The Third Astronomical Convention

The third national astronomy convention in Australia was held in Ballarat, Easter 1969. It was the first held in Victoria after the ACT and NSW.

The Delegates Meetings were an "interesting" part of each of the early NACAAs. Given the absence of a steering committee, constitution, or agenda, the delegates could do little more than offer to take proposals back to their home societies for discussion two years later. This glacial speed to make decisions continued to be a problem until the formation of NACAA Inc in 2006.

Having elected a Chairman and Secretary, it's interesting to see that it was unanimously agreed that each state had only one vote. Given the number of states represented (3 or 4 at most), this is probably a typographical error. The author may have meant "Society".

Items 1 and 3 on the "Matters Brought Forward" section are particularly interesting. Both of these recognised the importance that some of the delegates attached to forming a steering committee to organise NACAA. Norm Webb outlined the idea using terms such as a "national society" and "grand lodge".

For reasons that are nearly lost in time, there was little interest in NACAA from the larger societies; it seemed to have slipped under their radar [1]. The first four NACAAs were organised by medium sized clubs. The Ballarat event attracted the interest of the ASV, though, and many of their members attended. In spite of the "one vote per state/society" decision, the ASV clearly dominated the discussion regarding the formation of a "Commonwealth" body. They sent it to a committee. 1970 saw the death of the idea [2].

Item 2 is also interesting. Norm Webb clearly felt that the convention should be annual. It's also clear that he had much opposition from the larger clubs. Regardless, the motion was carried, and the IAS hosted the 1970 convention. The next NACAA was held in 1972, and it's been biennial since then.

The only primary source that NACAA has of the convention is the minutes of the Delegates Meeting, which are attached below. We'd be grateful to receive any other contributions.

Steve Russell, May 2014.

[1] Looking back at nearly 50 years of NACAA conventions, it's clear that the two largest societies have never had much interest in NACAA. The ASNSW has only hosted it once (1976), and the ASV twice (1972 and 2014).

[2] It's ironic that some of the ASV members who played key roles in the 1969 delegates meeting  -- Tom Richards and John Perdrix in particular --  and the suppression of attempts to form a national body were instrumental in the formation of NACAA Inc at the meetings held at the NACAAs in 2004 and 2006.

PDF icon Minutes of Delegates Meeting, 1969.pdf120.21 KB