Outreach / Star Parties / Solar Viewing

    SMA is a community of interested professional and amateur astronomers, exchanging ideas and information at meetings, through Google Groups and the Night Sky Network. As a member of the International Dark Sky Association and Dark Sky Maine, SMA is actively involved in fighting light pollution and preserving our dark Maine skies.
    SMA Club members provide advanced astronomical equipment and mentorship to members, students and the general public interested in astronomy. We also plan for star parties where naked eye, binocular, and telescope viewing take place with the support of trained volunteers.

    Also, SMA has partnered with "Cornerstones of Science" and the Library Telescope Program, recently changed to the STAR Program; Sharing Telescopes And Resources. We modify telescopes, provide assistance, hands-on training and mentoring for the staff at participating Libraries.
    SMA’s monthly meetings feature occasional lectures by experts in astronomy, "what's up" this month, discussions among members and member presentations.


    Due to COVID-19, all meetings will be by ZOOM, until further notice.

    Contact us for ZOOM details.

  • Upcoming Events

    Outreach and other public events

    You can also see our events calendar on the NASA's Night Sky Network!

    SMA Monthly Club Meeting (ZOOM Only)

    Thursday, Jun. 3, 2020, 7pm. Social "half-hour" starts at 6:30pm.

    Our speaker will be Dr. Catherine Zucker from the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics talking about the now-called Radcliffe Wave in a large ribbon of gaseous and dusty material in a star formation region in our Sun’s neighborhood. The discovery was reported just last year. This will be a fascinating talk by one of the lead scientists credited with this discovery. We will also have a “What’s Up” discussion in June skies. And other news.


    Doors open at 6:30, meeting begins at 7.

    Please use the "Contact Us" form or join our Google Group for the Zoom link, if you don't have it!

    SMA Monthly Club Meeting (ZOOM Only)

    Thursday, May 6, 2021, 8pm. Social "half-hour" starts at 7:30pm.

    I wanted to get our next club meeting on your calendars and with a new time­ for this meeting only – 8 p.m. Our meeting will feature a preview of our Electronically-Assisted Astronomy (EAA) project, combining a “What’s Up for May” with live images being taken of a few deep sky objects. As you’ll recall, the Club was recently awarded a grant from the Bangor Savings Bank Foundation to develop its own EAA project as a way to conduct star parties in a COVID world. The plan is to combine laser-pointer tours to star party guests, socially distanced, with real time deep sky images being captured by the equipment the grant enabled us to buy – a refractor, camera, mount – projected onto a screen for all to see with our narration of what is being shown.


    At the zoom club meeting in May we will attempt a dry run of the image capturing side of the star party. We will tie in to Ara Jerahian’s observatory where Ara will capture and share several images over the course of the meeting to show what we plan to do in actual star parties. Because of later sunset we are moving the start date of this meeting to 8 p.m. Now, just pray for clear skies! Ara will also give us more of a cook’s tour of the process, explaining all the steps he is taking to capture the images. In lieu of an actual laser pointer tour Russ Pinizzotto will narrate a tour of “What’s Up in May.” Departing from his popular tours of individual constellations, Russ will provide a tour of interesting things to see high in an early May sky.


    We are all the guinea pigs for this process. When we conclude, we’d like to debrief and get your feedback as observers of what worked, what didn’t, where the rough edges were in the presentation, and other ideas you may have to improve the experience.


    Please mark this on your calendars for 8 p.m., May 6.

    SMA Monthly Club Meeting (ZOOM Only)

    Thursday, Apr. 1, 2021, 7 p.m. Social "half-hour" starts at 6:30pm.

    We have a great meeting lined up for April 1. Don’t be a fool, attend our meeting! Our guest speaker will be Prof. Chris Magri, Assistant Professor of Physics and Chair of the Natural Sciences Department at the University of Maine at Farmington. Prof. Magri is a radio astronomer who concentrates on asteroids. The topic for his talk is “A Radar Analysis of Asteroid Bennu.” This is especially timely considering that Bennu was recently explored by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission that grabbed samples from the asteroid’s surface and is returning them to Earth. The capsule containing materials is set to arrive in late September 2023.


    Prof. Magri also spent considerable time in his career observing from the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. The facility recently had a catastrophic failure in its infrastructure rendering the telescope unsalvageable. It will be instructive to hear Prof. Magri’s assessment of radio astronomy without Arecibo and what might be being planned for its replacement.


    Prof. Magri spoke to SMA several years ago about Asteroid Apophis and its potential as a threat to Earth. Apophis is back in the news this week with updated telemetry and a determination that the threat has abated – at least for the next century.


    Prof. Magri obtained his undergraduate degree at the University of Virginia and his MS and Ph.D. in Physics from Cornell University. Known for his animated and humorous style, you’ll want to attend Prof. Magri’s talk.


    The meeting will also feature short topics and member input. Russ Pinizzotto will then take us on another exciting tour – get your combs ready – of the constellation Coma Berenices – or Berenice’s hair. The meeting will conclude with the Annual Meeting of Members and the Annual Meeting of Directors in which we will elect two new directors to the Board, and the Board will elect club Officers. These are legally required meetings and we therefore ask members to stay tuned in so we can have good input and also meet our quorum requirements.

    The meeting starts officially at 7 p.m. with Prof. Magri’s talk. Doors open at 6:30 for socializing. The link was sent out to our Google Group. Please attend if you can and we look forward to seeing you.

    Past Events & Speakers

    • 2021/03 - Dr. Neil Comins, Professor of Physics & Astronomy at Univ. of Maine, Orono, "Heavenly Errors: Misconceptions About the Real Nature of the Universe."
    • 2021/02 - Chuck Allen, Vice President of the Astronomical League
    • 2021/01 - Telescope Workshop
    • 2020/12 - Dr. Aileen Yingst, Planetary Science Institute, “Big News from a Dwarf Planet: The Story of Vesta”
    • 2020/11 - Sarah Betti, Ph.D. candidate, UMass, “Planet Formation in Protoplanetary Discs”2
    • 2020/10 - Tom Field, President, Field Tested Systems, LLC “You Can Almost Touch the Stars” – Spectroscopy for Amateur Astronomers
    • 2020/09 - Dr. Jack Gelfand, club member – building a backyard device to measure the temperature of the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation
    • 2020/08 - Member Short Presentations: reprise of Birr Castle telescope; The Perseids; Voyager update
    • 2020/07 - Dr. Ryan Hickox, Dartmouth College – “Light from the Void: the Next Generation of Space-based Telescopes”
    • 2020/06 - Ralph Pass, former mathematician at NASA – Apollo Mission reminiscences
    • 2020/05 - Ara Jerahian, club member – Introduction to Astrophotography
    • 2020/04 - Dr. Russ Pinizzotto, club member – What to See in Ursa Major
    • 2020/03 - Dr. Russ Pinizzotto, club member – The Color of Stars
  • Membership

    Support your local club and become a member of Southern Maine Astronomers!

    Annual Membership Fee

    Annual Membership Fee

    10.00 - 1,000.00
    SMA annual membership fee. This includes a membership to the Night Sky Network and a membership to the Astronomical League, which entitles you to receive the quarterly Reflector magazine.

    All memberships are annual and aligned with the calendar year, not to the time of purchase.
    Buy now
  • Wish to donate to SMA?

    Your donation will go to support the club including our outreach and educational efforts in the communities we serve.

  • Committees

    We've got a top notch team! While each of these committees is staffed by Club Directors, any member can join and assist these committees in their club objectives. We welcome participation! Support your Club!


    This committee is focused on increasing membership and improving member experience.

    Purview includes club meetings, greeting members and guests, following up with new people, providing refreshments. It will be the point of contact for club clothing and such. This committee will coordinate with the Program Committee to ensure we are offering speakers and topics that square with the needs and desires of members. It will also liaise with other clubs, including student organizations, and encourage developments between clubs.


    Director Member: Al DiSabatino, Bob Dodge


    Acting as the point of contact for the public, for things like star parties, speakers, etc., and for coordinating the club’s response.

    This committee responds to groups looking for star parties and such events; would determine if it’s a request the club can accommodate; would organize club members willing to attend/staff the event. This committee also provides formal notice to news organizations and public bulletin boards and other third parties of club meetings and events.


    Director Member: James Shields, Ara Jerahian

    Club Member: Ron Thompson


    Planning for meetings, finding speakers, coordinating publicity.

    This Committee seeks speakers in contemporary topics of astronomy and space exploration that are of interest to the membership. The Committee ensures other engaging content to appeal to beginners as well as seasoned amateurs to improve their knowledge of the night sky, telescope equipment, observing techniques and astrophotography.


    Director Member: George Bokinsky, Rowan Goebel-Bain, Russ Pinizzotto


    Managing club equipment, purchased and donated, to fulfill the club's outreach and educational mission.

    Club assets include purchased and donated equipment. This committee determines what best suits club needs and then seeks to sell or otherwise dispose of excess equipment with funds received used to support the club. This committee also manages the Club's Equipment Lending Program that makes more sophisticated equipment available to club members for use.


    Director Member: Forrest Sumner, Kerry Kertes

    Club Member: Ron Thompson

    Dark Sky Advocacy

    Liaising with Dark Sky Maine, IDA, and other groups interested in controlling light pollution.

    Advocating for dark sky-friendly zoning and other regulations to control and reduce light pollution. This Committee hope to develop a recognition program for organizations and municipalities who undertake improvements in light pollution control.


    Director Member: Rob Burgess

    Club Member: Paul Howell


    This Committee is responsible for administration of club finances.

    Responsibilities include management and reconcilement of club finances and bank statements, tax filings, club insurances, etc. Recently, the club decided to undertake fundraising. This new venture will examine club short and long term goals and then find sources and develop strategies to support those goals, including the establishment of an endowment fund.


    Treasurer & Chair: Bob Dodge

    Fundraising Subcommittee: Rob Burgess, Bob Dodge, Russ Pinizzotto

    Executive Committe

    Director Members: Rob Burgess, Bob Dodge, Forrest Sumner, Ara Jerahian

  • Drop Us A Note

    Don't be afraid to reach out. You + us = awesome.


    You can also join our Google Groups mailing list and
    stay super informed of our club activity :)

    179 Neptune Drive, Suite 300
    Brunswick, ME 04011
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