Saturday, October 27, 2012

Jane Rigby's talk about Frank Kameny

I just found that Jane Rigby's talk at Goddard about Frank Kameny is available on YouTube.  Really worth listening to, featuring lots of artefacts from the Kameny Papers at the Library of Congress.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

(40463) Frankkameny = 1999 RE44

It's official:  Frank Kameny has been immortalized with an asteroid name.  Doc Kinne had an important role in this, and writes about how it happend on his blog.

You can see the official listing at the Minor Planet Center here.

The full citation in Minor Planets Circular 79911 reads:

(40463) Frankkameny = 1999 RE44

Discovered 1999 Sept. 15 by G. W. Billings at Calgary.

Frank L. Kameny (1925–2011) trained as a variable star astronomer in the 1950s, but joined the Civil Rights struggle. His contributions included removing homosexuality from being termed a mental disorder in 1973 and shepherding passage of the District of Columbia marriage equality law in 2009.
The AP has an article out today on the topic, which has been picked up widely.

The orbital elements of (40463) Frankkameny are:

ω: 30.53112 degrees
Ω : 303.00744 degrees
i: 2.45353 degrees
e: 0.1807671
a: 2.7788741 AU
M: 316.98943 degrees (epoch 30 Sep 2012 (midnight UT, presumably))

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thursday, January 19, 2012

AAS Press Release

The AAS press release is now available.

Kameny Poster

Here is a copy of a historical abstract describing Dr. Kameny's astronomy career from the Austin meeting.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How it happened

I want to thank everyone who made the recognition happen, and make sure credit lies where it is due.  It's clear that the event was well received.  AAS President Debbie Elmegreen told me that she received numerous complements after the ceremony.

From my perspective, this was a lot like pushing a big rock downhill -- the initial "grassroots" push took a lot of work (emails, Facebook page, blog, drafting documents...), but once the letters of support started flooding in it was clear that there was support on the Council and among influential people in the AAS, especially members of the nascent LGBTIQ working group, and the effort took on a life of its own.

I wasn't privy to the discussion within the Council, but I have gathered that while there was some resistance to the award, the overwhelming sentiment that this was the right thing to do led to a unanimous decision for the special recognition last Tuesday.  In particular, Pat Knezek and Nick Suntzeff offered early support for the effort and drafted the language for the award, Ed Guinan was my liaison to the Council and helped me navigate the politics and bureaucracy nimbly, and AAS President Debra Elmegreen was supportive of the decision and getting Charles Francis in town to accept the award.

Anecdotally, there has apparently been a sea change in the last couple of years in the Council's attitude toward these issues;  it's possible that if this effort had started some years earlier, it would have stalled.  So, thanks to those who voted for our current Council members; and for the rest of us:  our votes clearly matter, so don't neglect AAS elections!

I also wasn't privy to all of the forms of pressure on the Council or the organization of the ceremony itself, but it is clear to me that members of the new Working Group on LGBTIQ Equality were instrumental in making this effort so successful.  In particular, I had many fruitful interactions with Van Dixon, who worked hard on this, and Jane Rigby contributed to the announcement and certificate text.

Finally, it's very important to recognize the "tail wind" that we were working with: everyone who sent in a letter, and everyone who spread the word and helped make the nomination go "viral."  Gina Brissenden helped a lot here with her Rolodex, and Kelle Cruz helped me figure out the whole "FaceBook" thing.

President Elmegreen told me that she thought the number of letters of support for this effort was greater than for any other nomination the Council had ever seen.  So thanks to everyone who sent in a letter of support, which made this not so much a nomination but a mandate.

Next up:  a new AAS prize!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Text of Charles Francis's Remarks

The text of the awards ceremony is here.

I should add that during the applause following President Elmegreen's remarks, many people in the audience were on their feet.  It was a very touching moment.


Today at the awards ceremony at the Austin AAS meeting, Charles Francis of the Kameny Papers project accepted a certificate of recognition from the president of the AAS honoring Dr. Kameny's efforts.

It was a touching ceremony.  Mr. Francis described Dr. Kameny's early interest in astronomy, and presented a copy of a field guide to astronomy from Dr. Kameny's personal collection to the newly formed LGBTIQ working group of the AAS.  He spoke of it as Dr. Kameny's "rosebud", a childhood symbol of a dream denied.  Dr. Jane Rigby also made a few remarks, and brought Dr. Kameny's thesis.  She read from the acknowledgements some of the more prominent names (Payne-Gaposchkin, Abt, Arp, Blaco...)

I'll post a copy of Mr. Francis's remarks if I can.  My understanding is that the press office is working on this, too.

I tried to make a video of President Elmegreen's presentation;  I missed the first few seconds: