President's Corner

by Robyn Foret, Calgary Centre (arforet@shaw.ca)

What exciting times we live in. I look back to my youth and my inspiration, and like many others in my age group, I drew inspiration from the 1960’s space program, the most excellent speculative fiction authors of the day, and the shockingly inspiring Star Trek television series. Our local library, a place I forced my young friends to journey into after Saturday afternoon matinees, offered me insight into geology, paleontology, biology, and of course, astronomy, to name a few.

Fast forward to today and inspiration abounds and as you get closer to ringing in 2022, I hope that some of these events and activities make it to your list of resolutions and things to do in the upcoming year.

  • The James Webb Space Telescope. In the last edition of the Journal, I hit send before the JWST  launch was delayed but as of this writing it seems imminent. If all goes well, we’ll begin to see preliminary data and a hint of what this instrument promises.
  • Human space travel. Private companies have embraced the possibilities and opportunities that bringing humans into space represents. Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic reinvents the space plane with X-1 like launches, Jeff Bezos sends Captain Kirk where no 90-year-old has gone before, and Elon Musk promises the Moon and once again breaks away from the norm with an awe-inspiring journey sending four civilians on a 3-day journey in Earth orbit. If you haven’t done so, watch the most-excellent Netflix limited series Countdown, Inspiration4 Mission to Space.
  • World-renowned lectures. Available to pretty much everyone with an internet connection, the proliferation of information and insight is unprecedented. For curated talks, check out the schedules of the RASC Centres that have been attracting speakers from around the globe.
  • Modern Science Fiction. Some based on good science, some not. The ability to paint a picture of what-if continues to inspire. I particularly enjoy well-written speculation based on new scientific discovery; it can be hard to find amidst the shoot-em-up and space operas but if you want to start somewhere, check out Robert Heinlein’s future history series where you’ll see shocking links to Elon Musk’s reality. Robert Sawyer, the only Canadian author to win the Hugo, Nebula, and John W. Campbell awards, is a more modern author worth exploring.
  • Space Stations. The ISS continues to host astronauts from around the world, while China begins to construct its first permanent space station. Use the Heavens-above app to catch flybys over your town or city, and if you’re lucky, you might get to see a double flyby with a spacecraft near the station prior to docking or just after release.
  • Interplanetary Travel. Missions abound to Mercury, Venus, the Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and minor planets. As more and more data is retrieved, we all have new and interesting things to discuss and share as we show our friends and family these familiar objects in our telescopes.
  • Edited and Curated Content. Our very own SkyNews magazine is a great example of the marriage between edited and curated content with its magazine and website, and our Editorial Board team continues to make this RASC asset better than ever.
  • Astronomical events; conjunctions, oppositions, eclipses, meteor showers, lunar x, etc., etc. Be sure to plan and share your plan with others to capture 2022’s night sky’s best. SkyNews magazine, the Observer’s Handbook and the 2022 Night Sky Almanac are all great resources for information and insight.
  • Education for everyone. RASC!! The RASC is a great source for education and presents an opportunity for today’s youth and others to get educated with comprehensive programming and a chance to do science and to be exposed to the scientific method. Observing, Astroimaging, and Robotic Telescope programs, coupled with national and local outreach programs, have something for all levels of engagement. Our publications continue to expand and update with relevant books, workbooks, and other “merch.”

On a final note, the Society office is moving and we’re all very excited to offer highlights of our new office and Dorner Telescope Museum on College Street in Toronto in the New Year.

We really do live in interesting times.

Best wishes for the New Year and Clear Skies in 2022.

Author: 
james-deleted-51@jamesedgar.ca
Last modified: 
Saturday, November 13, 2021 - 9:06am