I contacted the RASC Regina Centre before moving to Regina in July 2011, having already decided that I would have to photograph Saturn. Chris Beckett engaged me in an email exchange that I barely understood except regarding two points: 1. go to the Kalium Observatory public drop in on July 8th, and 2. go to the next members meeting in early September.
On July 8th I did visit the observatory and met Ron and Len, who are the RASC members who volunteer regularly to hold public drop-in viewing sessions at Kalium Observatory. They were very welcoming, and Ron took some time to show me some of the computerized tracking equipment and engage me in conversation.
At the September meeting I introduced myself [I shouldn’t have been surprised that I was the only woman in the room of 25 or so people], and began to attend monthly meetings. Most members have been very welcoming and encouraging, some have brought books to loan or give to me [thank you Ian and Pete], others have sent tips and encouragement through the club list-serve.
As it turns out Chris Beckett has become a great source of encouragement and mentorship. He and Shane [club president] invited me to make a short presentation about my project, and later invited Gail Chin and me to make a club presentation on photographing the night sky with cameras. He’s been a great consultant on astronomy basics, and astrophotography equipment and has taken me out to join he and his viewing pal, Mike, at their preferred dark sky location about 50km outside of town. Chris also gave me a photo challenge in November when Saturn, Spica [star] and the new moon were in unique alignment in the morning sky [see post Saturn, Spica, New Moon, November 22, 2011].
Since fall 2011 I’ve been a member of the RASC and I’m enjoying learning so much from such a diversity of people. Everyone has something in the sky he [yes] likes to look at. One loves to look at galaxies, another nebula, this one Jupiter, that one other things the names of which I haven’t absorbed. Others still are perfectly happy to set up a telescope and look at anything whatsoever. One member, Vance Petriew, discovered a comet which is named after him, read about that here [I’ll eventually post more about amateur vs. professional astronomers]. Like within the Scrabble world, members have a range of dispositions [from nerdy to cranky to happy to just plain weird]. And it’s nice to become a part of a community outside of ‘work’ in a new town.