Friday June 29
Session I 10:30-12:00
- R.A. Rosenfeld, The RASC at 150: a History of Advancing Astronomy and Allied Sciences, or Sleeping through the Night?
- Introduces the themes which will be explored in the symposium, and looks at how we might answer “what is the RASC”?
- Andrew Oakes, Communicating Astronomy: C.A. Chant and the RASC
- Clarence Augustus Chant was one of the prime shapers of the Society in the first half of the twentieth century, and his influence arguably still plays a role in the RASC. This presentation explores some aspects of his achievements, and how he brought them about.
- R. Peter Broughton, J.S. Plaskett & the RASC
- John Stanley Plaskett was the first Canadian astrophysicist of international standing, and his is the most likely Canadian career to receive mention in current international histories of astronomy dealing with the period up to 1940. His long and varied relation with the RASC is surveyed here.
- Alan Batten, The Roles and Importance of Scientific Societies
- Scientists have always found it useful to collaborate in societies, the first of which emerged soon after the so-called scientific revolution began in the seventeenth century. Many of them were initially informal and probably many did not survive. Specialist societies began to emerge in the nineteenth century, when there was little distinction between professional and amateur scientists (or “philosophers” as they called themselves until the middle of the nineteenth century). Originally groupings of like-minded people who met together to share their knowledge and to encourage each other, societies soon found it useful to take on a more formal role, to publish their findings in journals, and to educate the wider public about their particular sciences. The balance between professional and amateur in our own Society was altered by the foundation in 1971 of the purely professional Canadian Astronomical Society/Société Canadienne de l’Astronomie, but many of our members still contribute to the advancement of astronomy both by their work and by their outreach to the general public.