2020 Programme Committee

The NACAA Programme Committee is responsible for the coordination of the technical content of the convention, and providing support to all presenters and contributors.

Stephen Russell Stephen Russell (Chair)
Stephen has been attending NACAA since 1970. His involvement became more serious in 2006 when he volunteered to set up the NACAA Inc web site. Since then he has served as Communication Secretary and three terms as General Secretary. In his spare time, he is interested in occultation observing, solar eclipses, telescope making, and astronomical software.
Bernard Heathcote Bernard Heathcote
Bernard became hooked on astronomy as a boy after seeing the splendours of the Milky Way from the crystal clear skies of the Andes mountains. After an international engineering career he became a part-time farmer and took advantage of his central Victoria dark sky location to take up amateur astronomy in the early 1990s. As he was always interested in the scientific side his initial interest was BVRI photometry but that soon expanded into spectroscopy and for the last 20 years that has been his exclusive interest. His main activity is providing spectral data in pro-am collaborations, from his rural and Melbourne sites, and fostering this activity among the growing number of southern amateur spectroscopists.
Jacquie Milner Jacquie Milner
Jacquie has been an amateur astronomer for 30 years, and has been active in outreach activities for 25 years of that. She spent six years under the dome at the Scitech Planetarium in Perth, and 17 years as a volunteer night-tour guide at Perth Observatory. After moving to Melbourne in 2014, she became a regular with the outreach team for Mount Burnett Observatory and also teaches the juniors in the Young Observers section. At home, she slips a video camera into the back of her 8” SCT to record lunar and asteroid occultations for the RASNZ Occultation Section, which she has been regularly observing and reporting for since 2012.
David O'Driscoll David O'Driscoll
David has particular interests in photometry, astrometry, spectroscopy and robotic telescopes. A member of the Astronomical Association of Queensland and Variable Stars South, David is trying to undertake a research program, but running conferences and managing astronomical websites seem to keep getting in the way. Combined with family and a demanding job, David has decided he has to learn to say "no" more often. Little progress on that aspiration so far.
Rick Stevenson Rick Stevenson
Rick was interested in astronomy from a very early age and maintained this interest despite a well-meaning but frustrating parental gift of a cheap, poor quality refractor. In 2011 he became interested in astrophotography and became just a little obsessed with it. As well as imaging from home and sites around South-East Queensland, he shares remote scopes in California, New Mexico and (very soon) the southern Atacama Desert. He is a member of the AAQ and a keen PixInsight user.
David Wheeler David Wheeler
David’s interest in astronomy began in the womb and he has been plagued by poor seeing ever since. He presently owns three telescopes, sometimes named ‘Rusty’, ‘Dusty’ and ‘Door-stop’, and an ever-expanding (and expending) 'final' eyepiece set. Too lazy to image, he enjoys the beauty of visual astronomy from a mate's place at Bungonia. He has done more public outreach than he can remember, particularly at the Wollongong Science Centre. He has also dipped his toe in amateur astronomy research, especially grazing occultations but now hopes to become a legend in other fields. To this end he has purchased a suitable 'rig' and now just needs the observatory fairy to visit. Oh yes, and the clouds to clear.
Padma A. Yanamandra-Fisher Padma A. Yanamandra-Fisher

Padma studies the nature of light scattering in various media pertaining to the solar system. Her current research focusses on seasonal and temporal changes on Jupiter and Saturn; understanding the thermophysical properties of solar system ices, including observations and models of comets; and polarimetric exploration of the solar system, including the Sun. Her observational programs involve acquisition of data from both global professional facilities such as NASA/IRTF, NOAJ/Subaru, ESO/VLT; and amateur indiviuals and robotic networks such as Slooh.com, iTelescope.Net. Another dimension of Padma’s active research is the inclusion of amateur astronomers in her Pro-Am Collaborative Astronomy (PACA) Project, identifying Pro-Am observing campaigns ranging from comets to planets and polarization. Recent examples include NASA’s Comet ISON and SidingSpring campaigns; ESA’s Rosetta mission to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (CG); development of a polarimetric network for polarization mapping of the outer planets. Converting these campaigns into Citizen Science projects has led to the inclusion of a wider set of researchers and citizen scientists – the recent example being the measurement of the inner solar corona polarization using the Citizen CATE framework during the Total Solar Eclipse (TSE) on 21 August 2017. Additional education/outreach efforts incude informal education, mentoring of students, organizing outreach sessions at scientific meetings and reviewer of NASA education products.

Padma received her Ph.D. from University of Denver, with her thesis addressing particle size distribution in Saturn’a and Uranus’ rings, using Voyager 2 data. She did her Post-Doc at JPL during the Voyager 2 – Neptune encounter and joined the Earth and Planetary Atmospheres group at JPL as a Research Scientist. Her extra-curricular activities involve travel (a favorite destination is Hawaii); gardening; wine-making and enjoying family and friends.