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Board Meeting Minutes, April 19th 2023

· Board Minutes

SMA Directors’ Meeting Minutes


April 19, 2023

Via Zoom

7:00 pm



In attendance: Directors Al DiSabatino, Carson Hanrahan, Bob Dodge, Kerry Kertes, Russ Pinizzotto, Kevin Kane and Rob Burgess and member Jeremy Wright.  A quorum was present.


The minutes of the March 15, 2023 meeting were approved.  



Follow-Up on Action Items and Committee Reports: 


Program Committee:  Russ 

  • Follow up ACTION ITEM: After general discussion it was agreed that our website should have a section for basic advice on buying telescopes and binoculars.  It was further agreed that we would provide links to existing reliable-source information on other websites about these decisions rather than re-invent the wheel.  Kevin and Carson offered to spearhead this effort.
  • May – Dr. Libby Bischoff of the Osher Map Library at USM addressing ancient celestial maps.  After an original commitment Russ reported that Maame has been unable to get a confirmatory response from Dr. Bischoff but will keep trying.
  • June – Russ is still trying to confirm a presentation by the Haystack Observatory for radio astronomy, run by MIT, in Westford, MA
  • July – Greg Shanos will discuss eclipse observing and photographing preparation and techniques
  • August – Dr. Heidi DeBlock on the physiological rigors of long space flight
  • September – TBD
  • October – TBD
  • November – TBD
  • December – TBD


Outreach Committee:  Kerry & Carson

There was extensive discussion of the upcoming star party season.  The schedule below was confirmed



March 25 7-9pm – cancelled due to snow


April 22 7-9 – home schooler group (perhaps 20?) expected to attend


May 20 8-10




June          Family Fun day - Cape Elizabeth  - likely to be June 17

July                TBD – it was suggested to look to a brew pub with outside seating as a good venue for some solar observing.  Bob has connections with Maine Beer Company in Freeport that has a great venue.  We agreed to find a venue other than in Brunswick to diversify the location of our events.



August 13     8-10pm – joint Perseid Event with Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust

Sept 16     7-9

October 21   7-9

November 18   7-9


It was agreed to add a full-season list of scheduled outreach events, rather than just showcasing the next event.  Kevin offered to update our webpage.


Kerry and Carson reported that the volunteer sign up form on our site had garnered volunteers but we need to continue to promote that as we seek volunteers for future events.  The Committee also discussed points reviewed at the February meeting, including:

  • Having a Leader for each program
  • Having one laser-pointer operator
  • Having one speaker who would offer his/her talk twice in the evening to spread out attendees (due to room size and  to accommodate late arrivers)
  • To carefully limit the running time of each talk to about 20 minutes
  • To track volunteer hours to qualify for the AL Outreach pin
  • To get a core amount of club equipment checked out and fully operational and to develop cheat sheets for each item to enable more volunteers to jump in and operate the equipment
  • To develop a list of items to be observed, with factual annotations to help explain objects being shown
  • To print off current month SkyMaps to give out to attendees and to incorporate them into the laser pointer tour and outside observing. (We decided to start with 40 copies and increase the number if needed.)
  • Refreshments would be determined on an event-by-event basis if a volunteer could be found to procure snacks and drinks
  • Howie will procure red LED lights/”rope” for lighting stairs to rear of building


Kerry reported he is following up with all organizations that have requested SMA star parties to get more details to determine if they are something we can accommodate.  Carried-over ACTION ITEM: report at next meeting on discussions and commitments.  Priority should be given to organizations in other communities than Brunswick to diversify our event locations.    Directors were asked to look for such opportunities.


Kerry reported that he has received a good response to his request for pictures for our running slide show project.  He cannot use pictures showing the faces of school children, however.  The Scarborough High sophomore is well engaged in the project that will be completed before the spring semester ends so that our program can be ready for the fall with other schools, community TV, etc.


2024 Total Eclipse – Rob raised for discussion the establishment of a subcommittee to thee Outreach Committee to prepare for April 8, 2024.  There was discussion about doing something in the Portland area (97% eclipsed) and also organizing a field trip to good observing sites in totality.  The Eclipse Subcommittee would deal with such logistics, obtaining permissions to use sites, determining the number of eclipse glasses to order, starting to work with local media so we are a go-to source and trusted advisor, etc.  Rob also noted that the Astronomical Society of the Pacific is sponsoring a program called “Eclipse Ambassadors off the Path” to help with programs for all those observers not in totality.  Rob recommended we participate.


Follow-Up ACTION ITEM:  Rob will follow up with Shay Bellas of Navitour on her program on providing outdoor experiences with persons with disabilities to see if it can fit into our programs


Dark Sky Committee:  Rob, Howie, Jeremy Wright and Paul Howell

  • Russ suggested an observing site (Hermit Island) for Howie’s project on developing observing sites within our footprint area.  He was encouraged to follow up with Howie.  Rob reported based on discussions with Howie that he was up to about six suggested sites.  Directors and club members were encouraged to suggest more. 
  • Rob reported on the light display that Russell Clark and family put together in Bath to help the community evaluate choices for new streetlights.  This display of four lights demonstrates lights running from 2200K to 4000K with various lens filters.  Russell is working with the City to possibly relocate this display to a place more visible to Bath citizens.
  • Rob reported on a Dark Sky Maine meeting that he attended (as did Dwight) on 3/17/23.  An Action Plan for DSM to move beyond simply educating about the problem of light pollution to a role of organizing among astronomy clubs in Maine was given short shrift on the agenda due to time but will be discussed at the next DSM meeting. 
  • Rob prepared a gubernatorial proclamation about International Dark Sky Week was submitted to Rep Osher to submit to the Governor for consideration.  As initially enthusiastic as Rep Osher was it appears that the press of other legislative matters never allowed her to promote it with the Governor
  • Jeremy Wright wrote an excellent Op-Ed for the Portland Press Herald on April 15 promoting dark skies and Rob wrote a Letter to the Editor of the Times Record [published Friday, April 21] on the same topic.
  • The film Defending the Dark will be presented at Curtis Memorial Library by Nancy Hathaway of DSM and Rob on May 3.  Scheduling is being arranged with Prince Memorial Library in Cumberland to show the film.  Directors were asked to make contact with their local libraries and civic groups to show the film.  Royalties to the filmmaker have been established at $50/showing by a non-profit such as a library for audiences of <50 and $150 for >50 but <150, seemingly within the budgets of most libraries.


Membership Committee: Al and Kevin

  • Al reported membership had grown to 83, and possibly 86, effected by the vagaries of the joining process and whether new members opted out of NSN. 
  • CARRY OVER ACTION ITEM: Membership Committee to consider and propose ideas for a new member buddy system.  


Equipment Committee: Ara & Kevin

  • Neither member of the Equipment Committee could attend the meeting so there were no official updates on the Questar sale, or the Maine Coast Waldorf School observatory proposal.  Rob did report that Ara informed him the Questar was going to be advertised on other website message boards, such as for birding groups.  Also, the MCWS is in discussions with the Freeport Code Enforcement Officer about how an observatory would fit in under Freeport’s Zoning Ordinance.  The outcome of those discussions will inform a final decision on go/ no go.
  • Rob suggested it would be helpful to get a few pictures of equipment we have to lend to add to our website as a way to encourage member use and showcase another benefit of SMA membership.  Kevin offered to take pictures so we could have these posted.
  • The new autofocuser was purchased and will be added back to the EAA scope optical train.
  • Rob reported that after the NEAF trip Ara determined that the purchase of a ZWO ASIAIR Plus Wifi Camera Controller could obviate the need for much of the image processing software currently required for the EAA scope to process images.  This would simplify use of that instrument making easier for other club members to operate the equipment at star parties.  The cost of the accessory is about $300 and it was voted to purchase it.  
  • CARRY OVER ACTION ITEM: Equipment Committee to assess equipment, identify star party equipment and make sure it is in working order, and, as needed, prepare cheat sheet instructions to enable other volunteers with less experience to set up and use the equipment.  Identify other instruments to be sold, given away, or disposed of. 


Treasurer’s Report/Finance Committee: Bob

Bob reported $16,599.42 after the $1500 donation from the Feder Foundation and new memberships. 


Executive Committee: Rob, Ara, Bob, Russ

  • The Annual Meeting has now been properly noticed and will occur at the May 4th meeting.  We determined that based on the membership level at the end of February (deadline for renewal) membership was at 80.  A quorum is 25% or 20 members.  With the addition of new members since then, raising membership to 88, we will need 22 members to constitute a quorum.
  • CARRY OVER ACTION ITEM: Directors’ pictures and bios are needed for the website.
  • Rob recommended a number of housekeeping changes on the website that he will take up with Kevin and Ara.




The meeting ended about 8:15 p.m.



Submitted by


Rob Burgess



Next Directors’ Meetings (all on Wednesdays at 7p.m. via Zoom):  

  • May 17
  • June 21
  • July 19
  • August 16
  • Sept 20