Above: The changed technology of libraries and library lectures (all used), including a slide projector (property of my late, great-uncle Gus Columbus) with a two-slide carousel (and a book of slides for which any spelling errors were deemed too expensive to fix), an LCD projector (I had to have one because Stu Forster had one), for which fresh slide updates and audio/video are no problem in a darkened room, and a Sandisk USB stick with built-in wifi to transfer slides to an existing projector system by USB and to set up a local network for attendees to download media after the presentation.
Yes, a series of articles about the importance of amateur astronomers coming together as a community through outreach, just in time for a global pandemic to keep everyone from coming together (for a while, anyway).
The March/April 2020 issue of Free Astronomy Magazine has been available for your downloading pleasure for (a, here, long) three weeks, featuring an opening article by myself and an international perspective (Spain, Catalonia and Italy) by the editor Michele Ferrara and other contributing language editors on the general topics of the state of amateur astronomy and outreach in our respective locations.
We were all given great flexibility in our content, so I went with a very CNY-centric perspective on some of the great observing/outreach events, as well as their hosts, we’ve known in the past decade-or-so (while trying to name-drop all the area astronomy clubs in the process). These include shout-outs to some of the better-known lectures/observers, including David Bishop with ASRAS, Larry Slosberg with CNYO, James Callens with Western NY Astronomers, Bob Piekiel and his near-rock-solid monthly schedule at Baltimore Woods, my favorite classicist and dark sky proponent Prof. John McMahon, and the late, great Barlow Bob.
Writing an article that then undergoes several translations is an interesting exercise in clear thoughts and limited, in my case, Americanisms. Ain’t easy as pie, dig? I suspect all of us contributing articles could have gone into all kinds of additional details about our experiences and other ways we’ve seen the astronomy scene change over these many years in terms of technology and outreach activities, but the need to not melt the brains of our fellow editors forces a kind of brevity (unlike this sentence). Michele continues to have my utmost respect for taking on the task of first-pass translations to hand off to each of us in these cases to produce a great bimonthly multi-language magazine.
The science returns with the May/June issue. In the meantime, please give this issue a good read. If any of the discussion peaks your interest and you’ve something to say about it, consider dropping Michele a line, commenting on the Free Astronomy Magazine Facebook page, or otherwise drop me a line.
Specifically so – if you fall into the category of potential public amateur astronomer described in the final section of my article, I urge you to consider making your presence known to your community – after your 14-day self-isolation, of course (you should easily get a number of presentation slides together with two free weeks).