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SMA Board Minutes - Aug. 21, 2021

· Board Minutes

In attendance: Directors   Ara Jerahian, George Bokinsky, Al DiSabitino,  Forrest Sumner, Russ Pinizzotto, Bob Dodge and Rob Burgess and Club Member Paul Howell.  James Shields, Kerry Kertes and Rowan Gobeil-Bane were unable to attend.  A quorum was present.

The minutes of the July 17, 2021 meeting were approved.

Replacement Director for Scott – No update.   The vacancy will be announced at the Open House in the hope a new member might step forward.

Communications – internal & external – Rob reviewed recent achievements, thanking Paul for his work on the new club brochure, a draft of a slide show for schools, and the photo gallery at club HQ.  Rob suggested we assemble a list of dark sky observing sites in our footprint and post it on our website.  We get occasional inquiries about this and it would serve as a contribution to our dark sky advocacy efforts.

A new questionnaire on interest in and use of our club telescope lending program was developed and will be circulated at the Open House.  The questionnaire also asks for use of the website for club information, participation in Google Groups, specialty interests in astronomy and equipment, and willingness to perform more volunteer support work for the club.  The questionnaire will be sent out to all members after the Open House as well.

EAA Project – The procedures manual is mostly complete.  The club is ready to start EAA star parties as part of our standard star parties.  At the open house the newly donated C-11 tripod and mount will be installed on the new Scope Buggy the club purchased.

Equipment – It was hoped that a list of salable items would be determined after the Open House that would first be offered to members, then other “local” clubs, and finally on Cloudy Nights/Astromart. Any equipment remaining at members’ homes (c-8, c-9.25, Revolution Imager) was requested to be returned for storage at HQ.

Summer Star Parties and Events – reports and debriefs

a) Scarborough Land Trust – James is working with the land trust for more  “night hike[s] with stars” under a crescent moon on August 13/14.  James subsequently reported there were 7 guests.  Parking limitations reduce the number who can attend.  Future night hikes will be pursued.

b) Perseids at Crystal Spring Farm – Five club members (Paul, Tom Catterall, James, Dwight and Rob) brought equipment.  Al and Bob assisted with attendees.  There were about 40 others present.  Although a welcome table was set up with handout materials and planispheres it wasn’t visible nor manned.  With the arrival of guests being over an extended period it was not possible to really start a program and have everyone begin with the same organizational welcome.  To address these challenges the following suggestions were made:

• Wrap the table with low voltage red LED strings of lights so that it stands out as a focal point

• Man the table during the event

• Have telescopes labeled as A, B, C, etc.

• Assign different objects to observe to each observing station so a full complement of items can be seen

• Use a white board at the welcome table to explain telescope viewing stations and have stakes near scopes indicating which station they were

• Substitute paper handouts with QR coded materials that people could access by phone

The Stellina was very favorably regarded by all and having one for the club was considered to be a worthwhile goal.  However, the club EAA will do similar things albeit with far less ease.

Paul proposed that the club adopt a COVID policy.  After some discussion it was agreed that the easiest and most consistent practice would be to restrict guests to only those who were vaccinated.  Because we had no practical way to enforce this it was agreed that we would require masks of all as well.  At least if someone misstates their vaccination status they will at least still have to comply with masking.

c) Club Members Open House – [Followed Meeting.  In addition to the above Directors including James Shields, others attending included Howie Marshall, David Gay and a friend, Earl Raymond, Tom Catterall, Jon Wallace and Greg Lewis.  Tours of our office space and observing area took place along with a group discussion about club committees and ways folks could help.]

d) Great State of Maine Air Show – 35,000 people expected to attend Labor Day weekend.  Rob checked with the organizer and the commitment needed to be “inside the fence” is substantial such that we will not attempt it.  If we do anything we might simply be present at 179 Neptune or outside the gate to catch people coming and going.  A potentially great way to get exposure)

e) Popham Beach – Moonlight String Quartet with Kallie Sugatski was rescheduled to Friday, August 13 in Phippsburg.  Ms. Sugatski is a performance artist, hosting classical musical events, featuring contemporary composers of all persuasions, in unusual locations and venues.  SMA was asked to present information about the moon as part of this event.  Rob attended and did a 5-7 minute presentation on the Moon, and a second laser pointer tour of the night sky.  About 100 were in attendance and all seemed to thoroughly enjoy the entire program including the astronomy pieces.

f) ALCON Virtual August 20-21 – the Club agreed to contribute a $150 door prize to the AL for this virtual event.  It was agreed to purchase a $150 gift certificate from OPT since they have been very accommodating of our EAA project with discounts for us a non-profit.  [Rob presented a 3-minute presentation via ZOOM to all those in attendance (at 11:19 p.m.) describing SMA.  All groups donating door prizes were given this opportunity.]

g) State of Maine Star Party with Downeast Astronomers – August 27-28.  A reminder will be circulated to members.

h) Lady Adventurers – an outdoor adventure group that our partner Alicia Heyburn of Teens to Trails is affiliated with has asked for a star party at Neptune Drive in the fall.  This could also be an EAA event.

Program Committee and Club Meetings – Ara, Paul, Rob and Kerry met with Zach, head of IT for USM and learned Lecture Hall 165 (where we have met before) is fully capable of delivering zoom meetings with a live audience.  The club could thus resume in person meetings and by zoom.  A determination will be made shortly on where and how the next meeting will occur.  The club is booked for that room from September through December 2021.

George reported he is prepared to give several sequential talks at the September and following meetings about Astrobiology based on his study of a new textbook on the topic.  Russ will continue his constellation tours.  5-minute bios will be revived/continued.  Suggestions for other speakers included a colleague of Russ’, Rene Bergland, who could speak authoritatively on astronomer Maria Mitchell.  Rob offered to contact Prof. Elizabeth Mc Grath at Colby, again, now that she has had her baby.  He also has ideas for other speakers based on recent smaller NASA program announcements.

Finance Report – On Bob’s behalf Rob reported that the club treasury was $11,759.  AL reported 54 members.  Other than rent few expenses are expected through year end.  A new savings account was opened at Bangor Savings to start our efforts of developing an endowment.

Grant Submissions – Rob reported so far the club has had five foundation grants considered and three of them have been funded.  A total of $8,250 has so far been received, most of it for specified purposes.  There are four other grant requests pending by the club, with a combined total request of $30,000.  Other grant applications will be submitted as time permits.

The meeting concluded about 2:30 p.m., followed by set up for the Club Open House.

Submitted by

Rob Burgess