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SMA Board Minutes, Feb. 15th 2023

· Board Minutes

 SMA Directors’ Meeting Minutes

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February 15, 2023

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Via Zoom

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7:00 pm

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In attendance: Directors Al DiSabatino, Kevin Kane, Carson Hanrahan, Howie Marshall, Bob Dodge, Kerry Kertes, Ara Jerahian, Rob Burgess and members David Gay, George Bokinsky and Dwight Lanpher.  A quorum was present.undefined


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The minutes of the January 26, 2023 meeting were approved.  undefined

 

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Follow-Up on Action Items and Committee Reports: undefined


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Program Committee:  Russ & Maameundefined

Neither member of the Program Committee was able to attend.  Rob reported that thee following speakers had been lined up:undefined

  • March – Carrie Cruz from the Vermont Astronomical Society speaking about constellations and ancient and native peoples’ mythologies
  • April – TBD
  • May – Dr. Bischoff of the Osher Map Library at USM addressing ancient celestial maps
  • June – TBD
  • July – TBD
  • August – Dr. Heidi DeBlock on the physiological rigors of long space flight
  • September – Greg Shanos on preparing for and photographing the October 15 Annual Solar Eclipse and the April 8, 2024 Total Solar Eclipse
  • October – TBD
  • November – TBD
  • December – TBD
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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.undefined
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Outreach Committee:  Kerry & Carsonundefined

There was extensive discussion of the upcoming star party season.  The schedule below was confirmedundefined

Brunswick

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March 25 7-9pm

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April 22 7-9

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May 20 8-10

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Solar:

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June          Family Fun day _ Cape Elizabethundefined

July                LLBean (Kerry to explore possibilities)undefined

Brunswick

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August 19     8-10pmundefined

Sept 16     7-9 undefined

October 21   7-9undefined

November 18   7-9undefined


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Kerry and Carson presented a Volunteer Sign-Up Sheet as a Google Doc that would be subject to real-time fill in the blanks.  It would be posted on the website and member volunteers would be asked to open the form from the website and insert their name and the role they were volunteering for.  Kevin was asked to help with getting the form on the site.  How the system would work would be discussed at each club meeting, reinforcing the need for volunteers and encouraging members to sign up.  The form would also allow members or guests to make requests of objects to observe which could guide scope operators with targets.undefined


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Other suggestions from comments included:

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  • Having a “leader” established for each star party so that there was a go-to person to offer welcome remarks to guests, explain the evening’s program and to answer general questions.  They would be responsible for opening the space and locking it up.  They would also deploy unexpected volunteers to where most needed.
  • There would be one laser pointer operator.
    • There would be one speaker who would offer his/her short talk two times.  This would allow late arriving guests to go to the second presentation of the talk.  Each talk should include a very basic overview of what’s up, using SkyMaps (or equivalent) so that guests get some orientation to what they might see. (On nights where it is overcast and the only activity is the talk we need to have a Plan B to supplement the talk.  Equipment set up and demos might work well.)
    • AL has an Observing Program pin for Outreach.  Anyone performing 10 hours or more of such service can can receive the “Basic” award (50 hours for “Stellar” and 100 hours for “Master”).  This would be a way for the club to recognize volunteer commitment and might help in recruiting.
    • The EAA scope will be repaired with a new autofocuser and will be incorporated into star parties when possible.  Other users need to be trained in its operation.
    • Any images obtained during a star party should be posted on the website with guests being told at the star party where they could find pictures from the star party.
  • If time and organization permit, a list of objects that might be observed during that star party should be assembled with a few facts on each object.  A QR code for the evening could then be scanned by guests with their cell phones and have the evening’s agenda immediately available for follow along.undefined


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ACTION ITEM: Provide responses to all outside groups that have requested a star party such as Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Maine’s First Ship, Prince Memorial Library (Cumberland) and provide a Yea or Nay in light of all planned events.  If we say No we should direct them to planned SMA star parties at Neptune Drive (or elsewhere).undefined


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CARRY-OVER ACTION ITEM: 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.undefined


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Dark Sky Committee:  undefined

  • Rob reported that MRRA has agreed to install the shield on the streetlight at Neptune Drive.  
  • ACTION ITEM:  Howie will circulate his questionnaire on dark sky sites for observing to the directors for their suggestions.  We will start with that and build on it in coming months as more members become aware of it.
  • Rob encouraged directors to see the recent email from new member Russell Clark about their side-by-side display in Bath of streetlights at various color temperatures.  Please follow the procedures Russell sets out in his email to call before visiting as the display is on private property and we don’t want to alarm the residents by showing up after dark.
  • A helpful discussion ensued about pointers we could provide to residents or new towns about converting streetlights to LEDs, in addition to our recommendations on color temperature.  They include:
  • Ensure that proper tilt adjustments are made to the bottom of the fixture is parallel to the road surface to achieve full cut-off of the fixture;
  • Make sure the to-be-installed wattage of the new fixture is not too high.  The town or lighting contractor should have footcandle standards for illumination.  The utility company has an incentive to have higher wattage (to sell more electricity).  Usual standards are 30 watts for residential streets and 50 watts at intersections.
  • Proper lenses under the fixture can diffuse the glare of the fixture when looking at it from below.  Dwight Lanpher recommended the “Wavemax” lense that was currently being used in Portland.undefined
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  • Rob reported on a Dark Sky Maine meeting that he attended (as did Dwight) on 1/19/23.  As a result of that meeting Rob recommended an Action Plan to DSM to move beyond simply educating about the problem of light pollution to a role of organizing among astronomy clubs in Maine for action.  Those recommendations were attached to this agenda. undefined


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Membership Committee:undefined

  • Al reported memberships peaked at 107, with two members having affirmatively indicated they did not intend to renew and 38 still being uncertain.  Al sent out a second notice in early February that got a few members to renew.  Before a third notice goes out Rob suggested the board look at dividing up the list of non-renewers among directors to make a phone call.  Rob emphasized that we should do all we can to mitigate attrition in membership.  ACTION ITEM:  Rob to circulate a list of non-renewers to directors and ask any directors who know people on the list to call them.  Other names will be distributed at random by Rob.  Mitigating attrition should be a top priority.
  • ACTION ITEM: Membership Committee to consider and propose ideas for a new member buddy system.  undefined


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Equipment Committee:undefined

  • No developments with the Questar sale.  Before reducing the price it was suggested we look at posting the instrument on a Birding website or eBay.  If there is no luck then we can lower the price on Cloudy Nights. 
  • 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 was authorized to replace the damaged autofocuser for $199. 
  • ACTION ITEM: Equipment Committee to assess equipment, identify star party equipment and make sure it is in working order, and, as needed, prepare cheat sheet instructions to enable other volunteers with less experience to set up and use the equipment.  Identify other instruments to be sold, given away, or disposed of. 
  • Ara reported on discussions he has had, including a preliminary proposal, to the Maine Coast Waldorf School about building an observatory on their campus in Freeport.  The initial proposal has been well received.  The School’s Board was meeting this week to discuss.  If there’s a willingness to move forward discussions will require a subcommittee from SMA to participate.  Partnering with the School meets all of the criteria SMA has looked for over the years in terms of siting an observatory.undefined


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Treasurer’s Report/Finance Committee:undefined

Bob reported $14,928 in the Treasury after a $539 insurance premium payment and three months of rent ($450) paid at Neptune Drive.

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Executive Committee: undefined

  • Rob will reach out to Jeremy Wright to see if he might be willing to serve as the 11th director.
  • Annual Meeting in April: the following members’ terms are up: Bob, Russ, Kerry, Carson and Rob.  All those present indicated a willingness to serve another term
  • 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.
  • It was agreed to develop an In Memoriam tab on our website to recognize three members who have passed away: Steve Innes, Jeff Weinstein and Kirk Rogers.undefined


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The meeting ended about 9:00 p.m.

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Submitted by

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Rob Burgess

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Next Directors’ Meetings (all on Wednesdays at 7p.m. via Zoom):  undefined

  • March 15
  • April 19
  • May 17

June 21undefined