SMA Directors’ Meeting Minutes
16 January 2021, 1000 hrs
Present: Directors Rob Burgess, Forrest Sumner, Ron Thompson, James Shields, Al DiSabatino, Bob Dodge, Ara Jerahian and George Bokinsky; and Members Russell Pinizzotto, Kerry Kertes, and Earl Raymond.
1. Approval of Minutes: The Minutes of the 11/14/2020 Board meeting were discussed and approved.
2. Committee Reports and Deliverables:
a. Dark Sky Advocacy: Rob Burgess reported attending the IDA virtual Annual Meeting and addition, Rob has been appointed to the Town of Brunswick Committee for streetlight buy-out and conversion to LED technology.
b. Program Committee: The January 7, 2021 was discussed. 31 individuals attended the meeting including some from distant sites including Troy Bennett of the Bangor Daily News. The multiple topic format with shorter presentations received support. A future topic that may be of interest in astronomy software comparisons such as Sky Safari, Starry Night 7 Pro Plus,The Sky X, and Carte du Ciel, etc. Recruiting speakers for meetings beyond April, 2021 reveals challenges of making contacts for that purpose. June’s speaker will be Dr. Catherine Zucker of CfA-Harvard University.) Five minute astronomer biographies continues to be popular. It was suggested that we send out speaker requests to New England colleges and universities with Astronomy programs seeking speakers. Many research grant recipients have outreach responsibilities as part of their funding.
c. Outreach Committee: Night Sky Network (NSN) the Astronomical League (AL) tools on outreach success include developing media contacts for effective promotion of programs, poster distribution, and webpage redesign. James Shields and Ron Thompson discussed ongoing efforts and challenges. Ron mentioned the NSN as a source of requests for star parties. The awarding of pins for participation was also discussed.
d. Equipment Committee: The 16” telescope was sold for $1,300.00 and the transaction completed when Rob and Kirk Rogers delivered the telescope to the new owner. A mirror cell frame is also available for sale and potential price of $200.00 discussed along with a decorative Celestron telescope.
The SMA Brunswick Landing site office and shed is completed and dimensions allow for two telescopes and mounts to be stored along with other small items. The mounts will require dollies for moving in and out of the shed as well as to the potential viewing site on the property. Larger wheels on the dollies will be required due to the terrain. The shed is reported as being water profound not prone to floods. Insurance for these assets was briefly mentioned. C11 and 15” Dobsonian are on that site.
Acquiring assets for an Electronics Assisted Astronomy (EAA) program through a grant from the Bangor Savings Bank. Part of this may allow better imaging through a video camera that can project onto a screen and also transmit to digital devices such as cell phones when a WiFi connection is available. The grant deadline was 1/1/21. A decision should be made before 3/31/21.
e. Membership Committee: Al DiSabatino and Bob Dodge report SMA website access problems along with some issues with the Night Sky Network as a means of communication among SMA members. The electronic payment of dues has been in process with 24 members paying via the SMA website and 5-6 through standard mail route. Current membership is 46. Membership cards may no longer be need to be sent as these can be printed in PDF format from the website. Rob Burgess and Ron Thompson will meet with Al DiSabatino and Bob Dodge to discuss issues including student membership of $5.00 to allow recognition by the AL.
f. Treasurer’s Report: Ron Thompson acknowledged $1200.00 in gifts at the end of year, $1300.00 from the sale of the telescope, and reconciled bank balance of $8481.46. Large donations and membership dues may bring to total to ~$10,000.00.
The four categories of membership will be left unchanged and a donation option added to the SMA website. Adding the donation option helps with applying for grants by showing support within the community and membership as a 501C organization.
g. Fundraising Subcommittee: Rob Burgess, Bob Dodge, Ron Thompson, and Russell Pinizzotto have formed a Finance Committee subcommittee for fundraising looking into options for equipment (as needed), operational support and an endowment. The subcommittee has met three times, and has identified from the Maine Philanthropy Guide Maine foundations, and foundations who give in Maine, focused on science and technology. About three dozen entities have been identified. Draft language for foundation proposals is being developed, along with an elevator talk to be used when making an initial call to explain who we are and what we are seeking. Strategically, the subcommittee recommends not seeking more than $10,000 from any one donor. An endowment goal of $100,000 has been established that could generate recurring revenue for club operations of $5,000 per year.
Ron Thompson stated his intention of retiring from his long-held office as treasurer .