SMA Directors’ Meeting Minutes
January 26, 2023
In attendance: Directors Al DiSabatino, Kevin Kane, Maame Andoh, Carson Hanrahan, Howie Marshall, Bob Dodge, Russ Pinizzotto, Rob Burgess and members Ted Hebert, David Gay, Jeremy Wright and George Bokinsky. A quorum was present.
The minutes of the November 16, 2022 meeting were approved.
Follow-Up on Action Items and Committee Reports:
Speakers for our February and March meeting have been set: February – Jack St. Louis, President of the Vermont Astronomical Society (VAS); and March – Carrie Cruz, “Planetarium Lady,” also of VAS speaking about current night sky objects and constellation mythologies. In a separate Program Committee meeting of Russ, Maame and Rob the following speakers were penciled in:
- August 3, 2023 – Dr. Heidi DeBlock, MD, on physiological and psychological challenges of long space flight
- September 7, 2023 – Greg Shanos – How to observe the partial annual solar eclipse on 10/15/23 and the total solar eclipse on 4/8/24
- Other suggestions: Aaron Clevetsen, Director of Astronomical League Observing Programs, Prof. Elizabeth McGrath on the JWST calibration process, Dr. Aileen Yingst on pending lunar mission looking for ice, launch of the Psyche mission in October, Osiris Rex asteroid sample return in Fall 2023, Radio Astronomy from Haystack Observatory. It was recommended to look at Space.com and Universe Today websites as sources for speakers.
CARRY OVER ACTION ITEMS: Program Committee to report back with a) language to add to website on considerations for buying equipment and b) recommendations on the best way to provide hands-on assistance.
- BDA Fundraising Auction item, Oct 20 no immediate action required – club offered a star party for a private group at Neptune Dr that could include a business group or other outing. Awaiting contact from buyer regarding scheduling
- Teens to Trails – SMA offered a star party for an outing club as part of raffle program to energize kids in outing clubs. Greely HS Outing Club (Cumberland, ME) was the winner with a date TBD.
Rob will be soliciting volunteers for both of these events. We may be able to incorporate these groups into one of our regular star parties at Neptune Drive of the late August star party hosted by the Cumberland Library.
Kerry again presented a list of dates for club events in 2023 that included slots for solar observing at the Cape Elizabeth Family Fun Day, the Strawberry Festival and the Yarmouth Clam Festival. Requests by other organizations have also been received that are attempting to be integrated into a full-year program, mindful of over-extending club volunteers. There was discussion about Dark Sky Maine and Navitour approaches requiring a fee to the club as a way to address requests for our participation. The largest challenge remains in how to raise sufficient volunteers. It was agreed that the need be addressed at every club meeting as well as through regular mailings and individual follow-up. The following dates have been tentatively penned in:
March 25 7-9pm
April 22 7-9
May 20 8-10
June /July TBA events - looking for events, times etc.
Family Fun day _ Cape Elizabeth
Clam festival – Yarmouth; or LLBean
August 19 8-10pm
Sept 16 7-9
October 21 7-9
November 18 7-9
As there is a desire to hold at least one of these star parties elsewhere in our footprint members were encouraged to come forth with ideas on where and how to do that including partnering with local groups like Land Trusts or Libraries, and report back to Kerry or Carson.
- The scrolling video of SMA, SMA activities and images taken by members, is in need of photographs to provide the background to the video. Kerry has been in touch with the school librarian and the computer science lab to help with production once he has assembled the raw materials. If members have photos they can share they should reach out to Kerry.
Dark Sky Committee:
- Rob reported that the light shield at MRRA has not been installed. The Utilities Director has not responded to recent correspondence and Rob will follow up.
- Dark Sky Maine is hosted a meeting of all astronomy clubs in Maine on Jan 19. Rob attended. The meeting lacked focus. Rob followed up with suggestions on how DSM could be more useful in executing light pollution control objectives. Next meeting is March 17. Rob will attend and others are welcome. Suggestion attached.
CARRY-OVER ACTION ITEM: Develop questionnaire and means for soliciting member input by next meeting so as to build a dark sky observing sites map for our footprint communities. Effort to build this map should be mentioned at each club meeting to spur members to suggest spots in their respective areas.
- Rob suggested we consider renewing participation in Globe at Night. He also suggested the same to Dark Sky Maine.
- Al reported memberships peaked at 106, but only about half had renewed as of 1/26/23. Follow up strategies were discussed. Al will send reminders to all non-renewers. Individual calls by directors was discussed as a possible way to round up stragglers. Mitigating attrition should be a top priority.
- Matching new members to an existing member, a buddy system, was briefly discussed. It should be reviewed at the next meeting as a way to improve on-boarding of new members, with the Membership Committee proposing ideas for how it might be implemented (perhaps rotated among directors?).
- Ara reported the Strikingly enhancements resulting from our membership status exceeding 100 did not offer any real practical improvements to our GG arrangements. Any noteworthy enhancements will be shared by email to the membership by ARA if uncovered.
- Rob updated the Equipment inventory for Bob for purposes of our casualty/theft insurance coverage.
- The Questar sale has been reposted on Cloudy Nights after a break at $4k. Ara said most potential buyers seem to be collectors who are very fussy about the instrument asking many questions that we simply cannot answer or that require work to answer. Although our particular model may have been more designed for birders, it did have a number of celestial-use eyepieces and solar filters. We may repost it on popular birder websites.
- Rob suggested it would be helpful to get a few pictures of equipment we have to lend to add to our website as a way to encourage member use and showcase another benefit of SMA membership.
- Ara reported his careful examination of the EAA refractor after the fall from the dolly showed no damage to the optical train of the telescope but that the auto-focuser was not working. He will continue to work with it but if it needs replacement a new one can be obtained for $310.
- The Equipment Committee should examine how the EAA scope can be better utilized and incorporated into this year’s star parties.
Treasurer’s Report/Finance Committee:
Bob reported $15,464 in the Treasury with the increase coming from membership renewals.
- The hunt continues for an 11th director
- Annual Meeting in April: the following members’ terms are up: Bob, Russ, Kerry, Carson and Rob. If re-elected their term would expire in 2025. Rob asked if those members were willing to serve another term.
- The Annual Report has been circulated, with virtually no responses.
- Directors’ pictures and bios are needed for the website.
- Rob asked for any new thoughts about committee organization or objective and if board members are OK with current committee assignments.
The meeting ended about 9:15 p.m.
Next Directors’ Meetings (all on Wednesdays at 7p.m. via Zoom):
- February 15
- March 15
- April 19
- May 17
- June 21
[From November’s minutes – still useful]
Footprint libraries with library telescopes:
Scarborough Public Library
Portland Public Library (and Peaks Island branch)
Cape Elizabeth (Thomas Memorial Library)
Cumberland (Prince Memorial Library)
Windham Public Library
Yarmouth (Merrill Memorial Library)
Orrs Island Public Library
Cundy’s Harbor Public Library
Brunswick (Curtis Memorial Library)
Topsham Public Library
Bath (Patten Free Library)
Boothbay Harbor Public Library
Bowdoinham Public Library
Lisbon Public Library
Auburn Public Library
Lewiston Public Library
Raymond Public Library
Casco Public Library
Limerick Public Library
Wiscasset Public Library
Damariscotta (Skidompha Public Library)
Waldoboro Public Library
Lovell (Charlotte Hobbs Public Library)
Bridgton Public Library