HAMPSTEAD SCIENTIFIC SOCIETY


Minutes of Annual General Meeting held at
The Crypt Room, St John's Church, Hampstead, on 17th June 2010.

Present: Doug Daniels (President) and 24 members.

1. Minutes of A.G.M 25th June 2009

These were signed by the President as a correct record with the following amendment:

The AGM was not held at The Crypt Room but at the Age Concern Resource Centre, Henderson Court, Prince Arthur Rd, Hampstead.

2. President's Remarks

The President remarked that the Society had again experienced a good year with a slight increase in membership. 2010 was a significant year in the Society's history being the centenary of the founding of the Society's Observatory and Met. Station.

Council had been sorry to receive the resignations of Hemant Desai and Elisabeth Davies, and thanked them for their past services. Council had co-opted Julia Daniels and Martin Williams to remain quorate.

The President thanked Council members for their continued enthusiasm and support and those members who had provided refreshments. He remarked that the Honorary Secretary, Julie Atkinson, put in an enormous amount of work, made more difficult this year by moving house.

The Programme Secretary, Jim Brightwell had completed next session's programme in record time, maintaining an excellent variety of lectures. The new programme cards were being printed and the programme was on the web-site.

The President thanked John Tennant our new Hon. Treasurer and Membership Secretary who had kept a firm grip on the Society finances. Members could assist him by paying their subscriptions in good time.

Finally, he thanked all members who help out at meetings, putting out and putting back chairs and assisting at coffee break, and Martin who hosts the post meeting social gatherings at the Flask.

3. Secretary's Report

The Secretary reported another year of good lectures, and reminded members of the topics. She gave a taste of the lecture programme for next year.

Membership was 119, a little up on last year, a steady progression.

This year, none of the usual members of the Science Week subcommittee were able to contribute to a programme, due to moving house, or illness, or other commitments. However, the schools we usually collaborate with had both produced their own programmes, most of which were open to the public.

The Society officially attended British Science Association Branches Forum at the Science Festival in Guildford in September. And we received a grant from them for the printing costs of the programme cards.

Following the President, the Secretary thanked Council, in particular those who had left or were standing down. She thanked Doug Daniels and Peter Wallis for the newsletter and its content, Martin Williams for continued sponsorship of the web site, all those who help with coffee and chairs at the meetings and finally those who had contributed food and wine for the evening- Elisabeth Fischer, Julia Daniels, and Peter Wallis.

Elisabeth Fischer proposed that the secretary's report be accepted. Julia Daniels seconded. The meeting agreed.

4. Treasurer's Report

The Treasurer, John Tennant, distributed copies of the accounts and gave his report.

The expenditure for the last year was down overall by 6% on the previous year. The refurbishment of the Crypt Room had lead to an increase in the charge of 25% for next year's booking and a supplementary charge for this year's programme. With the booking of one lecture at the Age Concern rooms and lecturers' expenses, bookings and expenses in total are up 47% on last year. The observatory costs were up 5% due to rises in insurance and telephone line rental. Administration costs were down, partly because the August newsletter postage was purchased after the 31st of May. There was an 8% saving on refreshments. There were no expenses or income for Science Week and no major expenditure under miscellaneous.

The membership subscription income had not changed appreciably. The tax recovery payment from the Inland Revenue was pending and expected to be similar to last year. Donations increased by 40% mainly due to an anonymous donation of £100. Sales of Centenary books were up but with no payment from Haycock Associates for meteorological data this year, sales overall are down. Interest rates this year have remained very low. Consequentially income for this year is appreciably down on last year's elevated figure.

Our financial capital at year end (31/5/2010) is £12359.03 marginally up.

Julie Atkinson commented that income and expenditure were pretty balanced, with £24 in credit, even without the tax recovery payment.

Doug Daniels proposed that the report be accepted, Peter Wallis seconded and the meeting agreed.

5. Election of Officers and Council

The Secretary announced that Council had elected Doug Daniels as President at the Council meeting on 20th April 2010.

As there were no further nominations, the following officers proposed by Council were declared as elected:
Julie Atkinson Hon. Secretary John Tennant Hon. Treasurer
Jim Brightwell Hon. Programme Secretary John TennantHon. Membership Secretary

Nayna Kumari retires from Council under the four year rule. Hemant Desai and Elizabeth Davies resigned from Council during the year, and Council co-opted Julia Daniels and Martin Williams to take their places.

The following nominations had been received for the five ordinary members of Council:
NomineeLeo McLaughlinJulia DanielsMartin WilliamsRoger O'BrienPeter Stern
Nominated byCouncilCouncilCouncilSimon Lang, Doug DanielsJulie Atkinson, Doug Daniels

As there were no further nominations, these nominees were declared as elected to Council.

6. Election of Auditors

The President proposed Leo McLaughlin and Martin Williams. Both were willing to act. The meeting elected them both.

Leo McLaughlin asked whether the 4 year rule applied to auditors, but it does not.

7. Astronomy Section Report

The Astronomical Section Secretary, Doug Daniels, presented his report, summarised below. (An expanded account is on the web site.)

On June 28th, the Observatory hosted a visit by the Flamsteed Society, based at the ROG.

On 22nd of July there was a total eclipse of the Sun. No part was visible from Hampstead, but Jim Brightwell, David Brown and Trevor Law journeyed to China to observe it. Unfortunately the entire eclipse was clouded out.

Towards the end of July, a possible comet/asteroid impact had occurred in the south polar region of Jupiter. Simon Lang opened the observatory on the 17th, 18th and 22nd of August. Simon reported that the impact site was plainly visible on the 18th. Plans were made to image it on the 22nd and 25th but skies clouded up.

Eight members of the section turned up for the annual working party on Sunday September 6th, a generally fine mild day. The steps and path were cleared of weeds, and the exterior of the whole building was given a coat of wood preservative. Simon Lang made mounting brackets for the new finder that he had generously donated to the Observatory. The Astro. Sec thanked Simon and all who took part and Julia Daniels for lunch.

Both Roger O'Brien and Ennio Tabone were made demonstrators for the new session and we welcomed new assistants Abigale Frost and Nik Beric. The first clear Saturday evening of the new session was well attended and apart from Jupiter, visitors were treated to views of the International Space Station passing overhead and some meteor activity. At the same time, Terry Pearce and the Astro. Sec. attended the astronomical exhibition and weekend camp at Herstmonceux. Castle Sussex, once the home of the Royal Observatory.

On September 18th the Astro Sec. and the Assistant Astro Sec. accompanied Terry Pearce to a meeting of the Hanwell Astronomical Society in Oxfordshire. Terry had recently completed the 30-inch mirror for their telescope and the meeting was to celebrate this and to show the progress on the huge new telescope.

On September 25th our observatory was visited by over 20 members of The London Appreciation Society. plus a dozen or so members of the public. We were fortunate to have a totally clear night and visitors were treated to views of a near first quarter moon, Jupiter and several Messier objects.

It was decided to open the observatory on New Year's Eve Thursday 31st of December to observe several interesting events, and again on New Year's Day but the weather prevented any observations and shortly afterwards snow began to fall. The heavy snowfall prevented any observations at the beginning of January 2010 and then it was discovered that the lock on the outer gate had jammed preventing our access to the site. The Astro. Sec. contacted Thames Water who gave us permission to do what was necessary to solve the problem. This caused the observatory to be closed for the whole of January. Once the snow had melted, the Astro. Sec. managed to sort out the problem with the gate lock and open nights resumed.

From April 15th for six days all aircraft were grounded due to a volcanic eruption in Iceland and it was a treat to experience clear skies free from aircraft contrails. The seeing at the observatory on the night of 16th April was superb.

On Sunday April 25th 2010, the Hampstead Observatory and Meteorological Station celebrated its centenary. A full day celebration at the Observatory consisted of a party and exhibition for members and guests from 12:30 pm until 3:00 pm after which time it was opened to members of the public. Our guests included Peter Hingley from the RAS, Richard Mc.Kim and Bob Marriott from the BAA and members of ASH, WOLAS and Loughton Astronomical Societies.

The President made a short speech detailing the early history of the Observatory and thanking all those who had helped, in particular Simon Lang. The President then handed over to the Meteorological Secretary, Philip Eden, who described how the Meteorological Section now boasted a century of daily readings from the same site. Philip was then presented with two commemorative plaques by Steve Haynes from the Meteorological Office, one for himself and the other to hang in the Observatory. All present then drank a toast to the Observatory's centenary with the hope that it would continue its contribution to astronomy and meteorology for at least another 100 years.

Upwards of 80 people, enjoyed the exhibition and party. The President thanked all those members who worked so hard to prepare the Observatory, and all those who donated food, and brought instruments, making this a very special, enjoyable and memorable occasion.

Public open nights continued until May 16th in order to give visitors the chance to see the exhibition and take a last look at Saturn with the ring system almost edge-on. During this session over 1000 visitors came to the Observatory a great result in our centenary year.

Philip Eden asked if the Icelandic volcano ash itself had had a deleterious effect? Doug Daniels confirmed that it had not.

Doug Daniels was asked how the Observatory lock had been opened, and he replied that the lock was very old and actually didn't match up. It was fixed by filing. Peter Stern asked who owned the site. Doug Daniels replied that it was Thames Water. They don't use the gate, but since it was their property we had to let them know about the problem.

Julie Atkinson proposed that the report be accepted, Elisabeth Fischer seconded and the meeting agreed.

Julia Daniels then presented the Astronomy Section accounts.

The Section spent £192 on observatory maintenance, mainly for paint and brushes and wood preservative, for painting the building inside and out. She thanked the volunteers. We spent £20 on postage, and £26 on photocopies, which was roughly double last year's figure, but this was because we had extra circulars to send out in connection with the Observatory Centenary party. The centenary party cost us £280, bringing our total expenditure to £547.61 (compared with £448 last year).

The interest on our National Savings Investment Account was a paltry £17 compared with £172 last year. The bulk of our income comes from generous public donations in the Observatory Fund Box, which totalled £397 this year, not as much as the £566 donated last year. The Ham & High. Festival earned us £216 (compared with £180 the previous year). Two organised visits to the Observatory brought in donations of £75 and £10. Doug and Simon also earned us £50 from Supercollider Magazine. Other items of income were two key deposits of £10 a donation of £5, and £23 from sales of HSS engraved pens. Our total income was £813.01, less than last year, but our expenditure was only £547.6.

Our Opening Balance was £7,404.94 and our Closing Balance was £7,670.34. In conclusion we managed to fund a very enjoyable centenary party while still increasing our bank balance, thanks to generous donations.

Philip Eden proposed the Astronomy Section accounts be accepted, Julie Atkinson seconded and the meeting agreed.

8. Meteorological Section Report

The Meteorological Section Secretary, Philip Eden, presented his report, summarised below. (An expanded account is on the web site.)

A Met Office inspector visited last November and gave us a clean bill of health, but equally important, he invited Hampstead into the Met Office's fully automated station network. This involved the installation of a fully independent electronic weather station, powered by sonar panel, which transmits data to the Met Office at Exeter every hour, on the hour. The installation took place in early March, and the station has been functioning soundly for most of the time since.

It is, of course, important to have a lengthy overlap period between the old AWS and the new AWS, so our own automatic station continues to function. And it is also important to have traditional thermometers and a traditional rain-gauge in place in case the electronic station fails, so the old instruments will remain.

Monthly reviews of Hampstead's weather have been posted on the section secretary's website, linked to from the Society's website, by the 4th of the following month, and the summaries extend back to the mid-1950s. The intention remains to extend the data online further and further back as and when time permits.

The Society has continued to supply data to Haycock Associates, and payments received from them enabled us to afford the service and maintenance visit for our own automatic weather station last November.

Just before Christmas, our weather station completed 100 years of recording, unbroken, save for one day during the Blitz in 1940, and 100 years of association with the Met Office. During that period there were three Honorary Meteorologists -- Eric Hawke from 1909 to 1965, Robert Tyssen-Gee from 1965 to 1983, and from 1983 onwards your humble correspondent. At the event in April Inspector Haynes and his boss, Chief Network Manager Tim Allott, presented us with a certificate and a uniquely designed paperweight in recognition of our centenary.

The Meteorological Section Secretary then briefly summarised the weather experienced during the last year.

SUMMER 2009 will long be remembered as the Met Office's "barbecue summer". Most of us will remember it as anything but, but the bad weather was confined to a four-week period between 7th July and 3rd August. June and August were warmer, drier and sunnier than average in London and the Southeast.

AUTUMN 2009 started well and finished badly. September was mostly fine with plentiful sunshine and above-average temperatures, although there was one day, the 15th, when London caught a torrential downpour which amounted to just over 50mm at Hampstead. October was fairly dry and mild too, though with less sunshine than usual. But November was unsettled and very wet throughout, notching up almost twice the normal amount of rain, making it the wettest November for seven years.

WINTER 2009-10 was the coldest for 31 years - since that of 1978-79 which some of you may remember as the "Winter of Discontent". December started where November left off - mild and rainy - but cold weather set in mid-month and we had several notable snowfalls between mid-December and mid-February. Snow lay in Hampstead on a total of 17 days, deepest on Jan 14th when it was 13cm deep.

SPRING 2010 brought a mixed bag. Early March was dry and cold, but the second half of the month was warm and changeable. April was very sunny with warm days and cold nights. 67mm of rain fell on May 1st-2nd, but the rest of May was dry, very cold at first, but warmer after mid-month.

Martin Williams asked whether the Met. station should measure wind, for instance using ultrasonic anemometers. Philip Eden said anemometers need to be at the standard 10m above the general environment, given no trees or buildings. For the Met. station site it might need to be at 18m above ground level, which might require planning permission. The Met. Office were not interested in local wind speed. Martin Williams suggested that it may still be of interest to the Society, and the Meteorological Secretary agreed, and should be considered at the next upgrade. David Brown commented that there were Thames Water pipes which extended upwards at the site, and though not 18m, were a potential site for anemometers. Philip Eden will have a look at them.

Peter Stern commented that the previous two months had been dry and Philip Eden agreed, though other parts of the country, e.g. Wales, had been drier. He suspected that the summer would not be dry.

Rothampstead had claimed there were only two winters colder than the December - February period. Philip Eden asked if they were 1985-86 as that was when equipment had changed and may have affected the continuity of records. December had been mild, which had brought up the average. The urban effect was more pronounced now.

The report was accepted by the meeting.

9. AOB

The Secretary reminded members that The Royal Society's Summer Science Exhibition would be taking place on 25th June - 4th July 2010 at the Clore Ballroom at Royal Festival Hall. Eric Morgan added that there were some Royal Society Science Walks with Mike Howgate later in July and in August.

The Secretary also announced that the British Science Association Festival of Science would be held in Aston, Birmingham in September 14-19.

Rob Grant suggested that the web site home page be brought more up to date. Martin Williams commented that it does come up very quickly, now, and would take longer with photographs. But most people have broadband these days. Julie Atkinson agreed that the site could be improved, but it was a matter of time to do it. Martin suggested that there could be a photo page separate from the home page, it should have items of scientific interest, and better access to what was on.

The President announced the conclusion of the AGM. There followed a Scientific Entertainment, which consisted of Identify the Object.

Julie Atkinson, Hon. Secretary, 020 7328 0874

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