The Western Amateur Astronomers organization is proud to present Nathan McKenna with this year’s G. Bruce Blair award for meritorious conduct above and beyond the ordinary in promoting amateur astronomy to the public. Each year, the WAA’s member clubs find an individual who is a game-changer in their capacity as a volunteer, and Nate certainly fits that profile.
His most recent and wildly successful endeavor was taking the initiative to raise the funds to assess and repair the Chabot Space and Science Center’s $3M Zeiss Mark VIII planetarium projector. This projector is one of four similar state of the art planetariums in the United States (the other three being at Griffith, Haydn, and St. Louis), and was the only one sitting sadly idle for the last ten years.
The projector is now completely restored and usable, almost like it was new. Nate is also passionate about outreach. He has acted as liaison at numerous community events involving the Eastbay Astronomical Society and Chabot Space and Science Center, including Random Acts of Science, where the Oakland Fire Department, Chabot and EAS would show up at schools for science and astronomy presentations; worked with the Bay Area Scouts Council to bring about the first STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) Encampment at the Alameda County Fairgrounds; coordinated multiple outreach events for the Otsukimi Japanese Moon Viewing Festival in Oakland; coordinated outreach events on the Google campus in Mountain View to celebrate Google’s donation to the Lick Observatory; and coordinated Earth Day outreach events for Qualcomm.
These are just some of the events that he has either spearheaded or helped coordinate. His home club, The Eastbay Astronomical Society, is deeply grateful for his efforts – he’s made a real difference.