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Board Meeting Minutes, June 21st 2023

· Board Minutes

SMA Directors’ Meeting Minutes


June 21 2023

Via Zoom

7:00 pm



In attendance: Directors Bob Dodge, Russ Pinizzotto, Kevin Kane, Maame Andoh, Jeremy Wright and Rob Burgess and members David Gay, George Bokinsky and Anne Dibriko.  A quorum was present.


The minutes of the April 19, 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 primarily with links to other information available on the internet.  Jeremy offered to work with Kevin and Carson on this project. 
  • 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 – we hope to have a professor from St. Michael’s College, topic TBD
  • November – TBD
  • December – TBD


Outreach Committee:  Kerry & Carson

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



March 25 7-9pm – cancelled due to snow


April 22 7-9 – conditions better than expected


May 20 8-10 – held, but all indoors because of heavy rain




June          Family Fun day - Cape Elizabeth  - June 17 - SMA participation cancelled because of clouds/rain

July                TBD – it was suggested to look to a brew pub with outside seating as a good venue for some solar observing.  Bob will pursue his contact at Maine Beer Company in Freeport; Jeremy will contact another new brew pub near the “Big Indian” in Freeport.



August 13     8-10pm – joint Perseid Event with Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust; also, Maine State Star                           Party at Cobscook Bay St Park

August 19         8-10pm – Club/Public star party at Neptune Dr

Sept 16     7-9 Neptune Dr

October 21   7-9 Neptune Dr

November 18   7-9 Neptune Dr





August 16         8-10pm – joint event with Southworth Planetarium and Prince Mem Library



October 14 Stars Over Katahdin – Partial Solar Eclipse – Stargazing – Friends of KWW


ACTION ITEM from last meeting: 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.


Rob reported on his presentation to the Connect group on May 1(~25), the May 3 showing of Defending the Dark at the Curtis Memorial Library with Nancy Hathaway of Dark Sky Maine (~35), and Space Day efforts by Ron Thompson, Jon Wallace and himself on May 5 at the Brunswick Jr High School (~280).




Kerry previously 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, but with neither Outreach Committee member at the meeting there was no update.   A new request has been received from the Harpswell Heritage Land Trust for a star party in Harpswell in October and from Dark Sky Maine for assistance at the DSM booth at the Common Ground Country Fai in Union September 22-24.   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.


Student-developed scrolling video – Rob reported that the “video” received was actually a 12-slide PowerPoint presentation.  The student used our website as best he could but mischaracterized a number of aspects of the club.  Rob offered new verbiage for the slides and previously circulated it to all directors.  ACTION ITEM: Please review Rob’s comments and send him any thoughts on the original program and proposed revisions.



2024 Total Eclipse – Please see the Minutes of the April 19 meeting for details.  ACTION ITEM: Determine if we will establish an Eclipse Committee to plan activities both locally and in totality zone. 


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

Rob reported on what went wrong with LD 1845 on dark skies at the Legislature.  Rob spent 12 hours over two days at the Legislature and prepared eight drafts of the bill.  A memo detailing the assessment was appended to the agenda.  SMA also submitted a gubernatorial proclamation to Rep Laurie Osher in the hope she would present it to the Governor for consideration for International Dark Sky Week.  Save it for next year – and go directly to the Governor!  Director Jeremy Wright wrote an excellent guest column in the PPH on the value of dark skies as part of International Dark Sky Week.  Rob reported on what he knew about Russell Clark’s effort to get 2200k streetlights installed in Bath.


Membership Committee: Al and Kevin

Rob reported that the club roster remains in the mid-80’s and that 29 new members had joined the club since start of the year.  Attrition is our enemy.  Bob suggested that with the elimination of COVID  protocols the impetus to join clubs may have waned with more activities again being available.



  • CARRY OVER ACTION ITEM: Membership Committee to consider and propose ideas for a new member buddy system.  


Equipment Committee: Ara & Kevin

  • There were no updates on the Questar sale or the Maine Coast Waldorf School observatory proposal.  
  • 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 $14,888.72 after paying the annual Astronomical League assessment and reimbursement to Rob for new equipment for the EAA scope, new club brochures and memberships in the Maine Philanthropy Center and Brunswick Downtown Ass’n. 


Executive Committee: Rob, Ara, Bob, Russ

  • 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 Board voted to cast its ballot in the Astronomical League’s election of its Secretary, Terry Mann, incumbent, and to approve two by-laws changes.  Rob will forward the club’s ballot to the AL.




The meeting ended about 8:27 p.m.



Submitted by


Rob Burgess



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

  • June 21
  • July 19
  • August 16
  • Sept 20
  • Oct 18
  • Nov 15
  • Dec 20

From April Minutes – thoughts on successful star party organization

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
  • Newly added (6/23): Incorporate at every event a brief discussion on light pollution and things people can do at home.  Include Globe at Night constellation of the month into laser tours as a segue to a discussion on light pollution.