Astronomical Society of Edinburgh
Journal 39

From the President

It has been quite an eventful period since the last Journal was issued.

As mentioned in the last annual report there is likely to be extensive refurbishment work at the observatory and it is highly unlikely that we will be able to move the library books back to the Playfair Building this year. Our Secretary, Graham Rule continues to represent the Society's interests in attending the Calton Hill Advisory Group meetings and we will keep you informed of the continuing developments as they arise.

Sadly in April of this year David Todd died of a long-standing illness. David worked tirelessly behind the scenes as Secretary and Treasurer of the ASE Trustees. It is chiefly thanks to his careful management of the Trust's assets that we have been able to maintain the current membership subscription fee without increase. An obituary for David Todd appears in this Journal.

The astronomical event of this year will surely be the spectacle of a total Solar Eclipse on 11th August. For those not venturing to Cornwall or elsewhere to view the spectacle of the total eclipse the Society will open the City Observatory to the public on the day to allow people to view the partial eclipse in safety. It is hoped to use this event to increase public awareness of astronomy and the Society's activities.

Last year also saw the opening of the UK Astronomy Technology Centre at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh. We have always been fortunate as an amateur astronomy society in having the ROE on our doorstep to provide, amongst other things, many of the speakers for Friday night meetings. As Calton Hill was formerly the site of the Royal Observatory before it moved to Blackford Hill it would be nice to strengthen the links still further between the two observatories. To this end it is hoped to meet with representatives from the ROE in the near future.

Last month, the lease for the use of Earlyburn, the Society's dark sky observing site was finally agreed and signed. To celebrate this event we decided to hold this year's wine and cheese at Earlyburn and have a barbecue. Around forty members were able to attend what turned out to be a very successful evening. The Society is indebted to the National Environmental Research Centre who have been kind enough to allow us to use the grounds. On an individual basis special thanks must go to Charlie Gleed, Jim Douglas and Kenny Laidlaw who over several months have spent considerable time and effort in constructing the much-needed shelter for observers who venture to this remote spot.

Last year Jamie Shepherd decided to stand down from the post of Observatory Director after a period of office lasting fifteen years. Jamie's particularly valuable contribution to amateur astronomy in the Society is appreciated by all. The work formerly done by the Director has been shared by the Observatory Management Committee (made up of the President, Secretary and Treasurer).

At the last AGM the following new people have been welcomed onto the Council: Dr George Grant, Adrian Weatherhead, Ray Fenhoulet. One of the main discussions at the AGM was the feasibility of restructuring the Society as a company limited by guarantee. Those present generally approved of the rationale behind this and the Council intends to present full proposals to the membership in the autumn.

The Scottish Astronomy Weekend this year will be in Dundee from the 10th to 12th September. This is a must for anyone wanting to seize the chance to talk and do astronomy over a weekend with other fellow astronomers from all over Scotland. Thanks once again to Dave Gavine for organising this event on behalf of the Scottish Astronomers' Group.

Finally I would like to remind people that this year's Members Night is fast approaching and will take place on the 6th August. If you wish to participate by giving a short talk on an astronomical subject of your choice please get in touch with any Council member.

Alan Ellis