Minutes of Annual General Meeting held
via Zoom, on 10th December 2020.

Present: Simon Lang (President), plus 14 members (3 more appearing during item 1 and another during item 3).

1. Minutes of A.G.M 20th June 2019

The President asked for comments on the minutes of the previous AGM of 20th June 2019, and none were made. He proposed accepting the minutes of the previous AGM. The Secretary attempted to use the Zoom polling mechanism for the proposal, but failed. So it was agreed that members vote by a show of hands or appropriate Zoom symbols or Zoom chat depending on their available technology. The minutes were accepted with 12 votes for and none against.

The minutes were signed by the Secretary on behalf of the President as a correct record.

2. President’s Remarks

The President thanked all those who had helped in the background to keep proceedings running, particularly the Secretary. We had had to do everything by zoom, which made it complicated. He also thanked the Programme Secretary for persuading the speakers to talk to us online. And he welcomed Nick Maslov who had been co-opted to Council during the last year and was joining from University.

The President had set up WhatsApp groups for the observatory, mainly for staff training, as that couldn't be done at the observatory at present. Anyone from the society was welcome to join the WhatsApp groups and he gave his phone number to contact.

He thanked Julia Daniels for keeping eye on the observatory accounts. Of course this year saw a tremendous lack of income, but Thames Water had let us off some rental money and we would have to muddle through, for probably not too many more months. With any luck we would have the vaccines coming along. Re-opening by Easter would be highly optimistic but he hoped for some sort of normality to return by next summer and to aim to reopen the observatory next September and restart activities then, depending on how things go with Covid. We might have to review activities on rolling basis depending on how the vaccine rollout goes and whether or not Covid resurges in London, and this might lead to last minute cancellation. He hoped it wouldn't come to that.

Rumours of up to a third of the population not being confident in vaccines are alarming, given that we generally have good health due to the vaccines we all had when we were younger. The President felt we had a duty to remind anyone hesitant that we came across of this and persuade them otherwise.

3. Trustee’s Report

The Council's separate reports had been collated into a Trustees' Annual Report as recommended by the Charity Commission, and this year it had been distributed to members by post or email prior to the AGM. Individual reports would be presented separately and there would be a separate agenda item to formally accept the report. The General Secretary presented the main body of the Trustees' report.

Jim Brightwell asked what the risk of having to move the observatory was. The President clarified that we have no security of tenure with Thames Water, and they could evict us, though he felt it was very unlikely.

Martin Williams expanded on the plans for the weather station. If the Society is to publishes weather information it needs more professional equipment. Trevor Law had researched where best to purchase such kit and Martin Williams agreed with the recommendations. Publication of data could be by radio or 4G/5G mobile communication or both. A 4G/5G modem would cost, but could also be used for e.g. a card reader for donations, or for security, so could have wider uses. Since there is no access to the site until the summer, he was not intending to do further work until then, as the goalposts may move.

4. Treasurer’s Report

John Tennant presented the Treasurer's report as contained in Annex 1 of the Trustees' Report.

He noted that comparisons are somewhat invalid due to circumstances of the year. There were no comments on the report.

5. Election of Officers and Council

The Secretary announced that Council had elected Simon Lang as President at the Council meeting on 16th July 2020.

The Secretary said that Council had announced its nominations for officers in the September newsletter. As there were no further nominations, the following officers were declared as elected:

Hon. Secretary Julie Atkinson Hon. TreasurerJohn Tennant
Hon. Programme Secretary Jim Brightwell Hon. Membership SecretaryJohn Tennant

The constitution requires at least one ordinary Council member to resign at the AGM. The Secretary reported that in the 2019-20 session, Jonquil Florentin had resigned in September, having already served for just over a year, and suggested that this be counted as the required resignation. She thanked Jonquil for her service.

The following nominations were received for the 5 ordinary members of Council:

NomineeKevin DevineDavid BrandtAnne WatsonMartin WilliamsNick Maslov
Nominated byCouncilCouncilCouncilCouncilCouncil

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

6. Election of Independent Checkers

Leo McLaughlin and David Woolley had agreed to stand again.

Julie Atkinson proposed Leo McLaughlin and Dave Woolley as independent checkers, with John Tennant seconding. The meeting agreed with no votes against, and so the nominees were duly elected as independent checkers.

7. Astronomy Section Report

The Joint Astronomical Section Secretary, Simon Lang, presented his report, as contained in the Trustees' report at Annex 2.

Martin Williams noted that there was quite a lot of mechanical work to be done, and asked if that included slack gears on the telescope drive. Simon Lang said that was Jim Brightwell's area. Both agreed he had done a fantastic job. Although there is some backlash, when the electronics and handset are sorted out that should be overcome easily. Jim Brightwell pointed out that when the motor was solid on the mount backlash should be much less, but if wear appears on the meccano elements we may need to 3D print replacement parts. The Section Secretary said they are changing the drive system and may also include encoders etc. Simon Lang asked Jim Brightwell to liaise with Paul Clements. Jim Brightwell agreed.
Action AGM2020/1 Jim Brightwell to liaise with Paul Clements on the drive system.

James Hilder said that there was no restriction on work during Covid, so asked why could repairs not proceed. Simon Lang explained the issue is that he wanted to use a carpenter who would work at cost but who comes from Canterbury and needs somewhere to stay during the works. Martin Williams offered accommodation.

Kevin Devine asked whether there were plans to capture a time lapse view of sunset to sunrise at the observatory over the winter solstice. Jim Brightwell said he had such a video on YouTube under boywithadolphin, though not from the observatory. Simon Lang said a volunteer, Yunus Nas, was planning on doing live feeds from the observatory with Kevin McNulty to the Facebook page and possibly a youtube channel. Martin Williams pointed out that the Society needs some form of internet connection at the Observatory for several things that it intends to do. The weather data would not take much bandwidth, but images would, and one way around that would be to use 4G or 5G. The President said that at the moment it is being done using Yunus Nas' mobile. He will ensure Martin Williams is kept involved.
Action AGM2020/2 Simon Lang to ensure Martin Williams is involved in live feeds of video from the observatory.

The Joint Astronomical Section Secretary also thanked all the volunteers who had helped out at the observatory over the last year.

Astronomy Section Accounts

Julia Daniels, though present, was unable to read out her report to the meeting due to technology issues, and so John Tennant presented it on her behalf.

Simon Lang asked if the accounts had been independently checked, and John Tennant confirmed they had been checked and signed off by Leo McLaughlin at the same time as the main accounts.

8. Proposal for Archivist Officer

The Secretary explained that Council had decided to have an unofficial position of HSS Archivist, occupied by Julia Daniels for the last year, as they recognised that the Society had accumulated a large quantity of archives in the 120 years of its existence, some of which have been lost. Council felt it was most important that someone was responsible for periodically checking their whereabouts and ensuring that they were kept safely. We had an archivist in the 1960s called Daphne Gloag, but when she retired she was never replaced. Council felt it was worth making the post official, which would be a change to the constitution.

Therefore Council proposes the following amendment to the Constitution, para 5a Officers: Add 'the Honorary Archivist' after 'the Honorary Programme Secretary' in the current para:

The Officers shall be the President, not more than six Vice-Presidents, the Honorary Treasurer, the Honorary Secretary, the Honorary Membership Secretary, the Honorary Programme Secretary and the Honorary Secretaries of such Sections of the Society as shall be constituted under Bye-Law 6.

Martin Williams thought it a good idea but we pointed out that we also need to keep electronic records. We should make as much as possible available for members to enjoy, rather than be sitting in vault somewhere. Kevin Devine agreed that we should have electronic copies of all documents though no-one knows what the perfect storage medium is. We actually need both. The President pointed out that someone has to take the time to do the electronic copying. Martin Williams said that he had recently found the electronic copies of the Society yearbooks that he had scanned some time ago. The Secretary confirmed that she now had copies which she had been wondering how to put online. The President said that issue could be dealt with separately.

A vote was taken and the proposed accepted by 13 votes and none against.

Since the new post was agreed, the President proposed Julia Daniels as the honorary archivist, with Julie Atkinson seconding. A vote was taken and she was elected by 10 votes with none against.

9. AOB

David Brandt asked if a fire-proof safe at the observatory would be an option for archives. The President said that we don't keep document archives at the observatory. They are spread out between members of Council, but we can't insist that they each have fire-proof safes. Martin Williams said that the best way to keep them safe is to make sure that there are electronic copies and distribute them as much as possible.

Jim Brightwell suggested having a zoom meeting for the forthcoming eclipse in Argentina.

Kevin Devine mentioned the forthcoming Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. Although it is causing a lot of fuss, the President felt it was almost guaranteed not to be clear enough for us to see it, as it is very low down in the sky and close to the sun. You need to look for a SW low horizon, and if it were clear, you would be able to see them in a low power telescope for three days in a row. On the night of the 21st, they are only 6 arc minutes apart so you could look through a reasonably high power telescope to see Jupiter with its bands and moons plus Saturn with its rings and possibly Titan. James Hilder said the tropics would have a better aspect.

Jim Brightwell raised the issue of not being able to go to lectures physically to find speakers for the next session. Simon Lang suggested that we may be able to call on previous speakers.

The President announced the conclusion of the AGM, and there was a general chat rather than a scientific entertainment.

Julie Atkinson, Hon. Secretary, 0118 977 5192

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