I would like to share some important and exciting news with you. MBO is piloting a diversity toolkit from the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE). This toolkit is a comprehensive resource guide about actively promoting and developing a framework for diversity and inclusion. Although aimed at small and medium science and technology businesses, there is a wealth of information applicable to MBO. There are useful templates about developing diversity, inclusion and discrimination and harassment policies. There are suggestions for fostering a positive culture, increasing accessibility and leading by example. The toolkit has resources on developing a reconciliation action plan, mentoring and establishing a complaints process. ATSE was keen for MBO to pilot the diversity toolkit. We will provide valuable feedback as a volunteer lead organisation. ATSE will also assist MBO to implement diverse and accessible policies and strategies. This toolkit and the assistance ATSE is going to provide will be a huge asset to MBO. Having a diverse and inclusive workplace is linked to increased productivity and performance, engagement and retention. As a committee member, I am very pleased to see the latest new members list. I am sure the new members represents a diverse range of backgrounds. MBO’s culture is to welcome all people, no matter what your background, gender identity or sexual orientation is. I believe that MBO can truly lead the way at being the most diverse and welcoming astronomical society in Australia. I look forward to meeting the new members either in person or online. If you want to get involved in implementing the ATSE toolkit, please contact me at email@example.com or join the discussion below. Saskia Hunter, committee member
We are often asked at the observatory to find stars “purchased” by members of the public in memory of a departed loved one. Over the years we have helped many families find their stars. Our volunteers always make the evenings memorable and the evenings never fail to be poignant but they could be so much more meaningful. Let me explain. I won’t dwell on the purchase itself itself except to say two things. Firstly, anybody can set up a company to “sell” a star name but really all you are buying is the right to put yourself in a private company’s database somewhere. For what it is worth a star’s official names are given to it by the International Astronomical Union and they don’t sell the naming rights. Secondly, the stars that do make their way into these catalogues for purchase are inevitably very faint and invisible to the naked eye. Sometimes the coordinates associated with the stars are out of date or inaccurate to the point where it is hard to identify which star it actually is. I want to propose an alternative that would provide grieving families with a connection to the night sky that they can renew every time they walk outside at night.In short, connect the event with the whole sky. Rather than trying to find an invisible star, look at what is easily visible (the brightest stars and the constellations). By doing that we will be carrying on a tradition thousands of years old, and bringing the night sky back in to the lives of the people remembering. With planetarium programs we can recreate the night sky at any location on earth at any given time. You can find which bright stars were prominent in the sky, which constellations were highest and which planets were visible. That combination won’t recur every year thanks to the wanderings of the planets but each facet of the night sky provides some connection that you can make quietly on your own. You will have added your family’s story to the many human stories that mark their chapters in the sky. The stars and planets don’t predict your story, but they can help it to be retold and remembered.
MBO was honoured to have the first PhD student to graduate from the observatory back when Monash University ran it, Dr Len Halprin, come back and pay a visit – with his current students from Sandringham College. “It’s like coming full circle,” he commented. He graduated around the time the old wooden 16″ telescope was changed over to the current 18″ metal-tubed one that now sits in the big Monash dome in the mid 1980’s, so he is not familiar with that telescope, but he was able to tell us lots about the early days of the the observatory, and about using the old photometer he used to do his work (which he can be seen holding in the photo), and how they set things up. He was also pleased to see the new concrete pathways we have installed, no more sloshing through the mud in winter! Thanks for the visit and all the information, Len. We plan to feature the photometer in a museum display of old equipment in the lower half of the dome in the near future.
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