- National Australian Convention of Amateur Astronomers
The National Australian Convention of Amateur Astronomers (NACAA) is a biennial national forum for amateur astronomy in Australia.
In 1966 two enthusiastic amateur astronomical groups, the James Cook Astronomers Club and the Canberra Astronomical Society met in Katoomba to discuss holding an astronomy convention in Australia. The first national Australian astronomy convention was subsequently held over Easter in Canberra in 1967, jointly hosted by the James Cook Astronomers Club and the Pacific Astronomical Society (both Sydney-based organisations). Subsequent conventions were held in Port Macquarie (1968), Ballarat (1969), and Wollongong (1970). After four initial annual conventions, it was agreed to hold the event biennially.
The first convention using the title NACAA was held in Melbourne in 1972, hosted by the Astronomical Society of Victoria. The title was devised by John Perdrix by arranging pieces of cardboard, each with the letter of a suitable word, until an appropriate acronym was found. The pronunciation rhymes with "backer".
The choice of Easter as the date to hold the conventions has been problematical. In the early years, the four day holiday provided sufficient time for attendees to travel the long distances involved, mostly by car or train. The convention usually began with a welcome reception on the Friday evening and ended on Monday morning with two days of technical sessions in between. Faster transport in later years lead to suggestions to move the event to a three day holiday weekend instead. The absence of a common holiday weekend shared by all Australian states has prevented this from happening. Instead, the event has expanded in recent years to include additional workshops and symposia, and to encompass most of the four day holiday.
An interesting aspect of NACAA is that for nearly forty years there was no national steering committee to coordinate the event. The organisation of each NACAA was left entirely to the hosting group or society. This arrangement worked surprisingly well for many years, due mainly to the dedication of a small number of regular attendees from the various amateur societies. However, it suffered from problems such as the financial capacity of the hosting society, the level of understanding of the requirements of hosting the event, etc.
A group of regular attendees decided at the 2006 NACAA, following slowly dwindling attendances over the preceding ten years, to create a body to ensure that the tradition of NACAA would continue. NACAA Inc was incorporated in December 2006, only a few months short of forty years after the first national convention. The new body consists of a Secretariat of seven members, assisted by a local organising and a programme committee. Further details can be found at http://nacaa.org.au.
To date, there have been 24 national astronomy conventions in Australia, as detailed below (from Perdix, 2004.)
Year City Host(s) 1967 Canberra James Cook Astronomers Club, Pacific Astronomical Society 1968 Port Macquarie Port Macquarie Astronomical Association 1969 Ballarat Ballaarat Astronomical Society 1970 Wollongong Illawarra Astronomical Society 1972 Melbourne Astronomical Society of Victoria 1974 Adelaide Astronomical Society of South Australia 1976 Sydney Astronomical Society of New South Wales 1978 Canberra Canberra Astronomical Society 1980 Geelong Astronomical Society of Geelong 1982 Brisbane Astronomical Association of Queensland 1984 Perth Astronomical Society of Western Australia 1986 Hobart Astronomical Society of Tasmania 1988 Sydney Astronomical Society of New South Wales, British Astronomical Association (NSW Branch), Sutherland Astronomical Society 1990 Frankston Astronomical Society of Frankston, Astronomical Society of Victoria 1992 Adelaide Astronomical Society of South Australia 1994 Canberra Canberra Astronomical Society 1996 Brisbane Astronomical Association of Queensland, Southern Astronomical Society, Brisbane Astronomical Society, Southeast Queensland Astronomical Society 1998 Sutherland Sutherland Astronomical Society 2000 Perth Astronomy WA 2002 Adelaide Astronomical Society of South Australia 2004 Hobart Astronomical Society of Tasmania 2006 Frankston Mornington Peninsula Astronomical Society 2008 Penrith DMR and NACAA Inc 2010 Canberra Canberra Astronomical Society 2012 Brisbane Astronomical Association of Queensland
The Astronomical Society of Australia has since 1973 presented the Berenice Page Medal to recognise the contributions to astronomical science by Australian amateur astronomers. The Medal has been presented at the NACAA convention dinner since 1986. The recipients (to date) are:
Year Recipient For 1973 Mr Sid Elwin Photometric observations of the occultation of Beta' Scorpii by Jupiter 1975 Mr Dave Herald Observations of Baily Beads in the solar eclipse of 20 June 1974 1981 Mr Bill Bradfield The discovery, up to that time, of 11 comets 1983 Mr Byron Soulsby Work on the oblateness of the umbral shadow 1986 Rev'd Robert Evans Visual discoveries of supernovae 1988 Mr Robert McNaught Photographic nova and supernova observations and discoveries 1990 Mr Barry Adcock Telescope design work and planetary observations 1992 Dr Mal Wilkinson The design and construction of a radio-telescope and subsequent observations of the Io-Jupiter system and for his development of a model for the emissions 1994 Mr Paul Camilleri Discoveries of novae and Mira variables and the development of simple photographic techniques for nova searches 1996 Mr Peter Williams Extensive on-going visual observations of variable stars, especially the R Coronae Borealis variables 1998 Mr Gordon Garradd Significant contributions in the observation of asteroids, comets, novae and supernovae 2000 Mr Andrew Pearce High quality visual observations of comets, variable stars and novae 2002 The Reynolds Amateur Photometry Team Work in association with professional astronomers to provide data on objects such as supernovae, blazars and gamma ray bursts, using the Reynolds 30" telescope at Mount Stromlo Observatory 2004 Mr Colin Bembrick Significant contributions to astronomy from photometric observations of minor planets 2006 Dr Tom Richards Broad ranging CCD photometry lightcurve observations, particularly of minor planets, variable stars and exoplanet searches 2008 Mr John Broughton Systematic survey for southern declination Near Earth Objects, and numerous occultation timings 2010 Mr David Gault Significant observations of Pluto occultations
As well, the Astral Award, originally sponsored by John Perdrix's Astral Press, has been presented for the best presentation at the convention. The recipients of the Astral Award (to date) are:
Year Recipient Title of paper 1986 Tom Cragg CV Aquarii 1988 Peter Jones Computer star maps  1990 Peter Nelson, JL Blanksby, and AW Kruijshoop Recent planetary and lunar occultations by the Occultation Section of the ASV 1992 Peter Nelson and Jim Park Observing mutual phenomena of Jupiter's moons 1991 1994 Fraser Farrell The recruitment and supervision of amateur variable star observers 1996 Zac Pujic The Cookbook CB245 CCD camera: evaluation of performance 1998 Vello Tabur Computer-aided comet hunting 2000 Stephen Russell Chasing shadows: photographing solar eclipses 2002 Colin Bembrick Minor planet light curve determination 2004 Tom Richards Amateurs getting violent: black holes, synchotrons and magnetic flares 2006 Jeff Byron Itokawa, YORP and the Cecil Sayers Observatory 2008 Surjit Wadhwa Light Curve Analysis of Contact Binary Stars 2010 David O'Driscoll Robotic Research for the Amateur Astronomer
- ^ Perdrix, John L. (April 2000). "Australian amateur astronomical conventions: a history of NACAA". Proceedings of the XIX National Convention of Amateur Astronomers. Perth, WA: Astral Press. pp. 61 ff.
- ^ Perdrix, John L. (April 2004). "Australian amateur astronomical conventions III: Approaching maturity". Proceedings of the XXI National Convention of Amateur Astronomers. Hobart, Tasmania: Astral Press. pp. 100 ff.
- ^ a b Adcock, Barry S. (April 1988). "Measurement of Mars' Pole Cap and Associated Atmospheric Haze". Proceedings of the XIII National Convention of Amateur Astronomers. Sydney, NSW. pp. 111 ff.
- ^ An award for best paper was presented by the host societies to Barry Adcock . The presentation of two awards was probably due to the antagonism of the Convenor towards Perdrix's establishment of the Australian Journal of Astronomy, as evidenced at the delegates meeting (SMR, personal communication)
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