Return to site

Club Meeting Summary - Feb. 4, 2021

· Club Meeting Summary

Southern Maine Astronomers


4 February 2021, 1830 hrs

Attending: Rob Burgess, Russell Pinizzotto, Al DiSabatino, Paul Howell, Ara Jerahian, Roy Patrice, Greg Thorup, Rowen Goebel-Bain, Jack Gelfand, Earl Raymond, Bob Dodge, Dave Thibeault, Ron Thompson, Forrest Sumner, Greg Lewis, Nathan Bergeron, Phillip Mathieu, Marc Stowbridge, Paul Schumann, George Bokinsky, Nicholas Wall, Tom O’Connor, Scott Lovejoy.

1900: Rob Burgess opened the formal portion of the meeting with announcements including a planned Zoom session via NASA TV of the Perseverance landing on Mars; upcoming March, 4 Zoom SMA meeting featuring Professor Neil Comins of UMO. Additional announcements included Russell Pinizzotto having completed 5000 satellite observation. Ron Thompson also announced his intention to retire as Treasurer of SMA after many years of faithful service.

Invited Speaker: Chuck Allen, Past President of the Astronomical League

Chuck Allen joined the meeting via Zoom from his home near Louisville, Kentucky on the occasion of the 75th Anniversary of the Astronomical League. His presentation included the history of the Astronomical League based upon his recent article in the December, 2020 edition of The Reflector. The early support of the evolution of the society with its first president Professor Harlow Shapley of Harvard University and support from Charles Fedder editor of Sky & Telescope for 33 years. Of interest, it was the Astronomical Society of Portland, Maine that provided the tenth vote necessary to form the League in November, 1946.

Ongoing activities of the league were described with emphasis on the many observing programs meant to encourage the individual and group experience with hands-on astronomy. He discussed the current challenges posed by worsening light pollution, the need to venture further from home in search of dark skies, leading to fewer in the younger generations taking up astronomy as a hobby and, potentially, future career. The plans for annual meeting was discussed in the setting of Covid-19.

Biography of Mary Somerville presented by Al DiSabatino

Al DiSabatino described the contributions to astronomy of Mary Somerville (1780-1872), born in Great Britain and died in Napes, Italy where she was buried. As a writer and popularizer of science, she brought astronomy to the attention of the public through books such as “The Heavens” and through her friendship with William and Caroline Herchel around the time of the discovery of Neptune. A main-belt asteroid and crater on Moon are named in her honor as is Somerville College at Oxford University.

Constellation of the Month: Auriga by Russell Pinizzotto

Russ continued his series with Auriga with details of the constellation known as “the charioteer.” Beginning with Capella, the brightest of its stars also known as “the goat” star. Interesting viewing objects in Auriga include “the Cheshire Cat” and NGC 1893 and NGC 2208 an out of the galactic plane spiral galaxy. Viewing Auriga involves looking into the galactic anti-center or 180 degrees away from the center of Milky Way.

Next month’s galaxy will be Monoceros.

George Bokinsky, Secretary