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Board Meeting Minutes Feburary 21st, 2024

SMADirectors’ Meeting Minutes

February21, 2024





In attendance: Directors BobDodge, Al DiSabatino, Carson Hanrahan, Jeremy Wright, Russ Pinizzotto, Ara
Jerahian and Rob Burgess and club members David Gay, George Bokinsky and David Crocker.
A quorum was present.


The minutes of the January 18, 2024 meeting were approved.


Follow-Up on ActionItems and Committee Reports:


Program Committee: Russand Maame

·     Rob asked for a discussion on whether ourmonthly meetings were too esoteric for new members. Carson expressed concern that when new peoplejoin a club they go there for help and that our monthly programs may not address
that need. Rob and Russ noted that ourMarch 2023 with the “Planetarium Lady” covered some basic material and that our
past “So Santa Brought You a Telescope! Now What?” covered basics as well. However, it was agreed that perhaps two recurring programs a year, suchas March and September, covering some basics of star gazing, using star charts
or planetarium software, star hopping, binocular astronomy, etc. could be
promoted and advertised to newbies so they knew which meetings might be most
helpful to them.

·      Russ reviewed upcoming programs: Ara on astrophotography on March 7 andPhilippe Reekie from the Harvard College Observatory on “Evidence of Life in
Extraterrestrial salts?” on April 4 were set. Russ has qualified us to be able to get NASA speakers through NSN and wewill seek to get someone to speak about the Deep Space Network . We could also ask Greg Shanos to share histrip to totality in Texas on April 8. Russ also has asked Larry Esposito to talk about planetary rings.

·      Rob will continue to reach out to Spirit AeroSystems in Biddeford to discuss their role in supplying heat resistant
materials for planetary missions.


Outreach Committee: Carson

·      There was a brief follow-on discussion regardingthe club survey indicating weather and distance were the two inhibitors to more
club participation at events. Consequently, the club will be looking for more venues in the greaterPortland area for star parties to balance out activities in Brunswick. Carson reminded the Board that the commentssubmitted with the survey conveyed much useful information beyond what the
survey answers revealed. Mostrespondents said they planned to attend a club event in 2024. We had a 45% response rate on thesurvey. Thanks to Carson for generating,administering and analyzing the survey.

·      Jeremy offered that affiliating with establishedorganizations in the area can provide a venue and an audience and that efforts
in the greater Portland area should be pursued through local land trusts or
similar organizations. It was noted thateach of the communities around Portland has a local land trust, among other
non-profits, environmental, etc. groups.

·      Rob said he would reach out to the BrunswickTopsham Land Trust, the Maine Coast Heritage Trust and Maine’s First Ship, to
invite joint events in 2024. Theseorganizations all requested star parties in 2023 we couldn’t accommodate. This was an ACTION ITEM.

·      Other outreach events, sought by third partiesor scheduled by or through the club:

o  Freeport Women’s Club – winter stargazing – Jan19, 2 pm – Russ

o  Maine Senior College Winter Wisdom program –Light Pollution – Feb 14 – Rob

o  Adaptive Outdoor Education Center – lightpollution talk – mid Mar – Rob



o  Clare Harrington – MSAD 51 (Cumberland/No.Yarmouth) – fall 2024 for 180 students

o  Harrison, ME public library – talk in March,TBD, on stars, planets and eclipse – for children and families – Chris Parent

o  Falmouth and Cumberland Libraries – eclipsetalks, dates TBD – Ron Thompson

o  USM Garden Club, Sabattus – seeking volunteerfor speaker

o  Space Day Maine, May 3, 2024 – Greeley Jr High –840 students – many SMA volunteers as speakers, demonstrators, sought.

o  Ara reported that the observatory project atMaine Coast Waldorf School appears to have died on the vine. Enthusiasm for the project remains high inthe school and faculty but there appeared to be insurmountable problems with
the Town of Freeport over permitting for such a project.


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

·      Rob reported that the Land Use PlanningCommission recently voted to deny the request to rezone the area around Pickett
Mountain for mining.

·      In Howie’s absence there was no update onMitchell Field in Harpswell.

·      Jeremy provided a great GoogleMaps tool for highlighting the location of our recommended stargazing sites in
our club footprint. A few more suggestedsites were added in the meeting and the final version will be submitted to
Kevin to upload to our webpage. This wasan ACTION ITEM. Jeremy alsosuggested that we needed a tab dedicated to dark skies on our webpage. Rob offered to put together some Dark SkyInternational information on sensible outdoor lighting standards.

·      Rob reported that he continues toparticipate in discussions about modifying Dark Sky Maine’s board structure and
integration into the astronomy and environmental landscape. He highlighted the recent ornamental lightingdecision made by Maine DOT on the Penobscot Narrows Bridge in Bucksport that is
highly light polluting. DSM hasprotested but it was too late. This isan illustration of why DSM needs to expand its network to become aware of these
kinds of decisions before they are hard baked.

·      Rob reported on discussions withDr. Elizabeth Stone, DVM, of Freeport about a birding group proposing to use
Community-based social marketing technique to galvanize commitment and
funding. This new process may have valueto SMA in the future.

·      Rob prepared a proposedgubernatorial Proclamation about International Dark Sky Week and submitted it
to the Governor’s Office on behalf of SMA and DSM.


Membership Committee: Al and Kevin

·      A long-pending ACTION ITEM on whether or not to create a buddysystem for new members as one way to possibly reduce attrition in new members
was discussed and rejected. It wasdetermined that between the communications from our Membership chair and the
follow up by Club President there’s a fairly warm welcome provided to each new
member. We will emphasize newbieprograms and the value of coming to club star parties.

·      Al reported that membership peaked at 106 atthis time. However, approximately 30 ofthese members have not renewed and will be dropped from our roster at the end
of February. Al has sent tworeminders. Rob will send one finalnotice encouraging those thirty to renew. This level of member fall-off is similar to what was experienced at thebeginning of 2023.


Equipment Committee: Ara & Kevin

·      Jeremy reported he had all the equipment donatedfrom NH and recommended those assets be sold at the Club Open House. The club needs to choose a date andestablish what is to be sold, with prices.

In previous conversations it was suggested that a worksession occur at Neptune Drive to install dew rings, photograph lending program
telescopes and prepare materials for sale.


Treasurer’s Report/Finance Committee: Bob

·      Bob reported that as of 2/21/24 the club had $19,569.95in its account, the highest we have ever had, recently boosted by membership
renewals. Three other deposits haveposted on Stripe but have yet to be transferred into our account. The Board
approved the recommended transfer of $10,000 of club funds into a CD at Bangor
Savings Bank that would become the basis for a club endowment fund.

·      The Board approved a $100 donation to Dark SkyMaine in honor of our deceased member, Earl Raymond.



Executive Committee: Rob, Ara, Bob, Russ

·      CARRY OVER ACTION ITEM: The director bios and pictures need to beuploaded to the website. Russ haspromised a picture (or one of Afred E. Newman will be substituted 😉).

·     Bob and Howie, serving as a NominatingCommittee, report that they have reached out to several possible candidates and
have received positive interest by most. They expect to have a slate of three replacement candidates for theAnnual Meeting on April 4.

Other: TheBoard supported the idea of an Open House on 4/27 or 5/4. The Board recommended to proceed with a dateand to buy or rent tents to provide coverage in the event of inclement weather.

The meeting ended about 8:40 p.m.


Submitted by

Rob Burgess


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


·       Mar20

·       ClubAnnual Meeting (April 4)

·       Apr17

·       May15

·       Jun19