Jim and Virginia Strogen
The Western Amateur Astronomers consortium (WAA) awards the G. Bruce Blair Medal annually. Nominations were accepted at the 2017 Winter Board of Directors meeting held Saturday, February 4, and the candidates were considered and voted on. The Medal is awarded to someone who has made a significant contribution to amateur astronomy. The G. Bruce Blair Medal has a history that runs back to 1954, is considered one of the most prestigious awards in amateur astronomy.
The Medal is usually awarded to an individual. But this year, in an exceptional decision, the G. Bruce Blair Medal has been awarded to the couple of Jim & Virginia Strogen. Both of them were active for many years in the Los Angeles Astronomical Society (LAAS), and at Mount Wilson Observatory (MWO). Jim served as President of LAAS for the year 2003-2004. Both Jim & Virginia were telescope operators at MWO for the 60-inch telescope, and Jim was an operator for the 100-inch telescope. They were both active with the LAAS for public outreach astronomy at the Garvey Ranch Observatory, in the city of Monterey Park of San Gabriel Valley, and at the more famous Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.
But perhaps their greatest achievement came when they moved to Sunrise Beach, on the shores of the Lake of the Ozarks, in Missouri. In 2007 they founded the Camden County Astronomy Association (CCAA), the first amateur astronomy club in that part of Missouri. Since then the CCAA has expanded greatly, with a reputation that spans the state of Missouri, and beyond.
In 2012 the Strogens purchased a 10-acre plot of land, and built two observatories: the Joseph P. Strogen Observatory in 2014, and the Clark & Susan VanScoyk Observatory in 2016. Today nearly 100 amateur astronomers attend CCAA meetings, and they are now building programs for public outreach, and science research astronomy at their observatory sites. When the total solar eclipse comes along in August 2017, the Strogens & CCAA astronomers will be on the steps of the State Capitol building in Jefferson City, Missouri, which is not far from the centerline of the eclipse.
Aside from their significant activity in Southern California, Jim & Virginia Strogen have created an astronomy oasis where there once was only a desert. And they have gone far beyond simply creating a new amateur astronomy club, but have rapidly grown the CCAA into one of the most significant centers for amateur astronomy in Missouri.