7 January 2021
Present: Rob Burgess, Forrest Sumner, Ron Thompson, Bob Dodge, James Shields, Al DiSabitino, Rowan Goebel-Bain, Ara Jerahian, David Gay, Jack Gelfand, Howie Marshall, Russell Pinizzotto, Greg Thorup, Bill Vanderburg, Earl Raymond, Scott Lovejoy, Dwight Lanpher, Greg Lewis, Roy Patrice, Paul Schuman, Troy Bennett, Dave Thibault, John Saucier, Carson Hanrahan, Richard Kahn, Tom …, Ben …, George Bokinsky. (29 in attendance)
1830: Social discussion on various subject since last meeting
1900: Rob Burgess began the Zoom meeting with topics of discussion and events since the last meeting of note including the location of SMA the a permanent location at Brunswick Landing and the construction of a shed that SMA will share with Teens to Trails with each having separate secures spaces. Volunteers build the ship within 6 hours with materials provided by a local supply company. The 8’X8’ floor plan will allow SMA to finally have room for two telescopes with mounts along with other essential items for the telescope lending program as well as night sky viewing on site. Russ Pinizzotto reported that the darkness on the site was promising for star parties.
Rob Burgess also reported that SMA has submitted a grant request with Bangor Savings Bank Foundation for $5000 for equipment for electronically-assisted astronomy to enable the club to host star parties in time of COVID.
Howie Marshall reported the imaging capture of a meteor streaking through Orion on a recent photography outing by pure serendipity using a 30” exposure.
Ron Thompson discussed celestial coordinates and how to use the setting circles on equatorial mounts to find one’s way to specific targets of interest using the Declination and Right Ascension of the object. Matching the Night Sky Maps available through Night Sky Network will help determine the best selection for a given night and time.
James Shields described his experience with smart phone astrophotography (using a Celestron 3-axis cell phone-to-eyepiece holder) and provided advice on getting started with easy to find but not so easy to image objects such as Moon and planets. James explained with images of what can be accomplished with practice, the right adapter, camera control apps, and post imaging processing. Easily obtained apps to improve imaging include Nightcap from Apple Store, and PIPP as free software for planet imaging pre-processing for video imaging. Post COVID, it was agreed having opportunities for guests to take an image with a cell phone would be a great value, providing the guest with personal satisfaction of capturing an image which would then lead to showing it off and posting it on social media which would provide tremendous exposure for the club.
Recommended was “A Guide to Smart Phone Astrophotography” by Dr. Sten Odenwald downloaded freely through the NASA website.
Russ Pinizzotto presented binocular astronomy with his extensive experience over time and during completing The Astronomical League’s observing programs. Differences between porro prism and roof prism binoculars in terms of light gathering make porro prism the better choice. The field of view of different binoculars was demonstrated using Orion as an example.
Weight limitations also come into consideration and types of mounts and their limitations were described. Image stabilization binoculars have improved the experience.
Russ described the Astronomical League’s advance binocular observing program for deep sky targets and the use of filters. Recommended were both a series of books and monthly SkyMaps lists of objects for binocular users (available through the Night Sky Network page linked to the SMA webpage).
Rob Burgess offered a review of the observing assets available through the Night Sky Network including links to local Clear Sky Clocks and current month SkyMaps, local weather forecasts for several days, Sun and Moon almanac data, ISS passes, a “What’s Up” video from NASA for each month, plus NASA exploration news – all available by a direct link from the SMA webpage. He also noted that as a member of SMA, once signed in to Night Sky Network, members could get discounts on major amateur astronomy magazines such as Sky & Telescope and Astronomy.
Russ Pinizzotto concluded the program with the constellation of the month Orion - the hunter - with comprehensive discussion of location, changes in boundaries over time, spectral classifications of the major stars, its place within the winter hexagon and the winter triangle. The main stars serve as pointers to Aldebaran, Sirius, Procyon, Castor and Pollux. Nebulae with Orion were shown and discussed. The “S” in Orion’s belt was shown as a binocular asterism.
Galileo’s exploration of Orion through his refractor with field of view of 15 arc-minutes was preserved in his sketches of the constellation represent a remarkable accomplishment given the limitations including glass with bubbles and greenish tinge. Russ is in process of recreating a telescope of these specifications.
A brief discussion with participants of the Zoom meeting followed concluding at 2130 hrs.