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Prominent Members to Receive Service Awards

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Written by Denis Grey, Toronto on
Post Date: 
Sat, 2007/06/02

Two well-known members of the Society - Dr. Rajiv Gupta (Unattached) and Bruce McCurdy (Edmonton) will receive the Society's Service Award in 2007 in recognition of their exemplary efforts on behalf of the Society. These awards will be presented at the Society's General Assembly in Calgary later this month.

Nomination of Dr. Rajiv Gupta
Nominated by Scott Young and Peter Jedicke

Dr. Rajiv Gupta has proved time and again that his dedication to the Society is first and foremost. Over a period of 16 or more years, Rajiv served as Vancouver Centre National Representative, creator and first Editor of the Observer's Calendar, Editor of the Observer's Handbook, Society Treasurer, 2nd Vice-President, 1st Vice-President, and President. Amazingly, Rajiv continued in the two editorships while National President!

Rajiv's meticulous attention to detail resulted in the creation of a first-class publication - the Observer's Calendar - which has garnered praise from both within and outside the astronomical community. The Calendar has won numerous awards, not only for the concept, but also for excellence in layout, images, and quality. His mathematical bent shows through in the computer programs he created to automate the generation of the Observer's Calendar grids, and "The Sky Month By Month" portion of the Observer's Handbook.

When Dr. Roy Bishop stepped down as Editor of the Observer's Handbook, Rajiv "took over the reins" and added his personal touch to the venerable almanac. Not only did he breathe new life into the book, he wisely formed a small team consisting of himself as Editor, a Copy Editor, Betty Robinson, and a Proofreader & Editor's Assistant, James Edgar. The assistance of these two volunteers allowed Rajiv to continue in his other roles, while at the same time attaining an unprecedented level of publication excellence. The Observer's Handbook is renowned worldwide as the premier source of astronomical data and knowledge. The RASC owes much of that reputation to Rajiv for continuing the work of his predecessors.

For his continued presence as a driving force in the Society, for his calm and impartial handling of meetings, even contentious ones, and for his exemplary leadership in supporting the improvement of our hobby and the Society, Dr. Rajiv Gupta is a deserving candidate for the Service Award.

Nomination of Bruce McCurdy
Nominated by the Edmonton Centre Council

Everyone knows Bruce McCurdy. Since joining the Edmonton Centre in 1986, Bruce has served on the Edmonton Centre council in almost every capacity except newsletter editor. This may seem strange because of his prolific and proficient writing skills, as demonstrated by his regular contributions to the Society's Journal with his column, Orbital Oddities, as well as his regular contributions to Stardust. Most recently he served as the Edmonton Centre's National Representative and national Astronomy Day Coordinator. He was one of the key organizers of the Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve Declaration which took place on 2006-09-03, and he is currently acting as Chair of the Edmonton Centre's Light Pollution Abatement Committee.

Bruce has been a volunteer on many committees over the years such as George Moore's Astronomy Workshop, the Transit of Venus Expedition to Fort McMurray, and the Fort Nelson Graze Expedition. Bruce is a regular volunteer at the Telus World of Science's observing deck, and has for many years been the principal operator of this facility. Without fail, Bruce is present at every celestial event held by the Centre such as the Mars Watch, Lunar Eclipses, and Comet Watches.

Bruce makes sure that the RASC has a voice in the community. In particular, he is a long-time member of the Edmonton Space and Science Foundation, whose deliberations are, on occasion, directly relevant to the Edmonton Centre. He often represents the Centre on CKUA radio, and he was involved with the first, and subsequent, Edmonton Centre TV program recorded at Shaw Cable through ACCESS TV. In fact, he is the principal media spokesman for public events in which the RASC is a participant.

For many years, Bruce has been one of the principal resources for outreach programs such as school, Cubs and Brownie groups, and he was Education Coordinator for the Centre's SkyScan project, designed to introduce radio detection of meteor showers to high schools in the Edmonton region. He has been the guy with enthusiasm who has inspired many observers into meteor watching and has contributed his counts to the study of several meteor streams. On a broader scale, he also worked with volunteers at the Eccles Ranch to build, to paint, and otherwise to improve the land and facilities for the annual Alberta Star Party.

For all of contributions to the Society, both nationally and to the Edmonton Centre, Bruce McCurdy is a deserving candidate for the Service Award.