Orwell Astronomical Society (Ipswich)

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Message From Andy Gibbs On Election As Chairman, January 2019

Firstly, I would like to say it is an honour to be elected Chairman of the Orwell Astronomical Society (Ipswich). I will endeavour to do the job to the best of my abilities, respecting all the hard work that has been put in over the last 52 years, resulting in the vibrant Society we have today.

For those who do not know me, here is a brief biography.

My interest in astronomy began at the age of seven or eight. Like many boys born in the 1960’s, I wanted to be either an astronaut or a train driver. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it as an astronaut, but I did achieve my other ambition! My interest was fuelled by observing the Moon and planets through my brother’s 75 mm refractor. I also went down the well-trodden path of writing letters to Patrick Moore (who always replied). I developed other interests as I grew older, but retained my interest in astronomy, albeit from an armchair.

In 2006, I bought a Meade ETX. This got me actively observing again, and buying further telescopes and cameras etc! It was around this time that I started to attend OASI open evenings, finally, getting around to joining the Society in 2012. I do regret not joining earlier, as there is a wealth of knowledge to be gained from some very experienced members of the Society. In September 2018, after 38 years working on the railway, I took early retirement and this has afforded me more time to enjoy my hobby and to help with running OASI.

That’s enough about me. What are my aims during my time as Chairman?

I would like to have a good working relationship with Orwell Park School. We are very lucky to have use of this fine Victorian Observatory, but, as you are aware, the building is in serious need of renovation. I hope that we can find a way forward with the school, in getting the most urgent repairs carried out.

Whilst the Observatory is, and will remain, at the core of our Society, our meetings at Newbourne are a very important part of our activities. The Society has plans to site a container there, enabling us to have a permanent base and to store large telescopes and equipment. This has been a rather lengthy process, but we hope things will be completed soon, subject to planning objections or exceeding our agreed budget. I would like to thank Mike Whybray for his work on this project so far.

We have a busy outreach programme, which I would like to see retained. The most important activities are our open evenings at Orwell Park, which were successfully re-introduced in 2018. I would like to see a couple more star parties introduced during the winter months to compliment our regular solar events during the summer: perhaps these could be held in parks in Ipswich? Of course, outreach events rely on members volunteering to help, and it would be great if we could call on a few more members to join in. It’s good fun, and you don’t have to be an expert or bring a telescope.

OASI would be nothing without its members. If you have any suggestions on what you would like the Society to do, or do better, please do not hesitate to contact me or any committee member.

I would like to thank my immediate predecessors in the role of Chairman: Paul Whiting, for agreeing to the role of caretaker Chairman and allowing me to join the committee to "learn the ropes"; David Murton, for expanding our outreach programme and the hard work he put into organising our 50th anniversary celebrations; and Neil Morley, for extending a warm welcome when I joined the Society and for his continual helpful advice.

A big thank you also to all the committee members for the all hard work involved in keeping OASI the active Society we have today.

Finally, I would like to wish everybody all the best for the coming year, with plenty of clear skies!

Andy Gibbs, OASI Chairman.