2023 G. Bruce Blair Award
2023 G. Bruce Blair Award

2023 G. Bruce Blair Award

Gerald McKeegan

The Eastbay Astronomical Society nominates Gerald McKeegan for the 2023 G. Bruce Blair award.

EAS, in nominating Gerald, is doing so to honor a single individual who has contributed greatly to the
Astronomy mission of the Chabot Space and Science Center, and has done so to the same degree as
other Blair recipients who in past times fulfilled that same responsibility.

Gerald received his graduate degree in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota. Following
that academic pursuit, he built a career in aerospace. He worked on synthesizing highly reflective
materials used in protecting and cooling the Space Shuttle, the Space Station, the Cassini mission,
Gravity Probe B, SDO, MRO, Maven, Juno and others.

While building that career, Gerald always found the time to support amateur astronomy and public
education. For the past twenty three years, he has been a telescope operator at Chabot, and now leads
the all-volunteer observing deck team as its most experienced telescope operator as well as its most
accomplished manager since Conrad Jung had that job. Gerald has operated the Chabot telescopes on
nearly 2000 Friday and Saturday nights, providing free weekly telescope viewing to the general public.
For the last twenty years, Gerald has been on the board of the Eastbay Astronomical Society, including
serving as its treasurer. When EAS decided to revive the Zeiss Universarium Planetarium Projector,
Gerald stepped up as the Zeiss Operations Team leader, a role in which he continues to this very day.
It is no surprise that Gerald also participates in a wide variety of public outreach programs. Like many
Blair recipients, he has a passion for outreach, having participated over the years in hundreds of EAS
school, library, and scouting events. More recently, during the Covid lockdowns, he produced a weekly
Virtual Telescope program from Chabot, allowing the public to access live views through Nellie, the 36”
research reflecting telescope. Gerald also was a volunteer astronomer at Oakland Feather River Camp in
the Sierras.

Gerald also has become the “go to” person for astronomy related guest speaking in the Bay Area. Aside
from being the first person called by Bay Area news outlets whenever something “Astronomical” occurs,
Gerald also gives talks to the Rotary Club, the Senior Connections Club, and other venues where the
public comes to learn about science. His skill at explaining complex phenomena has led him to also
serve on the Chabot Space and Science Center’s Media Team. He is frequently interviewed by radio,
television and print media to provide commentary about significant astronomical or space science

Career, outreach, volunteering is only part of his picture. For the last 16 years, Gerald has led the
CSSC/EAS asteroid search program. Using the 36” reflector, he conducts three to four regular
observation sessions per month, searching for near-Earth asteroids, and submitting his observations to
the IAU’s Minor Planet Center. To date, he has submitted close to 3500 observations.

EAS has always taken it upon itself to keep Astronomy education the center-point of Chabot’s
programming and overall mission. Toward that purpose, Gerald has also served on the Chabot board
since 2008. Currently, Chabot’s board positions are by invitation only, and Gerald remains in that job at
the Director’s behest.

Gerald is just the most recent leader of a long line of deserving Chabot and greater Bay Area Volunteers.
In this case, we wish to honor an individual who has shown remarkable depth in his astronomical
knowledge, as well as a wide breadth of interests where that knowledge is applied.