What does the Royal Astronomical Society do and what are the benefits of joining?
The RASNZ Annual Report is a good place to get a full summary of what the Society does.
Members receive 11 monthly e-mails and 4 issues of the Southern Stars which members may download from the member's area of the website.
Whilst an individual member may benefit from only some of the following, your support of the Society will enable it to remain viable so it can continue to provide services at a national level without which astronomy in New Zealand would be so much the poorer.
The Society's premier event each year is the Annual RASNZ Conference, this provides a valuable opportunity to showcase the latest research by our professional astronomers alongside presentations on a wide variety of topics.
The Society's web-site is a valuable resource for astronomical information, given that it gets nearly 250,000 visits per year it would appear that it is very popular. The web-site has recently had a major upgrade and now provides special areas for members use and areas to facilitate the running of the society and its various activities.
The society's member body status with the Royal Society provides the opportunity as required to comment on astronomical related matters at both the government level and internationally through the International Astronomical Union.
RASNZ is fortunate to have access to the Kingdon-Tomlinson Bequest. Through this, many individual and societies have benefited from grants made to assist with equipment purchases and projects that promote astronomy in NZ.
We also have two lectureship schemes. The Gifford-Eiby covers travel expenses for speakers to travel within NZ to present a lecture or run a workshop to a society or group of members. A more recent initiative is the RASNZ Lecture Trust which enables an international astronomer to be brought to NZ to deliver a number of Beatrice-Tinsley Lectures.
We encourage our affiliated societies to take advantage of the services we offer as a way of providing additional resources/opportunities to benefit their members. For example, during 2012 the society sourced and distributed safe solar viewers for unaided viewing of the Transit of Venus and a partial eclipse of the Sun.
The Society has a number of sections (Variable Stars, Occultations, Comet & Meteors, Aurora & Solar, Astrophotography) that support and encourage their members' observational endeavours and interests.
In addition there are three groups that promote other initiatives. The Professional Astronomers' Group attends to the needs of the professional community within NZ. Indeed one of the special strengths of the RASNZ is its strong relationship with our professional astronomers. The Education Group is developing plans to increase an awareness of astronomy within both the educational and public arenas. The Dark Sky Group is working hard to promote the benefits of minimising light pollution and preserving our wonderful night skies. RASNZ is providing support to the initiative to have a Starlight Reserve designated in the Tekapo area and also for the International Starlight Conference being held there in June of this year.
I hope that this summary gives some idea of what a member "gets" in return for their subscription. Just as the advertisement for a certain card says, some of these benefits are priceless.