Astronomy Benalla
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Presidents Report - 2015  It’s seemingly ironic that the year of our smallest membership has probably been one of our ‘busiest’ years. While attendance at our Business Meetings has been relatively low, the enthusiasm and willingness of members to continue to be strongly involved has been greatly encouraging.  Without knowing what lay ahead, we revisited our Mission Statement and confirmed that it expressed what was on our hearts: ‘Astronomy Benalla’ exists to promote the interest and enjoyment of amateur astronomy.  Through the provision of a venue with facilities and resources, we seek to foster a safe and enjoyable learning experience, whilst seeking also to engage the interest and involvement of the wider community of Benalla and district. And then we were off! Broken Creek Primary School was the first to request a Viewing Night for their overnight camp in March.  It was a lovely autumn night, with many of us there with our telescopes, and 24 children with staff keen to look for the ‘astronauts on the moon’! A week later we were at the local airport with scores of others straining to see the Easter lunar eclipse. Rupe soon after did a presentation for the ladies of the CWA. We visited the Euroa U3A later that month, where Rupe and I visited on the invitation of Robyn Sheehan. May was Astronomy Month at the Benalla Library, where we had a display cabinet on show, and Patrick presented a talk on the Solar System to some 30+ attendees.   This was followed by a viewing session on the foreshore to those same very interested families. Also in May the Winton Wetlands opened its ‘Hub’.  Again, we were well represented, and held a special Dark Sky Viewing that night in honour of the occasion. Patrick and I visited St. Joseph’s Primary School in June, where we were enthusiastically received by 120 students and their teachers, and were blown away by how well considered the questions posed by these students were. We later visited the F.J.C. Secondary College in August, as part of Science Week, but were somewhat disappointed by the smaller numbers who managed to brave the cold night air to support this.  The highlight of the year undoubtedly was our involvement in the World Record Stargazing Attempt for the Guinness Book of Records.  At the ground around our Meeting Room we welcomed 53 official star gazers, who all viewed simultaneously upward for 10 whole minutes, commencing at 8:30 pm. It was a dismal August night, but our efforts made a difference, and we were added to the 7960 total registered viewers across 37 national sites, smashing the previously set record of 3006.  We had lots of very positive feedback, and also good coverage in the local paper. The following evening we were at the Benalla Mural, but were almost welcoming of the overcast conditions, and headed home for an early night. September.  In addition to our regular viewing nights, we had a further two school invitations; the Melbourne Uni Campus at Dookie, and the Appin Park Primary School in Wangaratta.  Again, a number of us attended these nights, and were encouraged by their interest shown.  Three of us also witnessed the Moon occulting Venus early one October Friday out at Benalla Airport.  It meant a 5:00 a.m. start, but quite a rewarding viewing despite some cloud.  Our thanks to Gary & Martin (as we were quite ‘Viewing-ed’ out!); they attended the Friends of Winton Wetlands Biodiversity Camp in October and shared with them the wonders of the night sky.  And still the invitations kept coming. In November, Rupe & Patrick visited the Guthrie St. Primary School in Shepparton, where another 120 senior students and their teachers were presented with the wonders of the Solar System.  Later that month Rupe again addressed the Bonnie Doon Community Group with a presentation on the Sun, and a safe viewing of our nearest star. On the last Saturday of November we set up telescopes at the Benalla Lakeside Market, endeavouring to raise awareness and interest among the onlookers in Amateur Astronomy Finally, we concluded the year with a very festive, yet peaceful viewing night at the Baddaginnie Reserve. In all, this activity amounted to over forty engagements, with fifteen being outside invitations to host a viewing or presentation.  And still we couldn’t fit everyone in!  Invitations to the Dookie Rail Trail Twilight Walk, the Mt. Major schools viewing night, and the Melbourne Presbyterian Ladies' College Viewing Night at Winton, are all pending. So, if you still have your breath, THANK YOU for giving so much to the promotion of this amazing pursuit.  Thank you to the quiet workers. Thank you to those that tirelessly tidy up the detail. Thank you to those who look after what we have. Thank you to those who plan and prepare. Thank you to those that look after us.  (And, having said that, I acknowledge their own health concerns!) We have given, but we have also received … This year alone we have learned from the following stimulating sessions: “Our Nearest Star”         - Rupe Cheetham  “The Constellation Aries”       - Patrick Watson   “Buying a new telescope”       - David Webb “The resurrection of the old Monash University Observatory”       - Sue McArthur “The New Horizons spacecraft, its instruments and travel route”       - Rupe Cheetham “The Constellation Leo”       - Jeff Knight “Field Rotation in Astronomical Imaging"       - Patrick Watson  "The Who & When of What They Are" (The History of Spectroscopy)    - Rupe Cheetham "Volcanism on the Moon"       - Patrick Watson  “The Southern Cross”       - Rupe Cheetham “Our Universe May Exist Inside A Black Hole” `     - Martin Welsh “Globular Clusters”       - Patrick Watson     "Capturing the Night”       - Greg Gibbs Thank you to our passionate presenters.  What is your passion?  … Let us know, and let us learn from and encourage each other. 2016 - The Sky’s the Limit! - Jeff Knight President, 2015.
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