The cosmos is the starting point for so much. Our group started as the Bend Astronomy Meetup under the vision of our founder Jim Wiggins. Jim, who worked for JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), saw the importance of turning on everyday people to the wonders of the universe through astronomy using telescopes on sidewalks, as well as the high tech scopes offered by Sunriver and Pine Mountain. It turns out the vision caught on, with 350 members and counting signing up to gaze at this incredible universe of ours. And so it seems wondering about the vastness isn't so unusual after all. It's something that resides deep inside all of us. We want to know how big it all is, where it started, where it's going. The questions never end.
Jim asked me if I would take over the group several months ago and I considered it an honor. Since then I've been doing my best to schedule what I think might be interesting meetups for our members, and since folks have been showing up I think I might be finding some success at it. I've been working with the Sisters Science Club to inform our members of the great presentations they have been putting on at the Belfry and that has turned out to be popular with our members. We've also been taking advantage of the amazing new scope at the Worthy Brewing Hopservatory, led by one of our very informed members and organizers Grant Tandy. I must say there is nothing so sweet as to look at Andromeda in real time at the Hopservatory. I've also been scheduling social meetups where we can get to know one another and even events as far reaching as our recent LIGO trip to take a look at the heart of what has become the new telescope on the block, gravitational wave detection scopes promising to open up yet another frequency (or type) of astronomical observation. Our third organizer Larry, is what one might say is a connoisseur of telescopes. He knows his stuff and if you want to know about scopes, well quite frankly, there is no-one else to ask but Larry.
Our membership are curious people with a desire to learn more about everything and it warms my heart that I can be surrounded by such minds!
Which leads me all back to my original statement, "The cosmos is the starting point for so much". And this is true. If you are like me, you can't wonder about Andromeda without also wondering about the nature of an electron, or light, or living cells or anything that has to do with all that surrounds us. It's just natural that if you are interested in one of the sciences, you will undoubtedly be interested in others. It goes with the territory.
This being the case and in a sincere effort to get more "everyday people" involved in the very important beautiful thing we call science, and after many many hours of discussing this with many of our members, I have decided to change the name of our group to "Astronomy and Beyond".
What does this mean? Well, not a whole lot actually. The name change honors our early members that are very dedicated to the great art of astronomy while offering a way for new members who are into science but perhaps not necessarily astronomy per se' to meet and find each other.
Our group under this name change will not only focus on the amazing world of astronomy but will also offer up meetings that have to do with anything science that I feel will be of interest to our membeship. In other words, we're not just astronomers, we're lovers of science. Amen!