From the President’s desk – 1st January 2017

Well, the Earth has orbited the Sun once more and we say goodbye to another year. Globally 2016 brought its fair share of ups and downs. Sadly the world saw the passing of some pretty famous names - musicians like Leonard Cohen, Glenn Frey, Prince, David Bowie and George Michael; sportsmen like Muhammad Ali and Arnold Palmer; film industry talent such as Gene Wilder, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Debbie Reynolds, and of course her Star Wars daughter Carrie Fisher; plus others like Nancy Reagan and Fidel Castro. Some important astronomical names were John Glen - the first US astronaut in space, and Vera Ruben – a key investigator of Dark Matter.

Additionally, 2016 saw the passing of a stalwart of New Zealand astronomy, Clive Rowe. Many New Zealand astronomers were mentored by Clive and spoke of his ability to explain difficult concepts in ways that everyone could understand. Alan Gilmore described him as, ‘…one of the most important and creative people in the NZ astronomical community.’ On a more positive note, 2016 saw Norman Dickie celebrating his 100th birthday. Norman has been a RASNZ member for 71 years – longer than many of us have been alive! Stuff.co.nz has a nice article about Norman’s 100th, see - http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/84719956/100-year-old-man-remembers-an-event-97-years-ago

2016 saw the RASNZ Council busy with a number of initiatives and activities – many of our ‘email meetings’ were the ‘mundane’ and behind the scenes work that ensures the future health of the RASNZ. Some of the initiatives will be revealed during this year. It is a real pleasure working with such a committed team whose sole aim is the promotion of astronomy across our land. We would love to see the Society keep growing. Perhaps as a New Year’s resolution, aim at telling one astronomy friend about the RASNZ and how to join!

2017 will see the RASNZ conference in Dunedin from Friday 12th to Sunday 14th May. This will be followed by the 11th Trans-Tasman Occultation Symposium (TTSO11). For details go to - http://www.rasnz.org.nz/groups-news-events/conf-next

May 2017 be a fantastic year for all RASNZ members and may you see many clear, starry skies.

John Drummond,
RASNZ President,
1st January 2017