During Bill Pellerin's presidency we saw novice meetings retooled for beginners, a homegrown observing program, expanded outreach activities, video recorded presentations of first rate speakers, field trips on prime nights, and Messier marathons. Improvements to the observatory site included a remodeled bunkhouse and a spruced up chart room, site-wide WiFi, personal observatories, expanded space for trailers and parking, a sky cam and weather station, and an astrophotography observatory. Necessary changes to the bylaws and articles of incorporation kept us in business. At the Founders Day event, we honored the architects of the observatory and the contributions of past observatory chairmen, master observers, and members who made important astronomical discoveries at the site.
In 2014 alone, HAS welcomed 190 brand new members, comfortably pushing us past the 500 member mark.
We are becoming a different Society
I believe we are at another tipping point. While meeting attendance remains stable, visits to the dark site have exploded and there are waiting lists for observatory and trailer space. Yet only half of us attends at least one meeting a year, though attendance is required to learn the ropes to access the dark site. Who are the other half of us who don’t get to meetings, to the dark site, or to outreach events? Here are some guesses. Some of us are still hoping to do so. We want to get to UH on a first Friday to hear a speaker, or get some novice training, or take the dark site orientation—but we can’t quite get there. Others of us are true virtual members—an evolution of the armchair astronomer. And others of us will leave in the waxing and waning of the membership cycle not having engaged at any level.
Instead of guessing, I’d like to find out who we are becoming and what is required for a 21st century society of amateur astronomers to thrive. To do this, I’m convening a leadership planning meeting this January of all committee chairs, directors, and officers. These are the people who built the society we have now and who continue to do so. This team of dedicated volunteers will be bringing their vision for the coming year, and as a team, we will position ourselves to respond to the needs of a changing membership, for new members and for ourselves.
Stay tuned; more great things are coming.