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RobertI

CDAA 50th anniversary meeting

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Posted (edited)

I attended a fantastic evening on Thursday to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Clacton and District Astronomical Association (CDAA). The club was formed in January 1969 as a result of the excitement surrounding the Apollo space programme and has been meeting monthly ever since. I was a very active member of the club in my teens between 1979 and 1985 and the enthusiasm of the members encouraged me to go onto do an astronomy degree and retain a life long passion for the subject, so I owe them a lot. I was privileged to be invited along as a 'special guest' and was very warmly welcomed.

The highlight of the evening was a talk by Nik Zymanek about image processing. Nik has helped the club on a number of occasions and in recogntion he was presented with life membership, which he seemed very pleased with. Before Nik's talk however, there was a fascinating talk by two key memebers about the history of the club. Highlights included the following: 

  • A history of the club's observatory in the grounds of the local school housing an 8.5 " driven reflector. The observatory was built by members in 1975 and was a focal point of the club for 22 years. Sadly in 1997 it had to be decommissioned and demolished due to persistent vandalism. One of the observatory log books was on show during the evening I and read a number of observating reports I made in 1983 and 1984 using the scope which brought back many memories (and plenty of things I didn't remember!).
  • Some fascinating extracts from a book entitled 'The Dome on the Green' written by ex-Chairman Chris Haskell and documenting history of the observatory.
  • Some pictures from the 1984 Clacton Astronomy Show at the town hall, where Patrick Moore was the key speaker and I was lucky enough to accompany him to the pub afterwards.
  • An overview of the 'Clacton Dobsonian' - a design created by one of the members for a 'folding' newtonian reflector. An article was published in Astronomy Now (see end of post) and plans were made available to the public. There are known examples still in use around the world.
  • A brief profile of two ex-members who have gone on to great things, one now being a professor at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and the other being head of the space division of the Met Office.
  • Extracts from club's magazine from the 80's entitled 'Apollo'.

One sad observation by the speaker was that it was almost impossible to attract younger members these days, I may post a separate topic to see how other clubs tackle this issue. Despite this the club has its highest ever membership so they must be doing something right.

The evening ended with the cutting of a specially made cake and a sumptuous buffet. As a result of the evening I offered to give a talk which was eagerly accepted - what have I done?! :) 

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Edited by RobertI
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That’s a lovely report Robert.

My personal experience is that joining a local astro club has been my best decision ive made in my astro hobby. I’ve made some great friends and I find observing with others is much more fun than observing on my own. A member of the club even introduced to my night vision astro - (you know who you are PeterW ?)

I can see from the photo that there’s very few young people who are members of the Clacton club (much like my astro club). I guess it reflects how society has changed. However, I got in astro after I hit 40, and I think that’s quite common, so maybe we need to encourage the 40 somethings as well as the youngsters. It would be great to have a club with lots of younger members though! (My 5 year old daughter is very keen so maybe she will be joining me in a few years ?)

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