45th AGM Saturday 18th June

The 45th AGM is due Saturday 18th 2016
Members are invited to nominate themselves or others for the posts. Competition is good!
The usual form is that the meeting starts with the AGM and depending on length an entertaining talk is arrange for the second half.
This year: Who gets the fame for the BIG BANG?


Minutes of last year’s meeting are below.


Minutes of the 44th Annual General Meeting of the Reading Astronomical Society, held at St. Peter’s Church Hall, Earley at 2100 on Saturday 20th June 2015.

There were 39 members present, of whom 5 were serving officers of the Society.

 1. Chairperson’s welcome

 The Chairman, John Talbot thanked members for attending.  Some copies of the 2014 AGM and Agenda had been circulated prior to the meeting and had been emailed to members.

2. Apologies for Absence

 Chis Menmuir (Sec), Anne Chadwick (Vice Chairman), Peter Tickner (Technical Officer), Sheila Jordan (Treasurer).

Present: – John Talbot (Chairman), Gerry Bond (Basics), Alun Halsey (Techincal Officer), Kenelm England (Librarian), Malcolm Brown (Asst Sec).

3. Minutes of the last AGM, and Matters Arising

There were no comments regarding the 2014 AGM Minutes which were accepted as a true record.  There were no matters arising or actions.

4. Treasurer’s report

The Treasurer provided copies of the 2014/2015accounts which are currently being audited.  Income was reported at £2248.13 against expenditure of £1943.96, giving an excess of income over expenditure of £304.17.   Society funds are £6438.41.

There are no proposals to change the current membership fees.

5. Librarian’s Report

 The Librarian reported that all books have been available for loan at the main Saturday Meetings.  There have been some donations and gifts from members during the year.  The Librarian welcomes any suggestions for new titles to be purchased.  The Librarian reported that the internet is now a dominant source of information but books still had a place.  The Librarian has compiled a Library catalogue which is in spreadsheet format on the Reading Astro Yahoo Group.  Gerry Bond reported that he had also compiled a catalogue from photographing the books in their shelves which he has placed on the Internet using Librarything.com.  All of the VHS video tapes have been disposed of, to be replaced as required by DVDs.

Club funds are always available for the purchase of books and other material.  If any particular book is needed, advise the Librarian. A member from the audience enquired about obtaining literature which would appeal to the junior members of the Society.

6. Astro Basics Report

 The Basics meetings were successful, with most meetings having an attendance in the range of 40 people.

Meetings are held on the 4th Friday of the month, with 9 meetings in the year and are open to all as part of the Society’s Outreach programme.  About half of the attendees are new to the society.

Some useful contacts have been made with Dr Antonio Portas of University of Reading Department of Meteorology, from which more co-operation is expected. GB’s dream scenario is that there may be possibilities for storing some of the Society’s larger kit at this campus, through the offices of Dr Portas, eg display boards and larger kit.

He would like to have heavy telescopes in the room for practical “hands on” session but we cannot have use of this room for the September meeting that Wayne, Alun and Peter were planning.

GB reported that two sessions in support to British Science Week were held at the UoR London Road campus, where use was made of a small lecture theatre and some visual observing for the public was conducted on the grass quad near the Great Hall.  This was deemed to be a great success, a better site than the nearby MERL facilities because car parking was better.


 7. Equipment Report

 Alun Halsey reported that he looks after and maintains the Society’s equipment.  Photos of the equipment have been posted on the Yahoo group.

Alun co-ordinates most of the observing sessions held at our local dark sky site.  We plan a session to observe the Perseid Meteor shower on night of 12/13 August, weather permitting.  AH requested that if any one wished to go there at any other time to let him know so that the site owners can be advised.

8. Chairman’s Report

The Chairman provided a summary of the year. We have 96 members.  He thanked the main speakers and all the second half speakers for their excellent contributions. The 2015/16 programme is nearly complete and if any members have a favourite speaker or subject, please let the committee know so that we can slot them in.

The Chairman thanked those members who has given time and lent equipment at public events throughout the year which has ensured good promotion of the Society.

The Chairman’s report is appended to these minutes.

9. President’s Prize

 The President’s Prize is awarded annually at the discretion of the executive committee to a member or members who have in the opinion of the committee made a significant contribution to the society either by their observational astronomy or by the completion of a suitable project furthering the objectives of the charity.

GB reported that “John Paraskeva is to most people just a member of the Society who comes and listens to lectures.  His astronomical interest is spectroscopy and he is better known outside the Society for that.  The Yahoo group, whimsically called “Astrobodger” has 221 members and is based around the use of spectroscopy software known as BASS (Basic Astronomical Spectroscopy Software) which was written and has been maintained by John.  Since July 2012, the site has been very active and John has been continually updating the programme since in response to his active followers.

John is awarded the President’s Prize as recognition of this contribution to amateur astronomy, for the way spectroscopy is dedicated to collecting scientific data and in the way it underlies all the theories of the modern universe.  John’s contribution deserves this acknowledgement by the Society.”


10. Election of Officers

The nominations for the committee for the next session are as follows:


ChairmanChairman      John Talbot

Vice-Chairman                        Anne Chadwick

Treasurer                     Val Coney or Tracy Talbot (to be confirmed)

Secretary                      Chris Menmuir

Assistant Secretary       Malcolm Brown

AstroBasics Section     Gerry Bond

Librarian                      Kenelm England

Equipment                   Alun Halsey

Technical                     Peter Tickner

Ordinary Members       Eddie Thorpe and John Paraskeva


John proposed that the new committee should be accepted en bloc.  Marc Charron seconded this motion. A unanimous vote was in favour of the new committee.

11. AOB

a. August Imaging Workshop Saturday August 8th ,1200 – 1700 hrs

Alun Halsey, Peter Tickner, Gerry Bond and John Talbot will hold an imaging workshop open to all.  Just come along, you ask questions, panel will try to answer.  There will be demonstrations.

b. Society Observatory

A society member (don’t know his name, keen radio astronomer, takes notes at meetings) asked about possibility of establishing a Society Observatory.  GB reported that investigations have been made about getting a gate in the fence between the Church Hall and Sol Joel Park so that the space could be used for observations after any of our meetings are held.  Parish Council are keen to make more use of the park.  Formal application needs to be made to the Church Hall committee.  An additional complication is that the Scouts may wish to expand their building which would affect the siting of the gate.

The question of establishing an observatory has been raised in the past. There are pros and cons, amongst which are finding the land, funds, security.  The matter can be taken on board by the new committee.  A show of hands indicated that a few people (8) may be interested in an observatory.  GB reported that in the time he has been a member of the Society, technology has got improved so that today, members are making better observations in their own gardens than they would in a jointly owned observatory. JT commented that if we had a permanent set up at say Farley Hill, then a lot of members would use it.  Martin Berger suggested investigating the possibility of establishing a shared facility with another society such as Newbury or Maidenhead.  Tim Haynes said that he could visit Hampshire Astronomy Group to find out how they run their observatory at Clanfield.

c. Solar Observing.

Eddie Thorpe asked about practical solar observing sessions.  GB said that we could investigate doing this at Farley Hill when the cricket club was playing.  Any sessions are subject to weather permitting. Ah will organise a session.

d. Solar Eclipse Trip to USA 2017

A member (radio astronomer) asked about a society trip to USA to observe the 2017 Solar Eclipse.  GB reported that the November speaker, David Philips, of Explorers Tours, TUI Group will talk about Eclipses and Tourism which should be interesting.  GB reported that tours for the 2017 event are now sold out, so if anyone wishes to go, they should do it privately and do it at the last moment.  The Chairman reported it is on the committee agenda to discuss a possible Society meet up for the eclipse in the USA and to watch this space

e. Future Meetings

A member asked if any talks had been lined up on current projects, for example Pluto New Horizons.  GB reported that he was working on Rosetta but that people seemed to be busy at the moment!  It was asked if we could have an professional speaker for a Friday meeting – we do have enough cash to support this.  Chairman reported that we were trying to get someone to come and talk about Pluto.

There being no further business, the meeting was closed at 2145
Assistant Secretary, Malcolm Brown
Signed:             John Talbot, Chairman;                                               Chris Menmuir,  Secretary
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