The very word ‘society’ implies a social connection between its members. We meet up for lectures, outreach and observing or astro-chats with friends over coffee & biscuits at home or a drink & crisps in the pub. The virus has put strict limits on most of those activities:
- Group meetings for lectures are impractical for most societies (even if the venue is still available) and, where it can be safely achieved, there are severe constraints on numbers and sociability during the meeting.
- Public outreach activities, especially those involving young children, are very risky. Recall the advice to not touch your face to avoid spreading the virus and then consider both potential risks of transferring the virus from the moist areas around the eyes or condensing virus-laden breath on to an eyepiece and then passing that virus to someone else via contact with the eyepiece. In consequence, viewing should be limited to use of webcams and display on a laptop screen.
- Group observing by your members can be done with full adherence to social distancing and thorough sanitisation of any shared equipment (but don’t share eyepieces).
- Permitted ‘social bubbles’ aside, meeting in each other’s homes is risky unless you know your host’s self-protection regime well and can judge the risk to yourself and meeting in pubs should only be done where you can see they’ve taken all reasonable precautions to guard against their customers transmitting the infection and is enforcing distancing.
Dr Paul Daniels FAS President (Aug 2020)