President's Letter

Original article appears in GuideStar September, 2017.

by Rene Gedaly

Hoping this finds you and yours well and on the mend from Harvey

Where were you for the Great American Eclipse of August 21, 2017? I was in Casper, WY for my first total solar eclipse and my first Astronomical League Convention. Neither will be my last.

Allen showing the public the solar eclipseHAS was out in force for the partial  Michael Rapp was busy with students at the University of Houston, and Allen Wilkerson, Sherry Irby, and Stephen Jones were at the Mendenhall Community Center. They planned for 150 attendees and got 300+. Get ready now for April 8, 2024: The Great Texas Eclipse.

Changes to Bylaws  In 2013 and 2014 we changed our bylaws to bring them better in line with the way we operate. This year we’d like you to consider three more changes: (1) online meetings of the board of directors, (2) online voting by the membership, and (3) changes to the dues process. Notification of the proposed changes will go out by October 1, 2017.

Elections  VP Don Selle and his nominating committee are working hard to select a leadership slate for 2018. Interested in running? Contact Don now or throw your hat in the ring from the floor at the Annual Meeting in November. The slate will be posted on the website and emailed to [email protected] by October 1.

We must rebuild our infrastructure  Chatting with others at AstroCon 2017 in Casper, I learned what an extraordinary observatory and dark site we have. Sure, I bragged on us a bit—but did not exaggerate—and was met with astonishment that HAS can support all we do on $36/year per member. How do we do it? We have a generous membership who donate to specific funds, like the Observatory. We also save because of sweat equity. The dark site is maintained by the observatory committee and includes DIY repairs and maintenance of the entire site. (You thought it was only mowing?) However, some of our infrastructure is decades old and in need of professional repair or replacement. We also need new facilities to accommodate increased use and growth.

We need money  How do we raise the funds we need? Especially when many of us are picking up the pieces from Harvey? Often, I'm asked by new members and their guests how much it costs to rent an RV spot, a pad, or stay overnight in a bunkhouse. We're an inclusive club and want these facilities open to all, so we charge nothing. To continue, however, we must raise funds. Mike Edstrom, Observatory Chairperson, will be running the fundraising campaign. Please contact Mike when you’re able to help.

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