Hello everyone and happy May.
I write this with a heavy heart as this is my final message as president of the Amateur Astronomers Association.
It is difficult to believe that three years have not only passed, but that those three years occurred during a pandemic. We then had to figure out how to emerge from that calamity. I believe though that AAA did just that and did it with aplomb! Much like Steve Austin, we are better and stronger than ever before. And I would like to extend a huge thank you to the Executive Committee, Board, and hundreds of members and volunteers who have allowed this to happen.
As AAA nears its 100th anniversary, we are about to establish the first ever public observatory in New York. Our lecture series is going strong. Our classes are as robust as always. Our astrophotography group continues to produce spectacular images. Our observing schedule covers more of New York City than ever before. Our school outreach expands the minds of students city-wide. Our podcast provides great interviews. The technology that powers all that we do is light years beyond what it was just a few short years ago. Our finances are on sturdy ground. And so much more.
And again, none of this would be possible without the extraordinary effort of all of those who have volunteered their time.
On a personal note, to have been elected president of this magnificent organization has been a dream come true for me. A science-based non-profit organization whose singular goal is to educate and fill minds with wonder and fascination of the ‘final frontier’, is as lofty a goal as there is. And to have been given the opportunity to lead such an organization is something that I will always have profound thanks for.
I took the liberty in September of last year, in this very column, to use it as a bully pulpit and take a stand. https://aaa.org/2022/09/01/message-from-aaas-president-10/
While this may have been controversial I have absolutely no misgivings about it. I am a firm believer that if you have a voice, and you have a point to make, and you are not intentionally trying to harm anyone, and (perhaps more importantly) you know the facts of all sides of the issue, then let ‘er rip. And indeed, that is what I did. I consider that, by far, to be my most important contribution to AAA.
We all know that the world is in flux, and we are all troubled by the newest bad news that the media presents to us, but we also know how to fix this… through science, facts, outreach, kindness, and contributing. We are all capable of these things and now is not the time to be shy about them.
There have been countless examples of this throughout human history, including just within the last century… The next time someone says to you that they need a hero to look up to, remind them of the contributions Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin, made to humanity. The next time someone says to you that something cannot be done, remind them of the contributions of Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci, inventors of mRNA vaccine. The next time someone says to you that life is unfair, remind them that Mae Jemison, the first African American woman in space, would not take no for an answer.
Sports and celebrity are fun and distracting, but I will put my money on those who are advancing our species, as well as the universe in which we live.
With all of that said, thank you to everyone who has made the last three years a wonderful, fulfilling, and downright heavenly experience.
I offer my assistance, as well as my good wishes, to those who succeed me. I also sincerely hope that more of you reading this become involved in this important, and eminent association.
Thank you again for the last three years, and I look forward to all that AAA will accomplish going forward.
Brian Berg, President