JENAM, AstroGalicia, IMC, Photokina

Jean-Luc Dighaye

EurAstro is keeping up with the major post-IYA2009 developments. In September 2010, I participated in four events:

1. JENAM 2010

Dr Pedro Russo kindly invited me to co-chair a session of the JENAM conference in Lisbon, Portugal, with him. A joint summary of the session is attached at the end of this report. EurAstro-sponsored Thilina Heenatigala, of Astronomers Without Borders, coming from Sri Lanka, was also lecturing at JENAM. We met Philippe Ailleris, who is developing a methodology for reporting unidentified aerospace phenomena. Michael Risch was representing our partner Baader Planetarium. We made the rest of the journey together, see section 2 below.

2. AstroGalicia 2010

Pedro took us to Espinho near Porto to show us the planetarium where he worked before coming to Germany. After some hours' rest, we made for Boimorto, Galicia, via Vigo and Santiago de Compostela, where a large gathering of enthusiastic, most hospitable observers called AstroGalicia was taking place. When not eating (which we did most of the time - they organise copious, fantastic banquets!), we listened at lectures - such as Prof. Delgado's (see the vignette in the third image), a world-class archaeoastronomer - and we gazed at the stars, before coming all together back to Porto for - guess what? - another banquet.

3. IMC 2010

Dr Giancarlo Tomezzoli and myself attended the International Meteor Conference in Armagh, Northern Ireland. It was quite a busy time since we also wanted to meet our Nepalese friends: Suresh Bhattarai our other EurAstro-sponsored student (first image) and his boss Er. Rishi Shah of NASO/NAST, Takshashila Academy's Bharat Aryal, and tour operator Bharath Giri.

After we observed with the historical refractor operated by IMC organiser Apostolos Christou, we had a late night meeting concerning the building of Human Orreries in Nepal, like the one of Armagh (in the ultra-wide-angle picture, Dr Prakash Atreya, still another Nepalese, is with Giancarlo), and the organisational aspects of our EurAstro tour of Nepal, planned in October-November 2011.

Since EurAstro is running radio-meteor projects, we discussed implementation schemes with Hervé Lamy (image) and Jean-Louis Rault, and since Giancarlo is keen at ethnology, we were active from dawn to late night visiting churches and historical sites like Navan. After taking a picture of Jupiter atop a Celtic cross, however, we gave up and skipped the IMC past-midnight social events...

4. Photokina 2010

Last and least, I scouted the astronomy-oriented booths at the Photokina in Cologne. Most impressive is the development of Chinese products, especially in the high-end telescope and mount sectors, sold under the brands Explore Scientific (and Bresser), iOptron, SkyWatcher (they are starting a whole new line of apochromats; their collapsible Dobsonians are now upgradeable to goto version), Kson - the latter made a timid appearance at the last Photokina edition; now, they offer a complete range of innovative products, apparently of quite decent quality. Competitors beware!

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JENAM 2010 – SPS8 – Amateur and professional astronomers in Europe: how pro-am cooperation is changing astronomy

Jean-Luc L. J. Dighaye (EurAstro, Germany)
Pedro Russo (IAU/IYA2009/ESO, Germany)

The usefulness and future potential of several aspects of pro-am cooperation, in particular those experienced in the framework of the International Year of Astronomy 2009, were assessed. Some formal and informal institutions and associations involved in that cooperation were presented. The instrumentation available to advanced amateurs for imaging, spectroscopic and radio domain applications was reviewed, together with a selection of observational targets most suitable for the cooperation, such as large-scale structures better studied with wide-field amateur optical instruments (example: stellar tidal streams in nearby galaxies) and time-dependent phenomena (example: photometry and spectrometry of variable stars) where the sheer number of available observers and observing time is a definite advantage. The methodology of data reduction was presented, with emphasis on the need for standardised, scientifically meaningful procedures.

Open questions about the future improvements in the cooperation were discussed. A definition of the fields falling within the frame of pro-am cooperation should be given. The role of the IAU, exclusively reserved to professionals before the IYA2009, could change if a working group (or maybe one day a Commission) were established. The ways to educate professionals and amateurs to cooperate, and to bring both groups together, should be explored. Professional databases for the amateurs to mine into, and amateur results usable by the professionals, should be identified. Further fields of cooperation include organisational aspects in education, public outreach and astronomical travel infrastructure.

The organisers believe that this was a very successful session and very well attended (around 50 people).

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