American Astronomical Society Reaches Out to Amateurs

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mikemarotta
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American Astronomical Society Reaches Out to Amateurs

Post by mikemarotta »

A new initiative to include amateurs in the professional organization is being launched at the 237th Meeting, 10-13 January 2021. In 2016, Amateur status was added to the membership categories. Now, the AAS is extending its initiatives for inclusion by actively seeking engagement at the conferences. Ahead of that, an ad hoc committee of correspondence was launched by several AAS members. We held our first meeting online on 16 December.

Speaking to the group, AAS publicist Rick Fienberg underscored the fact that when the AAS was founded in 1899 a significant fraction were amateurs. However, the birth of astro-physics with spectroscopy meant that by the early 20th century the communities already were diverging. Amateurs fell away. Then, by the 1990s, amateurs were equipped with CCD cameras, spectrographs, and now are doing good science in collaboration with professionals. It made sense for the AAS to open its arms to the amateurs in 2016.

Now we have 300 Amateur Affiliates. Also, the AAS recently purchased Sky & Telescope magazine.

That being as it may the AAS opened the membership to amateurs ahead of a defined rationale. So, in the summer of 2019, the Board of Directors created a task force to develop a coherent set of programs and benefits.

======================
Michael E. Marotta, BS, MA.
Assistant Editor
History of Astronomy Division
American Astronomical Society

Vice President
Austin Astronomical Society
Phone 734-223-9054
mike49mercury@gmail.com
STELLAE AVTEM HARENAE.
======================

By the way, I am an amateur. My degrees are in criminology and social science. And you can see by my instruments that I am a hobbyist.
Last edited by mikemarotta on Sun Dec 20, 2020 6:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
=====================================
Michael E. Marotta
Editor - History of Astronomy Division
American Astronomical Society
mike49mercury@gmail.com
Explore Scientific 102 mm Refractor
National Geographic 70 mm Refractor
mikemarotta
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Re: American Astronomical Society Reaches Out to Amateurs

Post by mikemarotta »

An 8 August 2018 press release said:
As long as amateurs do not depend on the field of astronomy as a primary source of income or support, they are now welcome to join the AAS as Amateur Affiliates.

Applicants are required to be a member of an affiliated organization, such as an astronomy club that belongs to the Astronomical League; the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers (ALPO); the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP); the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO); the Society for Astronomical Sciences (SAS); the International Meteor Organization (IMO); the International Occultation Timing Association (IOTA); the Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers (SARA); or the Citizen Science Association, to name a few.

Dues for Amateur Affiliates will be $52 for 2019. Inaugural benefits include reduced registration fees to AAS meetings, access to the AAS family of journals, and the annual AAS Wall Calendar. Additional programs and opportunities are expected for this group once a critical mass is established for survey and feedback purposes.
=====================================
Michael E. Marotta
Editor - History of Astronomy Division
American Astronomical Society
mike49mercury@gmail.com
Explore Scientific 102 mm Refractor
National Geographic 70 mm Refractor
JohnM
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Re: American Astronomical Society Reaches Out to Amateurs

Post by JohnM »

You can virtually attend the AAS meeting as an Amateur Non-members for $145. This gives access to several hundred talks both 'live' as well as the recorded talks for 30 days.

Compared to the costs of attending a physical meeting, flights, hotels & transport this is a bargain. It may be your best access opportunity to attend a AAS meeting.

If you are attending the AAS administration have just responded to my request and created a new channel called #splinter-amateur-astronomers-meet, this is available in the SLACK meeting software after you have joined up.

Hope to see some of the SPA members in the #splinter-amateur-astronomers-meet channel. I am aware of 3 UK Amateur astronomers attending - why not join us ?

There is also an Amateur Astronomers meet and greet session. It is quite late UK time but we are astronomers we stay up all night and sleep all day - very convenient with the 5 hour time difference.
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JohnM
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Re: American Astronomical Society Reaches Out to Amateurs

Post by JohnM »

For information the current number of people signed up is over 2,700, not sure how many count themselves as Amateur Astronomers ? Some professionals seem to count as both. Perhaps the criteria is you need to look through an eyepiece occasionally ?
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mikemarotta
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Re: American Astronomical Society Reaches Out to Amateurs

Post by mikemarotta »

I do not know how many people are registered for the Amateur Meet & Greet Thursday night, but only 300 is the number of Affliates total. Your figure of 2700 must be for the entire conference. Overwhelmingly, the AAS is made up of university astronomers with a few kinds of others.
=====================================
Michael E. Marotta
Editor - History of Astronomy Division
American Astronomical Society
mike49mercury@gmail.com
Explore Scientific 102 mm Refractor
National Geographic 70 mm Refractor
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Re: American Astronomical Society Reaches Out to Amateurs

Post by mikemarotta »

The Session Notes from the Convention Schedule
Jan 14 2021 6:50PM
Amateur Astronomers Meet & Greet
"Recognizing the increasingly important role of backyard stargazers in astronomical research, science advocacy, and public outreach, the AAS recently created a new membership class: Amateur Affiliate. Subsequently the Society became the owner/publisher of Sky & Telescope after the magazine’s former owner went out of business. As 2021 begins, the AAS has about 300 Amateur Affiliate members. Many of them, as well as many S&T readers and other amateur astronomers who haven’t yet joined the Society, have registered to attend AAS 237. If you’re among them, please join us for this virtual get-together. (Others interested in meeting an engaged group of astronomy enthusiasts are welcome too!) In addition to getting to know each other, we’ll hear from Rick Fienberg, AAS Press Officer and former S&T Editor in Chief, about how the AAS plans to bring professional and amateur astronomers closer together for our mutual benefit. You’ll also have an opportunity to offer your own ideas about how the AAS can be more supportive and encouraging to amateur astronomers."

As I said above, I am an amateur. One way I look at it is from our Internal Revenue Service rules. The annual income tax form has exactly one box at the top for your occupation. However, we also can "schedule" other incomes. So, an automobile mechanic who sells an article to Sky & Telescope, has their occupation and some scheduled income.
======================
Michael E. Marotta, BS, MA.
Assistant Editor
History of Astronomy Division
American Astronomical Society

Vice President
Austin Astronomical Society

Member: BAA, ASP, SPA
=====================
=====================================
Michael E. Marotta
Editor - History of Astronomy Division
American Astronomical Society
mike49mercury@gmail.com
Explore Scientific 102 mm Refractor
National Geographic 70 mm Refractor
JohnM
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Re: American Astronomical Society Reaches Out to Amateurs

Post by JohnM »

Mike - I got the AAS to start the splinter group for Amateur Astronomers at the 237th AAS meeting to chat about items of interest. It has attracted a range of both Amateur Astronomers as well as professionals who are either Amateur astronomers as well or work with Amateur Astronomers. I have counted Citizen Scientists as Amateur Astronomers though a lot of them like me are 'assisting' professional astronomers and or are making their own discoveries.

Tonight's AAVSO seminar has a lot about how Amateur photometry supports their observations with space based, radio and large optical telescopes. Of course Amateur Astronomers are also refining the timing curves the timings for exoplanet transits to support some of the upcoming space based missions that will be looking for exoplanet transits.
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mikemarotta
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Re: American Astronomical Society Reaches Out to Amateurs

Post by mikemarotta »

I asked for a break-out to discuss forming our own newsletter, starting, perhaps with an email list or a webpage.

From Email List to Newsletter to Journal?
Amateur Affiliates Section Communications
By Michael E. Marotta, AAS BAA SPA ASP


To support our section, we need a communications platform. The medium (or media) will depend on what we want to provide the community.

As this is a new effort, I recommend beginning with an email list. That is the traditional means of informal communication. It will allow us to build our community. If you remember Usenet or know Google Groups (now Google.io), then you understand the medium and the messages. Another way to achieve this is through our own discussion board. Cloudy Nights is probably the best known example. Others include The Sky Searchers, and Stargazers. If you have participated on one of those, or even read as a visitor, then you understand what that kind of a platform can do for us.

Assuming that active interest exists and is being tapped, then the next step would be a newsletter. Rather than falling back into print, it might make more sense to begin with a faux-print format, such as Adobe PDF. The newsletter could be composed and presented in the traditional style, but be emailed out or be provided through a website, or both, but never be print.

Allow me to recommend the name Periastron because we are in closest proximity to the American Astronomical Society. Contents subheads could include:
Aspects–Periodic regular feature column, each one focused on one of the many different ways to practice astronomy as an amateur: observation, sketching, astrophotography, spectroscopy, continuing education, service in an organization (local club officer), public outreach, citizen science (dark skies, funding advocacy), interfacing with professionals (AVSO and others), teaching (bringing astronomy to English, history, mathematics, etc.).
Samples and Sums–Regular column pointing to news and features from the media of other amateur organizations such as the Society for Popular Astronomy, Amateur Astronomy magazine, the Astronomical League, Association of Lunar and Planetary Astronomers, and local, state and foreign clubs.
Signals–Generally paragraph-level activity reports and updates from members about what they have been doing lately.
Prominences–Activity features up to 1000 words from members on significant engagements.

Whether we need a journal is a different question. The Journal of Amateur Astronomy sounds like an oxymoron. The key consideration for us is that journal papers are peer-reviewed before publication. As amateurs among amateurs, our announcements are reviewed after publication.

======================
Michael E. Marotta,
STELLAE AVTEM HARENAE.
======================
=====================================
Michael E. Marotta
Editor - History of Astronomy Division
American Astronomical Society
mike49mercury@gmail.com
Explore Scientific 102 mm Refractor
National Geographic 70 mm Refractor
michael feist
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Re: American Astronomical Society Reaches Out to Amateurs

Post by michael feist »

As an aside to the general discussion here, the comment ' perhaps the criterion is that you need to look through an eyepiece occasional' . I often wonder how many members of astronomical clubs / societies at least in Britain, every do this on a regular basis. What percentage of, say the SPA membership spend regular time 'at the eyepiece'? regards maf -watcher of the skies.
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Re: American Astronomical Society Reaches Out to Amateurs

Post by SkyBrowser »

Perhaps the SPA could survey members?

I'd like to say I'm a regular observer, but I find it ever harder to get out once the temperature drops below 5C. When younger I'd often come in at 3AM covered in frost, fall into bed, drop straight off and get up the next morning and go to work! Now when I do come in at 3AM (summer mainly!) the next day tends to be a washout.
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Re: American Astronomical Society Reaches Out to Amateurs

Post by michael feist »

Obviously the degree and type of observing done is going to be very dependent on ones location, age and interests. And of course available time, type of equipment one can handle and afford, and restrictions as one ages. The 'outreach to amateurs' being discussed here does seem to be aimed at amateurs who are almost at the scientific / mathematical level of professional astronomers. Observing, as a hobby or past-time at a 'gentler' and perhaps less of a scientific level is as valid and such practitioners may be equally dedicated. I compare the difference between the two by comparing birdwatching to ornithology. The number of bjrdwatchers c/w binoculars must greatly outnumber serious ornithologists.
For this very reason I do not consider myself to be an 'Amateur Astronomer' but rather a 'Skywatcher', extending my range to include Rainbows, Haloes, etc, clouds and even Birdwatching. I guess, for me it is all part of Nature-watching.
A good proportion of amateurs astronomers seem to spend much of their time 'Imaging' and then siting at the computer to bring out the full information and picture. The results can be astounding compared with the the previous, emulsion-age, but I guess, at 77years old, I belong to an earlier and pre-computer age. Regards maf - watcher of the skies.
mikemarotta
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Re: American Astronomical Society Reaches Out to Amateurs

Post by mikemarotta »

michael feist wrote: Thu Jan 14, 2021 8:21 am Obviously the degree and type of observing done is going to be very dependent on ... compare the difference between the two by comparing birdwatching to ornithology.
In the session last night, they culled out "astronomy enthusiasts" as those who do not own telescopes but are interested in or fascinated by the study. Those people, it was suggested, include a fair number who are good with computers: programmers in Python, database analysts, and so on. They would be ideal co-workers on datamining projects such as Zooniverse. Across whatever skills people without telescopes happen to have, there are ways that they might love to be engaged at whatever depth suits them.
michael feist wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 1:03 pm As an aside to the general discussion here, the comment ' perhaps the criterion is that you need to look through an eyepiece occasional' . I often wonder how many members ...What percentage of, say...
Right. As above. There was a time when you could not be a serious amateur if you did not make your own telescope. Though relatively "many" people owned them, they really were for the privileged and truly and comfortably middle class. Any bright youngster from a working class family typically had more time and skill than money. But all that has long since changed and amateur telescope making (ATM) is a specialty, like spectroscopy. My own passions include history and the development of theory. Also, I am taking an online class now in astrophysics. I do enjoy going out with my telescope; and I do it often. But I do not need to do that in order to practice either of the other two.
=====================================
Michael E. Marotta
Editor - History of Astronomy Division
American Astronomical Society
mike49mercury@gmail.com
Explore Scientific 102 mm Refractor
National Geographic 70 mm Refractor
mikemarotta
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Re: American Astronomical Society Reaches Out to Amateurs

Post by mikemarotta »

Ahead of that 14 January 2021 Meet-and-Greet at the 237th Meeting of the AAS, I sent this to the early adopters who had met on 20 December 2020.
An Amateur Astronomer’s Credo

My love of astronomy is its own justification.
I am motivated to practice the science of astronomy by my enjoyment of the activity.

I choose my own research projects.
I can change (or abandon) my research programs, goals, and methods.
My funding and my spending are my own.
I schedule my own time.
I choose my own instruments and equipment.
I schedule my own instruments and equipment.
I choose when and how to share my instruments or equipment.

My amateur colleagues and I call each other by our first names. We also have cool usernames.

I do not need approval from anyone to engage in and practice astronomy.
My advancement does not depend on approval from another person or group.
When I publicize my work, peer review is after the fact, not as permission to publish.
My publications stand on their own merit, independent of my name or ascribed status.

My learning is continuous and informal, an integrated aspect of my life and lifestyle.
I decide when and how to extend my knowledge, drawing from an open market of learning platforms including self-paced and self-directed studies offered by accredited organizations. I also benefit from public libraries and bookstores. Through social media, I ask questions. My love of the learning is its own justification, motivation, and reward.
=====================================
Michael E. Marotta
Editor - History of Astronomy Division
American Astronomical Society
mike49mercury@gmail.com
Explore Scientific 102 mm Refractor
National Geographic 70 mm Refractor
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