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Club Meeting Summary - Jan. 6, 2022

· Club Meeting Summary

Southern Maine Astronomers

Club Meeting

6 January, 2022 1830 hours


Attending were members Russell Pinizzotto, Ara Jerahian, Greg Thorup, Dwight Lanpher, Bob

Dodge, Forrest Sumner, George Bokinsky, Kerry Kertes, Al DiSabatino, David Manchester, Abby

Gardner, Mike Mack, Ron Thompson, Nicholas Wall, John Saucier, Paul Schumann, Roy Reigel,

Dave Thibeault, Chris Parent, Jack Gelfand, Marc Stowbridge, Bruce Vanderburg, Thomas

O’Connor, John O’Donnell (new member), James Shields, Howie Marshall, Mike Simmons, and

Rob Burgess, and guests Doug Hersom, Ron Fluet, Dan N., Wendy Mae, Kat __, Carl Gurtman, and

Atul Bhat (from India).


1900: Rob Burgess opened the formal portion of the meeting welcoming new member John

O’Donnell, and noting others who have joined the club since Last meeting: Kerry Conway, Carson

Hanrahan, Beck McLean, Stevie Demowski and Kathleen Gallegos Family. The club now has 66

members, the largest in its history. Rob also acknowledged Atul Bhat, Physics Professor and

Director of the Poornaprajna Amateur Astronomy Club, part of Poornaprajna College in Udupi, India

(on India’s west coast, about halfway between Mumbai and the southern tip of India). Atul’s joining

us was the result of a serendipitous internet connection made by James Shields. We thanked Atul

for his dedication in joining us at 5 a.m. in India.


Recent activities by members: Rob reported on the following:

  • The club hosted an impromptu star party on Friday, December 3, 2021 for the Waldorf School in Freeport, attended by about 20 students and parents, and organized by Ara Jerahian. In attendance for the club were Ara, John Wallace, James Shields and Rob Burgess. With this event the club exceeded 1,000 guests at club events in 2021.
  • On December 10, 2021 the club hosted a twice-postponed star party for the Ladies Adventure Club at club headquarters on Neptune Drive. About 20 were in attendance, including Bob Dodge, Al DiSabatino, Ara Jerahian, James Shields and Rob Burgess. Undeterred by the overcast weather Ara had the complete EAA system set up outside for demonstration purposes and showed images from a prior event to explain the process and what could be seen by a camera and through digital stacking. We used the full complement of facilities at Neptune Drive including our shared office, kitchen and conference room for a brief talk and Q&A about astronomy.


Announcements: Rob thanked members who had renewed and encouraged others who had not

yet renewed to do so. New request for club support included the following:

  • Jan 20, 2022 Night Hike/constellation tour at Bradbury Mountain State Park with the Cape Elizabeth High School Outing Club. Details to follow.
  • Maine First Ship, a non-profit building an exact replica of the first European ship built in the Americas at Popham Beach in 1607, has requested a star party around the ship’s launch in June 2022, and perhaps again in the fall as the ship becomes a living museum on the Bath waterfront. More details as we get closer to the date.
  • The Appalachian Mountain Club is inviting applications for volunteers at their two wilderness huts in the 100 Mile Wilderness and IDA International Dark Sky Park for the summer of 2022. Details to follow.
  • Southern Maine Girl Scouts have requested assistance with the girls achieving their Space Science Badge. James Shields will be coordinating this with more details to follow.


Guest Speakers: Ron Thompson, Russ Pinizzotto, Ara Jerahian – Astronomy Basics, Biocular

Observing, “Cloudy Nights” as a resource.  

Ron provided a helpful explanation on a number of topics including telescope types (refractors,

reflectors, compound). As to refactors Ron explained the terms “chromatic” versus “apochromatic,’

the latter being of higher quality due to multiple lenses and lens coatings that combine to bring all

wavelengths of light to a common focus and eliminate color fringing, particularly on bright objects.

Ron next discussed reflectors and compound (cadadioptric) telescopes and the various mounts for

each including fork mount, Donsonian and German Equatorial. Ron presented information on

various finder scopes and how to align them, diagonals for eyepieces, and various image

presentations depending upon the telescope used: upside down and flipped right to left without a

star diagonal, and right side up but flipped right to left with one. Ron noted orientation of the image

in space really did not matter. Ron next turned to eyepieces and how they were the true vehicle of

magnification of the image: the telescope gathers photons and the eyepieces magnify it. He

discussed various types, their fields of view and eye relief, and maximum magnification under typical

sky conditions we have in this region of the country, living under the Jet Stream. Ron explained dark

adaption and averted vision as part of observing techniques. Finally, Ron showed a monthly

SkyMaps star chart and encouraged observers to download one as part of planning their observing

targets for the night.


Russ Pinizzotto explained the two primary designs of binoculars (porro versus roof prisms, the latter

being the more conventional design), and the meaning of label of “x by x” with the first number

representing magnification and the second representing the aperture of the objective lens and the

instruments light gathering capacity. Russ provided some examples of store-bought and homemade

tripod mounts which were really essential for any kind of sustained observing. He encouraged those

new to the hobby to start with binoculars first and gain some familiarity with the night sky. He

heartily endorsed Ron’s recommendation of using SkyMaps for observing and particularly page two

of the monthly chart that showed 15-18 objects that were good binocular targets. Finally, Russ

encouraged people to go to the Astronomical League website to learn about AL Observing

Programs, many of which are for binocular observing.


Ara introduced the Cloudy Nights website ( managed by a telescope

equipment retailer Astronomics. Ara provided a brief tour of the various features of the site,

including various specialty interests such as astrophotography or particular instruments such as

computerized telescopes, refractors, Questars, or projects like backyard observatories, binoculars,

light pollution, solar observing and many more. Ara said participants in these various forums have

been invariably helpful, courteous and prompt when he’s posed a question or is seeking help with

something. Finally, Cloudy Nights offers the most active classified section in amateur astronomy

where all manner of used equipment is bought and sold. This website should be on the favorites list

of every amateur.


Because of the lateness of the meeting (too much excited talk of the James Webb Space Telescope

launch and deployment!) the tour of Cetus was postponed. We will take it up next year as by the

time of the next meeting it will be too low in our skies to observe in February.


The meeting concluded about 21:15


Rob Burgess

President, SMA