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The National Board of the RASC met in Calgary at the Sheraton Cavalier on 18/19 March to finalize the Strategic Plan. We identified the primary goals, assigned actions to each, assigned each action a “champion” to supervise that activity, established measurables, and set deadlines. We are determined to transform the RASC. We intend:
1: To ensure that our front office staff are adequately trained and have access to the right tools and skills
2: To become a conduit for the professional astronomical community to reach out to the public
3: To be the national brand for astronomy in Canada
4: To be stewards of night sky and the earth under it
5: To provide educator consumable material to be used in classrooms across Canada
6: To develop and mentor volunteers within the RASC
7: To become the premier link for all astronomy in Canada
8: To build collaborative communities united behind common purpose
9: To assist in developing Centre leadership and foster Centre development
10. To make the RASC a safe, inclusive, welcoming environment
11. To ensure that RASC finances are sustainable
Dr. Slenders, our facilitator, is now polishing up the results and we’ll be turning this into a presentation for the Presidents and Committees at a meeting on 22 April.
The Board would like to thank the Sunshine Coast Centre for its feedback and input, which was very helpful to us in this planning process.
Charles Ennis, National Secretary
On March 4, 10 members of our Centre met at the President’s home to conduct a brainstorming session towards creating a strategic plan for our Centre and to provide feedback for the National Board, which is concluding strategic planning for the RASC at a meeting in Calgary on 18/19 March. Attendees broke down into groups to discuss Financial Sustainability, Value to Members, Value to the Public, Value to the Scientific Community, and Centre Needs. The President is going to form the results into a digest that can be distributed to other SCC members to get their feedback and input.
It makes me very sad to announce that one of our youngest members, Nairn Robertson, passed away from his illness on 28 December, 2016. He’d received an intestine transplant weeks earlier in an attempt to save him, but ultimately he succumbed to his condition. Nairn’s mother called us in August of 2015, asking us if we could teach him how to use a telescope given to him by the Make A Wish Foundation. We got him a free membership in the RASC and got down to work. He had a chance to learn how to operate our Celestron telescope at the SCC Observatory shortly afterwards. In the fall of 2015 he went into Sechelt hospital as his condition worsened. We got the astrophysicists that came to talk at our monthly meetings to visit him in hospital. His passion for astronomy inspired us all.
Nairn’s mother has donated the 12 inch Meade LX90 telescope to our Centre. We’re in the process of putting together a program named for Nairn to allow young people to explore the skies with his telescope.
The memorial service for Nairn is 21 January, 2017, at YMCA Camp Elphinstone at 12:30 PM in the Welcome Centre Exploration Hall.
I spent the last 6 days in Winnipeg in studios at Merit Motion Pictures and MoonGazy Films working on turning the rough cut of our Bravo film “Starry Nights” into a finished film. We worked on recording voice overs, editing, special effects and art work, adding astrophotography, adding the music, and creating the credits. This week it will be going to technicians for color correction and sound editing. By the end of this week we hope to have it wrapped!
As a result of the elections at the AGM on 14 October, here is your Board of Directors of the SCC:
|Sunshine Coast Centre RASC Board of Directors|
|Mike Bradley||Vice Presidentfirstname.lastname@example.org||11/13/2015|
|Scott Harlow||Director at Largeemail@example.com||14/10/2016|
|Bruce Woodburn||Director at Largefirstname.lastname@example.org||14/10/2016|
|Debra MacWilliam||Director at Largeemail@example.com||14/10/2016|
|Bill Clark||Past Presidentfirstname.lastname@example.org||14/10/2016|
I took a 25th anniversary cruise to Hawaii at the end of September and while on board the Star Princess taught 8 basic astronomy “enrichment lectures” which were very well received. I also helped with three star gazing sessions on board during the trip to Hawaii and back.
At last Friday’s lecture (by Dr. Jon Willis) I asked about the plans to get the probe back from Enceladus. I thought the speaker’s response that “what comes up must come down” was flippant and contrary to Newtonian physics. For instance, geosynchronous satellites do not “come back down” and have never been brought back down to low orbit for repair or refueling.
This is a non-trivial problem. Enceladus is the second most proximal moon to Saturn and is therefore deep in Saturn’s gravity well. Return to earth involves raising the probe to a heliocentric orbit (effectively Saturn escape velocity) then converting to a Hohmann transfer orbit with Earth perihelion at 1 AU. My understanding is that transfer between two circular orbits (E.G.: Earth and Saturn) using a Hohmann transfer orbit requires the same delta-v independent of the direction of the transfer. Since the probe relied on multiple gravity assist manoeuvres to get to Saturn, I doubt it has the luxury of carting a lot of fuel for the return trip.
At Earth orbit perihelion it will need to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere at close to Earth’s escape velocity. I don’t know of a successful re-entry from a heliocentric orbit, or if it is feasible.
I’m not saying return can’t be done, just that getting the probe home is as difficult as getting it up there in the first place. The project invites some interesting jiggery-pokery. Like more gravity assist or aerobraking.
My second question was about return of the plutonium battery and potential radioactive contamination upon re-entry. There have been several inadvertent re-entries of plutonium batteries (Apollo 13 Lunar Module being one). The issue has been addressed by containing the batteries within their own re-entry heat shielding so they would land in one piece (hopefully not in my backyard). Also, the Plutonium-238 isotope used in batteries has a half life of only 64 years, not the 24,000 years of weapons grade plutonium. I feel much safer now.