SMA Directors’ Meeting Minutes
June 19, 2021, 0900 via ZOOM
In attendance: Directors Rowan Goebel-Bain, Bob Dodge, Ara Jerahian, George Bokinsky, Al DiSabitino,
James Shields, Rob Burgess and Club Members Ron Thompson and Paul Howell. Forrest and Kerry were
both travelling and unable to attend. A quorum was present.
The minutes of the May 15, 2021 were approved.
Committee Reports – Rob characterized Al’s list of committee responsibilities as “institutional” duties as
distinct from many items on this agenda that are specific tasks needing to be addressed. Al’s list
addresses the large-scale concerns that must be focused on for good and sustainable functioning of the
club. Given that most agendas are dominated with “to do” tasks, it may behoove the Board to review
Al’s list perhaps twice a year to review priorities and ensure we are addressing them, rather than to
review the list at each meeting.
Replacement Director for Scott – Rob asked if any director had heard from any member about filling the
open board position. None so reported. Rob will pursue both woman members to see if either is
interested in serving.
Communications – internal & external
a) Members not on Google Groups – this is preventing effective internal communications. It was
stated we can add names to GG. We should do so that everyone is connected and only remove
names upon request. The Membership Committee should compare the membership list
against the GG list and add any missing email addresses.
b) Brochure for club – It was agreed the club should develop a new brochure – for the new
members welcome package, for distribution at star parties and other events. A brochure is a
necessary component of being an established organization. The emphasis will be on the human
side of enjoying the night sky together. Paul volunteered to draft a brochure and asked to
receive any images showing people at star parties, in gatherings, etc. We will also explore
purchasing an image from the PPH at the solar eclipse.
c) Kerry’s school promo slideshow/video – deferred until Kerry would attend the meeting.
d) Website feedback – Ara indicated we were able to activate GG or Strikingly metrics to chronicle
visits to our sites and from where they were coming. It was agreed to review these numbers
periodically to help assess how people are interacting with us and the intensity of hits.
e) Star Party Handouts – Bob ordered 100 pens with our logo at about $1.50 each. We can include
these in new member welcome packages and judiciously give out at star parties and other public
events. It was also agreed to supplement the welcome package with a planisphere. We also
agreed to ask new members for their particular sub-interests so as to advise us on topics we
should try to address. The Membership Committee should determine how we gather this
information from new members.
EAA Project – Rob reported that he, Ara, Paul and Bob met on zoom for two hours walking through set
up and operational procedures to use our new equipment. Rob prepared a first draft of a manual. Ara
and Paul will refine that draft. Late sunsets are currently hampering our desire to have our first live star
party with the new equipment. If the club receives the promised C-11, we should be able to use that
mount for the EAA OTA and cancel our order for a new mount, saving the club $1,500.
Partial Annular Solar Eclipse – event was debriefed. There were few details from Cape Elizabeth other
than “more than one hundred” people were present. The only club member present was Kerry,
although he did not have any instruments or eclipse glasses. The Eastern Prom location had “more than
one hundred” attendees as well, but they were strung out over a half mile of vantage points. Press was
there providing some great images and good coverage with mention of SMA. Rob was also interviewed
on Ch 8 and Ch 6 and made a good connection with Mike Slipher, a weatherman for Ch 6. Mike was
enthused to find out there was a local astronomy club indicating there will be opportunities for
collaboration on future events. Overall, it was great SMA was present at an event of this significance.
Good conversations occurred with attendees. Thanks to James, George, Bob and club member Brad
Irish for attending. Hindsight observations: focus local energies on one location; prepare better in terms
of locating needed items (eclipse glasses). Next event, April, 2024.
Summer Star Parties
a) Scarborough Land Trust – James is working with the land trut for more of a “night hike with
stars” under a crescent moon on August 13. Because of parking the event will be limited to
about 10 attendees.
b) Children Museum (at Thompson’s Point) – James is exploring collaboration opportunities around
their show (a play) on Apollo 11.
c) Perseids at Crystal Spring Farm – Rob will discuss with BTLT about attempting another star party
for the Perseids.
d) Flight Deck Brewing event – this might be coordinated with an open house – bringing a scope or
two to their outdoor seating area for some “brews and views.”
e) Open House – agreed to hold an event for club members only first; then something for the
public at a later date. It would be good to have our photo gallery in place and our brochure
done beforehand. Paul has recently revived an old large format printer than can produce great
images for the club. Rob will check on parking with the landlord. Bob suggested we develop a
social committee to plan the event, not only for refreshments but also to develop a
questionnaire for members relating to the telescope lending program among other topics. Rob
will work with the Membership Committee to address this.
f) Great State of Maine Air Show – 35,000 people expected to attend Labor Day weekend. Rob will
explore ability to get inside the gate where we could showcase the club. If that is not possible
we might simply be present at 179 Neptune or outside the gate to catch people coming and
going. A potentially great way to get exposure for the club.
g) Morse Mountain – Rob had nothing to report on an earlier request that has gone dormant
regarding a star party and poetry event.
Media Contact List –There was no follow-up discussion about acquiring a YouTube account for this and
other uses. Bob will explore the costs of a channel with and without ads.
Club Meetings – Rob reported that the planetarium is back and available for our use. He also reported
that if the club were to purchase a flat screen TV for zoom meetings in the dome Ed Gleason said he
could store it for us. A majority felt the Planetarium was not good for zoom meetings, questioned
connectivity issues and felt that we should try to secure a lecture hall or other room where we might
gather but still utilize zoom to bring in speakers. An interactive zoom meeting room on campus would
be ideal if USM has such a facility. There is definitely a wow factor for new people coming to an SMA
meeting in the planetarium, and it certainly distinguished us as the only club to have such a resource st
our disposal. However, it was felt we are under-utilizing it presently and that the physical and technical
limitations of outweighed the advantages. It was suggested that we have our annual meeting or holiday
gathering in the planetarium and that we develop our own program for such an event such a tour of the
southern sky or demonstrations of light pollution’s impact. The Program Committee will need to meet
with Ed Gleason about our intended use, the use of other lecture hall space, etc. There was also a
strong case made for the value of zoom meetings. It was agreed that club meetings would continue to
be via zoom until capabilities and room availability at USM was discussed with Ed Gleason. (Subsequent
to the meeting Ron reported that the Planetarium holds 50 people and that the Zeiss projector was
completely rebuild and refurbished within the last 7-8 years by Zeiss technicians from Germany in
anticipation of a meeting of planetarium operators that took place in Portland.)
Finance Report – Bob reported that with the close out of the prior bank account and funds being
deposited at BSB, the club has $7,939 in the treasury after payment of the AL dues and prepayment of
three month’s rent. There are 53 members, most ever. If we can avoid having to purchase a mount for
the EAA program there would be about $1500 available forf wish list items including dollies, dew
heaters/dew shields, etc. that should be purchased eventually. There will also be some shed build-out
Grant Submissions – Rob reported that the $5,000 request of the LL Bean Charitable Giving Program
was unsuccessful. A $6,000 request of the Simmons Foundation was partially successful with a grant of
$1,250 to be used for educational materials relating to our outreach efforts to schools (planisphere
purchase). Two other $7,500 requests for general operating support are pending with the Mimi
Foundation and with the James & Betty Jacobs Family Charitable Trust. The Committee will attempt to
get at least one new grant request out per month.
Shed Build-out - it was agreed to look to purchase aluminum wheelchair ramps for the shed. They come
in various lengths. Two would be needed, side by side. These would be lightweight, weather-resistant
and easy to store. The rough opening to the shed is 74”. Because of the door design, there is a loss of
1.5” to 2”, per side, to account from door framing. As a result, the ramps would need to attach just
below the finish floor grade to allow for door swing.
The meeting concluded about 11:30 a.m.