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SMA Board Minutes July 20th, 2022

· Board Minutes


SMA Directors’ Meeting Minutes

July 20, 2022

Via Zoom

7:00 pm 

In attendance: Directors Al DiSabatino, Kevin Kane, Bob Dodge, Maame Andoh, Ara Jerahian, Kerry Kertes and Rob Burgess. Also joining the meeting were members Forrest Sumner, David Gay and Ted Hebert. Directors James Shields, Howie Marshall and Russ Pinizzotto could not attend due to prior commitments. A quorum was present. 

The minutes of the June 15, 2022 meeting were approved. 

Follow-Up on Action Items:

a. Kevin receiving all admin permissions to serve as point of contact for all inquiries to club. Ara added Kevin so that he should now receive all inquiries and can then farm them out.

b. Confirm with Ara website’s capacity to handle large video files.  It does not; a YouTube channel needs to be set up. Ara/Kevin will link it to our webpage.  Rob was reminded to clear recording of the meeting with any speakers in case they may have information not yet ready for release.  We will also limit the searchable nature of our posting on YouTube for now

c. Program Committee to consult with all members who have made speaker recommendations to help develop a fall line up. Kerry will reach out to his sources about speaking at a future meeting. Rob to supply him with the names he previously provided.

d. Rob to set time with ARA on Strikingly tutorial for editing webpage. Ara will provide a short video on accessing and editing our webpage so others can do so. Kevin is already gaining experience with editing the site.

e. Kevin and Abby to recommend how to increase GG participation among members. Kevin suggested possibly making the GG button on our website bigger to draw attention to it, along with a clearer explanation of why it’s important to sign up – on the site and in on-boarding communications to new members.

f. Equipment Committee to confirm accessory products to be ordered for club scopes. Rob reported on what had been ordered and received. The Celestron dew rings are all back-ordered.

g. Rob to develop draft bylaws amendments. Rob forgot to circulate the changes as part of this meeting’s agenda, although they were previously circulated.  He will do so before the next meeting so that notice can be given to members and the board can address final proposals at its September meeting. 

Debrief on July 9 Neptune Dr star party: The star party drew more members than expected several of whom brought scopes. Overall, an estimated 30 persons were in attendance throughout the event. Skies were clear but the moon was bright.  Ron provided two sessions on the JWST. Also in attendance was Troy Bennett, a photojournalist from the Bangor Daily News who provided a great story of the event that appeared on page 1 of the BDN on July 12. A copy of the article will be posted on our website. ACTION ITEM: It was agreed we need to get our publicity out weeks in advance to hit the various media outlets sufficient to meet their deadlines. Rob and Maame will be working on this for future star parties and meetings. Ron provided two informative talks on the James Webb Space Telescope for the “lecture portion” of the star party. 

Program Committee:

A fall/winter line up of speakers needs to be determined. Several irons are in the fire as to possible programs. ACTION ITEM: Program Committee to report at August meeting.

Outreach Committee:

 ACTION ITEM: Kevin and Ara to create a non-searchable YouTube channels for the club with links from the webpage to provide edited recordings of club meetings, focusing on the formal presentation.

 The Club hosted a short zoom meeting of members following the NASA JWST first images release on July 12. About a dozen members joined in a discussion following the NASA presentation.

 Ara reported that some of his astrophotography images will be part of a gallery exhibit on nature photography opening Saturday, July 23 at Zero Station in Portland from 5-8 p.m. The gallery would also like to coordinate an EAA program at a future date.

 Future events scheduled or under discussion include the following:

o July 22 – Bradbury Mtn – James

o Neptune Dr. Star Party Saturday, August 13. Jon will provide the “lecture portion” of the program discussing meteor showers. Volunteers are needed. Please contact Jon or Rob.

o Cumberland Library Star Party Thursday, August 25 (Greg Thorup to ccordinate)

o Neptune Dr. Star Parties – Sept 10, Oct 8 and Nov 12

o Maine’s First Ship – Nautical themed event for Saturday, Sept 24 in Bath

o Maine Coast Heritage Trust – Woodward Point (Brunswick) star party – tentative date 10/29

 Rob to “sign up” club with that can point persons interested in some form of astronomical observing event for families, experiential tourism or business groups to SMA. No obligation by SMA to undertake to fulfill the request unless we choose to do so. It is contemplated that a fee would be charged for the service. 

Dark Sky Committee: 

Ara reported seeing the Dark Sky observing sites handout prepared by the Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust while visiting Rangeley recently. Rob shared this with the club last summer and thought it could serve as a useful tool in our footprint. Our earlier member survey was to gather suggestions for such sites. ACTION ITEM: Dark Sky Committee to complete project with even a short list of publicly-accessible dark sky sites throughout the SMA footprint, to be posted on our website. 

Membership Committee:

See Action Item (above) regarding ways to improve GG and NSN participation by members. Modest webpage redesign, along with revised welcome letter for on-boarding new members was recommended. Kevin, Al, Rob and Ara to pursue required changes. ACTION ITEM: Report back at August Director’s meeting on revised welcome letter instruction and website redesign. 

11th Director: Rob reported that he had extended an invitation to a member to consider joining the board and was awaiting a response . 

Equipment Committee:

Rob reported that dew removal systems had been ordered for four club scopes – the three Celestron SCTs and the Dob. Dew ring heaters for the corrector plates of each scop are on backorder. Heat tapes for 1.25” and 2” eyepieces have been obtained for each scope, along with a Telrad heater for the Dob. Four dew heater controls were purchased along with three Celestron 7 ah Power Tanks (to supplement one already owned by the club) to power these units in the field. Total cost was approximately $1,215. Individual plastic boxes containing all power cords and accessories, including operating manuals, have been prepared for each scope. A small hair dryer was also purchased to deal with sudden dew problems.  

The sale of the Questar was also discussed. Ara will get it on the market as soon as possible. 

Rob raised the question as to whether or not a new EV scope might be purchased. It was decided to operate proficiently with the equipment we have for now. If an EV scope is needed, seek grant funding first before expending club funds. 

Treasurer’s Report/Finance Committee:

Bob reported $13,481 in the club account, down nearly $2,500 from last month. In addition to the equipment purchase expense cited above the club also paid $450 to the AL for members, prepaid our rent through September 30 at $450, and renewed our strikingly license for two years for $336.  

Bylaws Changes:

Rob reported there were a few areas where bylaws changes were needed. These included 1) consideration of a proposal to waive membership fees for those members over 90; 2) pro-rating membership dues, perhaps by quarter; 3) define a student membership to include any full-time student at any level; 4) miscellaneous grammatical corrections. There seemed to be little appetite for an age-based membership waiver. Proration of membership dues generated a fair amount of discussion although our Stripe electronic payment system wouldn’t work to record a new member if less than the full amount of dues was tendered. More discussion to follow at the August meeting. 

The meeting concluded about 8:30 p.m. 

Submitted by

Rob Burgess 

Next Directors’ Meetings for the year (all on Wednesdays at 7p.m. via Zoom):  August 17, September 21, October 19, November 16, December 21