First National Convention of Amateur Astronomers, 1967

The first National Convention of Amateur Astronomers was held at the Union Building, Australian National University, in Canberra over Easter 1967 (March 24-26).

The convention was organised by members of the James Cook Astronomers Club, with assistance from the Pacific Astronomical Society.

Looking back, it's interesting to note the following:

  • Neither of these clubs were based in Canberra. The decision to hold the convention in Canberra had been made at the meeting in Katoomba the previous Easter, which was attended by representatives from Canberra.
  • The proposal to start a national journal: this didn't eventuate till nearly twenty years later with the formation of the Australian Journal of Astronomy by John Perdrix after the 1984 NACAA.
  • The best laid plans of mice and men: the 1968 convention was held in Port Macquarie, but the Ballarat convention was in 1969, and Wollongong hosted the 1970 event.
  • The "hot" debate in agreeing on a "constitution". The details have been lost in time, alas. It took thirty years before a properly constituted NACAA was formed in 2006.
  • The funding of the event was proposed to be a joint effort, rather than expecting the hosting society to do it. This didn't seem to happen. Finances were to be constant issue at future delegates meetings, with hosting societies often failing to pass on "seeding funds" to the next hosts.
  • "[A]ll preparations had to be made in a hurry". Nothing has changed.
  • It would be interesting to compare the "600 manhours" for 1967 with the effort involved in running NACAA 2014.
  • The conclusion that Easter would be the best time for future NACAAs. The real issue is the few holiday long weekends that the various states of Australia have in common. In 1967, there were three viable choices: Australia Day, ANZAC Day, and Easter. Given the travel times involved, Easter was the best choice for a two day event. Since then, Australia and ANZAC day are now celebrated on the actual day, rather than on a long weekend. Easter was a wise choice; it's now the only national long weekend.
  • The Sunday visit was to the "Mills Cross", not "Hills".
  • The cost of running a NACAA has increased by two orders of magnitude in five decades.

The first of the attached documents contains a report on the proceedings of the first NACAA. The formatting is as close as possible to the original typewritten layout, and typographical errors have been retained as much as possible.

Steve Russell, May 2014.