The Billion Year Plan
A Vision for RAS's First Billion Years
21 February 2000
A note on units: All dates in this document are given using the Gregorian calendar of Earth (Sol 3). One day in the Gregorian calendar corresponds to one solar day on Earth. One year corresponds approximately to one revolution of Earth about the sun. The days of the year are divided into twelve months, based roughly upon the revolution of the Moon about the Earth. These twelve months are January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December. September, April, June and November contains 30 days; all the rest, except for February, contain 31 days. February contains 29 days if the year is divisible by four and not by 100, or if it is divisible also by 400; otherwise, February contains 28 days. The days of the year are also divided into seasons, based upon the extrema of Earth's orbit about the sun. Winter begins on the day with the shortest period of light and the longest period of darkness, the winter solstice, and continues to the vernal equinox, at which light and darkness attain equal length. The next season is spring, which stretches until the summer solstice, when the period of light is longest. The third season is summer, which lasts from the summer solstice to the autumnal equinox; and the remaining season is autumn. All seasons mentioned in this document are in fact academic quarters at the University of Chicago, which approximate northern hemisphere seasons.
22 April is Earth Day. Some day close to Earth Day, University organizations traditionally hold an Earth Day fair. The Society should consider staffing a table that provides information about light pollution, as well as the terraforming of Mars and the long term fate of Earth and the Solar System.
The Ryerson Astronomical Society owns a small library worth of books. Among our historically-important books we count our log books, which date back to 1952 and include entries by such famous scientists as Carl Sagan, and a relativity text once owned by U of C Nobel Laureate Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar We do not have sufficient shelf space to house all our books, however. For this reason, RAS should procure a new bookshelf in Spring 2000.
Due to the effects of the lake and Chicago's air pollution, weather reports from the National Weather Service and companies such as AccuWeather often fail to convey important information about observation conditions in Hyde Park. An electronic weather station would allow the Society to monitor weather conditions in the Hyde Park area and make better plans for observations.
One of the most inexpensive and commonly used amateur weather stations is the Oregon Scientific WM-918, which lists for $399. A wide range of free add-on software, writing by amateur weather watchers, is available for this station. One such package would allow the Society to make information about Hyde Park weather conditions available to Society members and the University commuity through the World Wide Web.
The Central Atlantic Storm Investigators recommend the purchase of the WM-918 from Heartland America, which sells it for $199 plus $20 shipping.
The RAS office currently lacks climate control. This has the potential to damage our library. In addition, in order to maintain a comfortable temperature during the winter, we must open the crawl space in order to let heat from lower floors rise into the office. This, however, exposes the office to particles of fiber glass, which pose a hazard to human health.
When Building Services removed a skylight from the RAS office a couple of years ago, not realizing that the office was occupied, they promised to compensate us by helping us improve the state of the office. It is time for us to call upon their assistance.
The furniture within the RAS office is in a horrible state of repair. The Society should replace the chairs in the office with ones that are not falling apart and consider replacing the office rug as well.