THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS has been hitting the conference and function sectors hard, with events being cancelled left, right and centre due to travel and gathering restrictions and general health concerns.

Unfortunately that includes this year’s National Australian Convention of Amateur Astronomers (NACAA), the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand’s (RASNZ) annual conference, and the South Pacific Star Party.

NACAA 2020 was due to take place in Parkes, NSW, over the Easter long weekend, but the organisers have announced that, “Due to the unprecedented situation with the COVID-19 virus, the NACAA Inc Committee has decided, with due consideration to the safety of all concerned, that the 2020 NACAA at Parkes is cancelled.”

“All registration fees will be refunded in full… The committee is considering where and when the next NACAA will be held; this will be announced in due course.”

NACAA is held every two years in a different Australian city or town, usually hosted by the local astronomical society (or sometimes multiple societies).

The RASNZ, celebrating its 100th year, has postponed its annual conference as well as the Dark Skies workshop. In a statement, the society’s Council said that “Our society has a responsibility to manage its affairs in light of current Government policy and prevailing health advice regarding novel coronavirus COVID-19. We do not want to expose our members or guests to any unnecessary risk of infection. Council is working with our venue provider and guest speakers to find an optimal alternative date, in the final quarter of 2020.”

The Astronomical Society of NSW’s South Pacific Star Party has been cancelled for this year. The organising committee said that “Since 1993 we have held the Star Party through rain, sleet, snow and some unbelievable clear night skies. In light of the COVID-19 situation, the committee of the ASNSW Inc has cancelled this event for the safety of all our astronomy friends.”

We can only imagine the disappointment felt by the organisers — who have spent a lot of time preparing for the events — and also the sadness of the prospective attendees, many of whom had prepared presentations.

We wish the event organisers all the best in resolving the problem. We’ll post updates when they become available.

This story was updated on March 28 to include details of the South Pacific Star Party’s cancellation.

Image: A. Duro/ESO