Spring seems finally to have sprung, and just in time for Spring Cleaning! The area to the north and east of the observatory was cleared of many trees some months ago but there remained lots of small brush, presenting an area both cluttered and unsightly. Dave Huestis decided the clutter should recede into history, and enlisted the help of junior member Alex Bergemann's Boy Scout troop to clear the debris. More than a dozen scouts and assorted family members, as well as some Skyscrapers members, worked all morning Saturday the 14th and made the area much more presentable. It's amazing how much can be accomplished by a large group of volunteers.
Members who attended the Annual Meeting in April were treated to a fascinating survey of the state of the search for the Higgs boson, a subatomic particle thought to be responsible for generating all known particle masses and bestowing light with its fundamental properties. Professor Bandon Murakami proved once again that physicists can laugh at themselves and at nature in their quest for universal principles.
May's speaker will be Francine Jackson, Skyscrapers member and Director of Frosty Drew Observatory. Her topic will be the historical significance of the Transits of Venus.
I am sure Members share my appreciation of the dedication to the Society shown by outgoing elected officials and others. The organization cannot function without volunteers willing to devote their time and effort to making it work. A new team is forming to carry on the stewardship of the Society for the coming year. Please be mindful of the extra contribution of these members and help them to be successful however you can.
The long and tedious job of bringing our founding documents into the 21st Century was concluded at the April meeting with the approval of extensive revisions to the Constitution and By-Laws. A large number of Members contributed their time at various points in this process to the betterment of the Society. While the magnitude of the changes in practice is not large it is useful for the documents to actually reflect how we have operated for several decades and to serve as guides for the future conduct of the Society. Thanks to all who helped.
The 2012-2013 Budget was approved, as was the recommended Dues increase. It should be noted that, even with the first dues increase in over a decade, the Budget is very tight and care will have to be exercised to live within our means this year.
With little help from Skyscrapers, Venus will transit the sun on June 5th, which celestial event will be visible from Rhode Island (see it now, even the hardiest of us will not live long enough for the next time). However, help from Skyscrapers' members is needed for the public observing programs being organized by Bob Horton. Please contact Bob to see how you can help.
I am in the process of deciding committee assignments for the coming year. In addition to the regular efforts, we will be forming committees to, among other things, handle Membership (and its benefits), Activities (beyond what has been occurring), and Facilities Usage (ranging from toilets to remote access to the scopes). It is too early to predict what will result from these committees so watch this spot for announcements from time to time.
Thank you all for your support of the Observing Committee and the Public Outreach Program. Without all the volunteer time these committees could not continue to perform in the outstanding manner to which we have become accustomed.
On a closing note thank you for the trust you have placed in me and in the other new officers as we begin a new year.