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SMA Board Minutes June 15th, 2022

· Board Minutes

SMA Directors’ Meeting Minutes

June 15, 2022

Via Zoom

7:00 pm 

In attendance: Directors Al DiSabatino, Russ Pinizzotto, Kevin Kane, Bob Dodge, Maame Andoh and Rob Burgess. A quorum was present. 

The minutes of the April 20, 2022 meeting were approved. 

Follow-Up on Action Items:

1. Kevin will act as point person for inquiries to website and otherwise and forward to appropriate parties in the club for response. ACTION ITEM: Have all permissions been given to Kevin to serve in this role?

2. Al, Russ and Bob will forward their survey forms to Kevin for consolidation

3. It was decided to sell the Questar and consider redeploying proceeds for other equipment, TBD, possibly an Interstellar EV scope or Stellina, to allow star party guests to get images on their phone.

4. Kevin and Rob went through the equipment in the shed and determined that two of the ETX telescopes were non-functioning (bad clutch and electrical short driving motors). The ETX 125 appears fully functional. The C-11 was missing an azimuth hand screw, a keypad, and an AC/DC power supply. (The azimuth screw and keypad, and a finder scope and bracket, were subsequently located.)  Separate plastic containers will be developed for all usable scopes so that all accessories, manuals, dew removal systems, etc. are consolidated in one place, per scope. 

Debrief on June 2 Meeting Open Discussion and June 11 Neptune Dr star party: It was the consensus that an open discussion is a good alternative for a formal speaker “every once in a while” (suggested, annually). It was recommended that only two or three topics be chosen and that the controversies to be discussed be prefaced to bring meeting attendees up to speed. It was also recommended ground rules be set to require speakers to be recognized by the moderator since jumping in on Zoom is difficult.  It was also suggested that meetings be “staffed” with someone following the chat so that questions and comment could be brought forward. There was also discussion about recording meetings and posting them on YouTube. Russ cautioned that fair use exemptions from copyright vanishes once the content is put into a platform like YouTube, so any posting would have to be carefully vetted so that copyrighted content was not shared without permission. ACTION ITEM: Follow up with Ara on capacity of website to support large video files. 

There were few comments on the star party other than there was good participation by members. Ara provided a great presentation on the scale of the galaxy. A suggestion by Dwight Lanpher at the event was that star parties in May, June and July might be limited to solar observing because of late sunsets. Rob emphasized that regular and timely publicity of these events is absolutely necessary to justify the effort in holding them. That did not happen for the June star party due to him except within the club and Google Groups. The club needs a formal, comprehensive and consistent promotion of its events through the Outreach Committee. 

Kevin indicated that to get younger people coming to our events requires presence on other social media sites such as Instagram. He offered to look into the platforms we should be on and how we might establish a nominal presence for publicizing our events. 

Program Committee:

Russ will follow up with Boston University Physics departments for speakers and there is a definite willingness to do so later in the fall. This includes the Haystack Astronomy Center in Western MA. He will also reach out to NASA’s speakers’ bureau and Space-X to see what they might be able to address. Russ confessed that in all his constellation talks he has not delved into mythology but that including some of that into future meetings might be well received by the membership. Bob suggested Russ reach out to Libby Bischoff at the Osher Map Library at USM who is well versed in constellation lore and the early maps of the cosmos. Howie reported to Rob previously that he has been in touch with UNH Astrophysicist Professor Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein who was open to speak to the club on some topic on cosmology. Kevin reported that after his cursory review of surveys he has received there is a pronounced interest in Astrophotography. It was suggested that Ara be asked to re-present his talk on astrophotography that he gave about 18 months ago.  Kevin also saw an interest in exoplanets and astrobiology. The Committee will reach out to George Bokinsky to see if he is ready to continue his talks on the topic. 

Rob reported Stella Ocker, PhD candidate at Cornell, will speak at our July meeting on the Interstellar Medium. He also noted Greg Shanos has offered to do a presentation later in the fall on observing the Mars opposition. At last month’s meeting Kerry will also reconnect with a few individuals he met at a robotic competition who had relevant careers in space science or engineering. ACTION ITEM: Program Committee to consult with all board and club members who have made speaker recommendations W and develop a Fall line up. 

Outreach Committee:

 Rob reported that a chair of the Committee still needed to be appointed.  The various suggestions of webpage additions were not discussed in the absence of all directors. Rob stated training by Ara on how to edit our webpage on Strikingly was needed so that all such work does not fall on him (Ara). ACTION ITEM: Rob to set up a time with Ara for basic training on editing Strikingly webpage.

 There was no update on the State Park Telescope Program in the absence of James.

 The JWST first light event is scheduled for July 12. Rob suggested a zoom meeting that would link to the NASA website but Al raised concerns that repeating a live feed over zoom may diminish its quality. [Subsequently, Rob contacted the JWST event organizers who suggested we simply promote the live link and let folks login directly. We might then do a follow up zoom meeting to share our reactions.] 

Dark Sky Committee: No report

Membership Committee:

Google Group participation among members remains spotty. Out of 71 members shown on NSN only 39 are on GG; two of the missing are Directors. ACTION ITEM:  Kevin and member Abby Gardiner will report back to the Board on recommendations to increase GG participation. We need to find a better way to sign up or recruit new members to join GG including the large number of current members who are not on GG. 

Al reported that some members are declining to be included in the NSN. That would impair our ability to send emails to our member only. The Membership Committee awaits Kevin’s and Abby’s suggestions on increasing sign-ups on various platforms. 

11th Director:  A name was suggested for the position and Rob will follow up with that person to see if he would be willing to serve. 

Equipment Committee:

See Follow-Up on Action Items, above. There was discussion and agreement about aftermarket equipment, particularly for dew removal on the club’s three SCTs. Celestron dew rings for the corrector plates, and bands for eyepieces, and required controllers, will be ordered. Equivalent dew bands for the eyepiece, finder scope and Telrad on the 15” Discover scope will also be obtained. A standard hair dryer will also be obtained to deal with dewed over equipment. It was also suggested we purchase a new Power Tank for our equipment and a Celestron cell phone holder to allow star party guests to capture images on their phones. 

ACTION ITEM: Equipment Committee to confirm list of products to be purchased and procure the equipment.  Report at next meeting. 

Treasurer’s Report/Finance Committee:

Bob reported $15,950.15. Al noted several new members but awaited transfer of information from Strikingly to PayPal to our account so this balance does not reflect those new members. 

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. ACTION ITEM: Rob to prepare a draft set of amendments for consideration at the next meeting.  If accepted, the requisite notice will then be provided to the membership. 

The meeting concluded about 9:00 p.m. 

Submitted by

Rob Burgess 

Next Directors’ Meetings for the year (all on Wednesdays at 7p.m. via Zoom): ​July 20, August 17, September 21, October 19, November 16, December 21