or direct access grants, at any time dissolve or cease to exist, have any and all gaming monies or assets purchased with gaming funds held at the date of dissolution or cessation of existence these/they shall be distributed by the Prince George Astronomical Society to:

A registered charity or registered charities in British Columbia, as defined in the Income Tax Act (Canada), as may be determined by the members of the Society at the time of winding up or dissolution.

OR

Such charitable organization or organizations in British Columbia having a similar charitable purpose.

RESOLVED FURTHER that the foregoing resolution shall not be altered or amended and shall continue to be binding on the Prince George Astronomical Society.

RESOLVED FURTHER that the Prince George Astronomical Society will provide its undertaking, by delivery of a copy of this resolution to the Gamin Policy and Enforcement Branch, that it will abide by the limits on the application of its assets on dissolution as provided herein.

CERTIFIED to be a true and correct copy of a resolution unanimously passed by the Board of Directors of the Prince George Astronomical Society at a meeting held on
____________, 20_____.

Signed:

_______________________________ ______________________________
(Board Member)                                      (Board Member)

ATTCHAMENT B

PRINCE GEORGE ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY
7365 Tedford Road
Prince George, BC
V2N 6S2

B.C. Government
Gaming & Policy Enforcement

(250) 356-2990

ATTN: Joan Fredricks

SUBJECT: ORGANIZATION #105987 – Direct Access Application

The Prince George Astronomical Society’s observatory is a unique facility in northern British Columbia and indeed Canada. It is one of only a handful of observatories in Canada that is easily accessible to the public by attending one of our many open houses or tours. By becoming a member of the Society people gain direct access to the twenty-four inch telescope as well as other equipment such as CCD cameras and portable telescopes.

Each year between 800 and 1500 people visit the observatory for tours, open houses, special events and meetings. For many of these people it is their first exposure to the night sky and astronomy in general. The many school-aged children who visit the observatory either through their school, Girl Guide group, Boy Scouts group, church group or other youth group especially appreciate this unique form of “hands on science”. We try to coordinate with the school curriculum to accommodate tours at the same time of year as the astronomy course work is taught. Our presentation has been reviewed by a teacher and follows closely with what is being taught in the schools. We are currently working on more presentations to further target specific age levels of school children. We have had great response to our summer programs. As well, several times over the last two summers we have set up specialized equipment in the parking lot at local malls, hundreds of people have had their first close-up look at the sun. For the past two summers we have also held one meeting publicly at a large local park. “Astronomy At The Park” is a growing success, which we will continue each summer in August.

Use of the observatory is growing, our paid membership is up to thirty-six and the Society is implementing suggestions from a marketing analysis donated by the Innovation Resource Centre to increase public awareness of the observatory and improve members and non-members experiences at the facility. The improvements implemented so far include: changing the meeting structure, creating new, more audience-targeted presentations and increasing the access to the observatory for both the general public and members. Other improvements being considered but, which we are unable to currently fund at this time include making the parking lot safer, adding more lighting on pathways and smoothing out the exterior landscaping to help increase safety in the dark. We see a lot of interest in simple visual astronomy, not equipment intensive but we do need to build a large outdoor “observing area” at the observatory. A knowledgeable member will guide users around the night sky from a safe, comfortable viewing area. In the future we expect a larger membership and an increase in the number of visitors to the facility due to the improvements we are making.

The reach of the observatory is also growing. In the last year we have had three tours come from Quesnel and hosted a contingent of Girl Guides from across northern British Columbia.

Over the years local companies and individuals have donated equipment, materials and countless volunteer man-hours to build and maintain the facility that the community of Prince George now enjoys.

Sincerely,

Brian Battersby
President,
Prince George Astronomical Society

2002-02-24

ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY OF CANADA
PRINCE GEORGE CENTRE
7365 Tedford Road
Prince George, BC
V2N 6S2

Emergency Executive Meeting Minutes

Date: February 24, 2002
Location: #49A 2131 Upland Street Prince George, BC

Chairperson: Brian Battersby
Recording Secretary: Glen Harris
Executives Present: Glen Harris, Brian Battersby, Rod Herd
Members Present: None

Time Meeting Called to Order: 7:00 p.m.

1. Previous Meeting Minutes
None, as this was a special meeting

2. Treasurers Report
None, as this was a special meeting

3. Correspondence
Paperwork dealing with renewing the new lease. Various pieces of correspondence from previous years.

4. Old Business
None, as this was a special meeting

5. New Business
The purpose of this meeting was to determine what paperwork needed to be processed immediately, so that the club would not lose it’s present status.

Items to be addressed.

1. Society Annual Report c/w Financial statement for the last fiscal year.
Action Item: Rod to provide the financial statement
Glen to complete Form 11 and submit with financial statement ASAP

5. New Business (cont’d)

2. Address change will be submitted in conjunction with the Society Annual Report.
Action Item: Glen will submit Form 5.
3. Bank signing authority change.
Action Item: Brian to address this item.
4. Lease Renewal
Action Item: Glen to submit this paperwork before April 15, 2002
5. Director change
Action Item: Glen to send in Form 7 once item 1 has been processed.
6. Charity Tax Return
Action Item: Rod to submit by March 31, 2002

The following items need to be addressed, but not as urgently.

7. Change the name of the club to Royal Astronomical Society of Canada – Prince George Centre. This requires a notice of resolution at a general meeting, and will be retabled at the April 24, 2002 meeting.
Advance notice of this special resolution will be sent out to the membership in the Feb. 27 meeting minutes.
8. GST Rebate: This could apply to the club
Action Item: Rod to check our eligibility and submit as required.

6. Adjournment
Adjourned at 7:50 p.m.

2002/02/26 Revise date of April 24, 2002 in subsection 7 of Item 5 New Business to read March 27, 2002

Secretaries Analysis

By Brian Battersby

The year is almost over so I thought it would be neat to do a bit of a summary of the year based on the minutes. Highlighting, among other things, what projects we completed, are in progress and never got off the ground.

Membership Attendance:

September: N/A – Loc: Observatory
October: 14 – Loc: Observatory
November: 12 – Loc: CNC
January: 12  – Loc: CNC
February: 13 – Loc: CNC
March: 8 – Loc: Observatory
April: 8 – Loc: Observatory

Projects we wanted to do this year & when they first appeared in the minutes:

  • Join the RASC – October 25, 2000
  • Hold Members Nights – October 25, 2000 / November 29,2000
  • Install the Washroom – Nov 15, 2000
  • Install a Holding Tank for the washroom – Nov 15, 2000
  • Install a Water System for the washroom – Nov 25, 2000
  • Purchase a second Slide Projector – Nov 15, 2000
  • Start a Dark Sky committee – Nov 15, 2000
  • Hold NOVA classes – Nov 15, 2000
  • Have a Christmas Party – Nov 15, 2000
  • Put in an application for a New Grant – Nov 15, 2000
  • Fundraise – Nov 15, 2000
  • Install video surveillance to be monitored by members over the Internet. – Nov 15, 2000
  • Review the clubs Insurance policy. – Nov 15, 2000
  • Install a Dial-Up Server to enable remote access to the PGAO network – Nov 15, 2000
  • Make a flip mirror system for the main scope to convert it to a Newtonian when desired by the user – Nov 29, 2000
  • Create a plaque thanking major contributors & founding members – Nov 29, 2000
  • Create an Archivist position – Nov 29, 2000
  • Update the Website – Nov 29, 2000
  • Submit the Financial Report to the Gaming Commission – Dec 20, 2000
  • Submit the Societies Annual Report – Dec 20, 2000
  • Get a new Building Coordinator – Dec 20, 2000
  • Reduce Noise in the Classroom – Dec 20, 2000
  • Mark off the new Parking Lot – Dec 20, 2000
  • Add a Finder Scope to Bobs/ Clubs 10” Dob.
  • Purchase Educational Videos to aid in NOVA – Dec 20, 2000
  • Create a New Members Handbook – Dec 20, 2000
  • Build an Observing Deck – Dec 20, 2000
  • Try to control the Borrowing of Club equipment better through Sign-Out books – Dec 20, 2000
  • Security System: Look into the false alarms – Dec 20, 2000
  • Have Klaus at the CNC put together a circuit to control the slide projectors with the computer. – Jan 17, 2001
  • Put a water cooler into the Observatory – Jan 17, 2001
  • Put together a Schedule of Events for the newsletter – Jan 17, 2001
  • Upgrade the computers to a High Speed Network – Feb 28, 2001
  • Fix the leak in the roof – March 28, 2001
  • Make a movable fence to block access to the parking in front of the dome. – March 28, 2001
  • Have a Star Party next August or September. – April 25, 2001
  • Write a weekly Newspaper Column – April 25, 2001

Projects Completed:

  • Join the RASC – won’t be officially official until the summer but we were told we’re in.
  • Hold Members Nights
  • Start a Dark Sky Committee
  • Create a plaque thanking major contributors & founding members – this was changed to thank the CNC only.
  • Update the Website – this is one project that is never truly completed!
  • Submit the Financial Report to the Gaming Commission
  • Submit the Societies Annual Report
  • Get a new Building Coordinator – Bob Klick
  • Create a New Members Handbook – was changed to a CD Rom
  • Try to control the Borrowing of Club equipment better through Sign-Out books
  • Put a water cooler into the Observatory
  • Put together a Schedule of Events for the newsletter

Projects Started:

  • Install the Washroom, Holding Tank and Water System – almost there!
  • Purchase a 2nd Slide Projector – ordered but not picked up yet because of lack of funds
  • Hold NOVA classes – only one class was held due to a lack of teaching materials
  • Put in an application for a New Grant – this should be in by the time you read this
  • Install a Dial-Up Server to enable remote access to the PGAO network
  • Newtonian Secondary Mirror
  • Create an Archivist position
  • Noise Reduction– we did get some pricing but not much has happened since
  • Security System: Look into the false alarms – I think a couple of people looked into this a bit but ran into problems getting the info.
  • Control Circuit for the Slide Projectors – Klaus was asked to make this, I think.
  • Upgrade the computers to a High Speed Network
  • Fix the leak in the roof – this might be finished just waiting to see if more leaks show up.
  • Have a Star Party next August or September

Projects Not Started:

  • Have a Christmas Party
  • Fundraise – this never got going this year due to the lack of washrooms
  • Install video surveillance to be monitored by members over the Internet
  • Review the clubs Insurance policy
  • Mark off the new Parking Lot
  • Add a Finder Scope to Bobs/ Clubs 10” Dob
  • Purchase Educational Videos to aid in NOVA – waiting for funds
  • Build an Observing Deck – waiting for funds
  • Make a movable fence to block access to the parking in front of the dome
  • Write a weekly Newspaper Column – I’m not sure how this one ended up I think Matt C was going to write some articles over the summer. In any event the target start date wasn’t until the fall of 2002

My Opinion:

Membership: Based on this years worth of data plus my personal recollection of the last few years I would put forward that we get markedly better attendance when the meetings are held in town rather than the Observatory. The one exception was October, which was the executive election. Perhaps it’s time we consider holding meetings in town all year round to improve attendance and use the observatory solely for member’s nights, tours and any classes/ special events we hold.

Projects: When I started this I felt that there was not a whole lot that we accomplished this year but now that I went through it I think all in all we did OK. While technically the biggest projects are not yet complete they are all on the verge of being completed. The only important things that never got started are being held up by the lack of money we are currently experiencing. I’m looking forward to working with you all next year and I hope we do even better!