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SMA Board Minutes - July 17, 2021

· Board Minutes

In attendance: Directors Ara Jerahian, George Bokinsky, Al DiSabitino,  Forrest Sumner and RobBurgess and Club Members Paul Howell and Dwight Lanpher. Bob Dodge and JamesShields were unable to attend.  A quorum was present.

The minutes of the June 19, 2021 meeting were approved.

Acknowledgements: Rob thanked Ara and Paul for their work indeveloping the star image memorial to Kirk Rogers’ deceased grandson, NashRogers. The framed image was delivered to Kirk this week. Rob also thanked Ara and Paul for the EAAEquipment procedures manual, which is nearly final.  Robthanked Ron Thompson for his time in working with him to complete construction of the shed ramp.

Replacement Director for Scott – No update. Other club priorities have prevented thistask from getting completed.

Communications – internal & external – Paul has been working onan updated club brochure that is nearly in final form. Kerry’s school video was not discussed inKerry’s absence. Rob will follow up withhim. Rob raised two membershipimprovement ideas from a recent Reflectorarticle by the Raleigh, NC astronomy club: assigning an existing member asmentor to each new member to ensure a helpful and welcoming introduction to the club; and providing “Astronomy 101” intro courses for new members, off-cycle of club meetings, to teach some basics. Robfelt both undertakings would add value to the new member experience. He will follow up with Al regarding the MembershipCommittee’s looking into these ideas.

The Reflector article also described utilizing a Social MediaCoordinator. The Club has a Facebookpage set up and maintained by James Shields. Recently, James advised he had set up an Instagram page. He indicated, however, his time and expertisewere limited.  This would be a goodassignment to any teen members we might get.

Prior to the meeting Bob Dodgeindicated the club had purchased 100 SMA-logoed pens, 100 logoed small redflashlights, 100 planispheres (at only $2 each) and SMA stickers to attach to them indicating they came from the club. New member packets would include a welcome letter, planisphere and penand/or flashlight. Planispheres could besold as a modest fundraiser at star parties as was done in the past. One of our grant funders gave us $1,250 forplanispheres for distribution in schools. The club planispheres were purchased with club funds.

EAA Project – From the first draft of the procedures manual Araexpanded it comprehensively into a 13-page document complete images of hardwareconnections and screen shots of various key software applications. Paul added some finishing touches. Given the complexity it is expected thatinitially only a few members with imaging experience will form the cadre who can deliver the EAA star party experience. Rob will order the scope buggy so that the mount can be “permanently” onwheels, whether for the EAA equipment or the C-11.

Equipment – It was agreed that even if little used an equipmentlending program was worthwhile, in part as a recruiting tool for newmembers. It was agreed to that we wouldmaintain the two very portable Meade ETX 125 Maksutov-Cassegrain scopes (both donated) for the program. The club alsohas a manual C-8 on a wedge, a C-9.25 GPS/Go To, a new C-8 that could be loaned out or confined to club use alone. Itwas agreed that the newly donated C-11 would be retained for club star party use and that the boxed C-11 would be put up for sale. The other ETX scopes will also be offered forsale, along with the large Celestron tripod received from the Limington, ME estate. The fork mount that was part ofthat should be scrapped as the electronics are outdated. The Equipment Committee will also choosewhich of the many eyepieces it now has that can be sold at the Open House, or otherwise.

Summer Star Parties and Events –

a) ScarboroughLand Trust – James is working with the land trust for more of a “night hikewith stars” under a crescent moon on August 13/14. Because of parking the event will be limitedto about 10 attendees.

b) Children Museum (at Thompson’s Point) – James previouslyreported that at present there are no collaboration opportunities around their currentprograming, but communication channels will remain open.

c) Perseidsat Crystal Spring Farm – This star party is set for August 11/12. “Many” volunteers needed for assisting guestswith equipment questions, manning scopes, doing laser tours, manning aregistration table. This is jointlypromoted with the BTLT, with hundreds of members, who have attended in years past. This is the club’s marquee eventfor the year and we need to make a good showing.

d) ClubMembers Open House – rescheduled for Saturday, August 21, 3-5 p.m. Photo gallery at HQ will be in place, a newclub brochure, club swag for members. A“host committee” will be organized to cover final organizing of refreshments,table needs, chairs, setting up equipment for display. Certain equipment and excess eyepieces willbe for sale (see above); all other will be powered up for demonstration. Club lending equipment will bedisplayed. A club questionnaire will bedistributed.

e) GreatState of Maine Air Show – 35,000 people expected to attend Labor Dayweekend. Rob checked with the organizerand the commitment needed to be “inside the fence” is substantial such that wewill not attempt it. If we do anythingwe might simply be present at 179 Neptune or outside the gate to catch people coming and going. A potentially greatway to get exposure for the club.

f) MorseMountain – Moonlight String Quartet with Kallie Sugatski has beenrescheduled to Friday, August 13 in Phippsburg. Ms. Sugatski is a performance artist, hosting classical musical eventsin unusual locations and venues. SMA hasbeen asked to present with information about the moon as part of thisevent. Russ and Rob have previouslyexpressed a willingness to do so. Otherclub members are welcome to be part of this interesting experiment.

g) ALCON Virtual August 20-21 – the Clubagreed to contribute a $150 door prize to the AL for this virtual event. It was agreed to purchase a $150 giftcertificate from OPT since they have been very accommodating of our EAA projectwith discounts for us a non-profit. Robwill work with Bob to obtain the gift certificate and get it to AL.

h) State of Maine Star Party with DowneastAstronomers – August 27-28. A reminderwill be circulated to members.

i) LadyAdventurers – an outdoor adventure group that our partner Alicia Heyburn ofTeens to Trails is affiliated with has asked for a star party at Neptune Drivein the fall. This could also be an EAAevent.

Paul reminded everyone thatSeptember and February are out two most cloud-free months. He suggested that perhaps the club concentrateits outreach to the Sept/Oct time period, and perhaps again in February. The apparent increase in cloudiness has madeother star party times unreliable, requiring lots of effort to schedule andreschedule.

Program Committee and Club Meetings – Ed Gleason has been contactedby George and Rob and we await word on USM capabilities for hybrid zoom/livemeetings on campus. Ed confirmed thatinternet connectivity in the dome remains spotty so unless that infrastructure is improved the Planetarium would not be a good site for such meetings. We would like to continue to use thePlanetarium but will need to work out a more limited schedule once university capabilities are known.

George reported that he wasseeking out a speaker based on a new Astrobiology report from the University ofEdinburgh. Directors also discussedtrying to have some programs provided by members. There’s great talent in the club. We would like to maintain some balancebetween external and internal speakers.

Finance Report – On Bob’s behalf Robreported that the club treasury was $11,327.51, recently boosted by receipt of$2,500 of general support funds from the Worden Foundation. Other than rent and certain discretionary equipmentpurchases there are few other large expenses anticipated prior to year-end.

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

Endowment – Itwas formally voted to authorize the Treasurer and the President to open a newSavings Account at Bangor Savings Bank, the purpose of which is to hold funds for an endowment. It was agreed that aminimum of 40% of all new general support grants and proceeds from equipment sales will be placed in the account. Atsome point, as the account grows, a more formalized investment strategy will need to be developed and adopted that can increase earnings. Rob recommended that he and Bob develop a proforma budget and work to ensure the club’s checking account always has a minimum of one year’s operating expense coverage before making the initial deposit into the new savings account.

Shed Build-out – Upon further cost considerations and a willingnessof Rob and Ron to stick build a ramp, a wooden ramp, in two halves, has beenconstructed with ¾” plywood decking. Scraps from the plywood were used to build a total of 20’ of shelving,wasting little of these very expensive building materials. It will be available for use by the time ofthe open house. A red interior lightwill also be installed.

The meeting concluded about 10:30 a.m.

Submitted by

Rob Burgess