SMA Board Minutes, March 15th 2023

SMA Directors’ Meeting Minutes


March 15, 2023

Via Zoom

7:00 pm



In attendance: Directors Al DiSabatino, Carson Hanrahan, Howie Marshall, Bob Dodge, Kerry Kertes, Russ Pinizzotto and Rob Burgess and members Jeremy Wright, George Bokinsky, Greg Thorup, Henry Duquette and Dwight Lanpher.  A quorum was present.


The minutes of the February 15, 2023 meeting were approved.  



Follow-Up on Action Items and Committee Reports: 


Program Committee:  Russ & Maame

  • There was no discussion on hands-on assistance options or advice for buying telescopes for our website.  ACTION ITEM: Hold-over to next meeting.
  • April – Russ after the meeting reported that Aaron Clevenson (sp?) of the AL will discuss observing programs.
  • May – Dr. Bischoff of the Osher Map Library at USM addressing ancient celestial maps
  • June – TBD
  • July – Greg Shanos will discuss eclipse observing and photographing preparation and techniques
  • August – Dr. Heidi DeBlock on the physiological rigors of long space flight
  • September – TBD
  • October – TBD
  • November – TBD
  • December – TBD

The Board approved Russ Pinizzotto as the Astronomical League liaison and Observing Program Coordinator for SMA.



Outreach Committee:  Kerry & Carson

There was extensive discussion of the upcoming star party season.  The schedule below was confirmed



March 25 7-9pm


April 22 7-9 – home schooler group (perhaps 20?) expected to attend


May 20 8-10




June          Family Fun day - Cape Elizabeth  - likely to be June 17

July                TBD – we originally looked at proposing something to LLBean.  They offered Monday, 4/17, Patriots Day.  The Outreach Committee will promote within the club to see if sufficient volunteers can be found



August 19     8-10pm

Sept 16     7-9

October 21   7-9

November 18   7-9


Kerry and Carson reported that the volunteer sign up form on our site had garnered volunteers but we need to continue to promote that as we seek volunteers for future events.  The Committee also discussed points reviewed at the February meeting, including:

  • Having a Leader for each program
  • Having one laser-pointer operator
  • Having one speaker who would offer his/her talk twice in the evening to spread out attendees (due to room size and  to accommodate late arrivers)
  • To carefully limit the running time of each talk to about 20 minutes
  • To track volunteer hours to qualify for the AL Outreach pin
  • To get a core amount of club equipment checked out and fully operational and to develop cheat sheets for each item to enable more volunteers to jump in and operate the equipment
  • To develop a list of items to be observed, with factual annotations to help explain objects being shown
  • To print off current month SkyMaps to give out to attendees and to incorporate them into the laser pointer tour and outside observing. (We decided to start with 40 copies and increase the number if needed.)
  • Refreshments would be determined on an event-by-event basis if a volunteer could be found to procure snacks and drinks
  • An additional 6’ table will be purchased for the greeting area
  • Howie will procure red LED lights/”rope” for lighting stairs to rear of building
  • Light shield delivered to MRRA for installation on light by edge of our parking lot


Kerry reported he is following up with all organizations that have requested SMA star parties to get more details to determine if they are something we can accommodate.  ACTION ITEM: report at next meeting on discussions and commitments.


CARRY-OVER ACTION ITEM:  Kerry reported that a Scarborough High sophomore who is involved in the computer and robotics program, and A/V, is working on assembling the pictures and text into a 4 min scrolling exposition of SMA.


2024 Total Eclipse – Rob raised for discussion the establishment of a subcommittee to thee Outreach Committee to prepare for April 8, 2024.  There was discussion about doing something in the Portland area (97% eclipsed) and also organizing a field trip to good observing sites in totality.  The Eclipse Subcommittee would deal with such logistics, obtaining permissions to use sites, determining the number of eclipse glasses to order, starting to work with local media so we are a go-to source and trusted advisor, etc.  Rob also noted that the Astronomical Society of the Pacific is sponsoring a program called “Eclipse Ambassadors off the Path” to help with programs for all those observers not in totality.  Rob recommended we participate.


Serving Attendees with Disabilities – Shay Bellas of Navitour is implementing a grant to help outside organizations open their activities to people with disabilities.  It is a short training program to raise awareness and offer ways to accommodate various disabilities.  Rob will follow up with Shay.


Dark Sky Committee:  Rob, Howie, Jeremy Wright and Paul Howell

  • Rob reported that MRRA has agreed to install the shield on the streetlight at Neptune Drive and he delivered it to them.  
  • Observing Sites within Footprint:  Howie reported only two suggestions had been received so again asked Directors for their suggestions.  It was noted that we can start with a handful and build from there.  Once it is on the website it will draw attention to itself and other suggestions will likely emerge to expand the list.  Howie emailed all directors the checklist of features to comment on.
  • Rob encouraged directors to see the recent email from new member Russell Clark about their side-by-side display in Bath of streetlights at various color temperatures.  Rob will reach out to Russell to try to find a time to visit and will report to the Board and to Dwight who wants to get spectroscopic readings.  Dwwight will also collaborate with Howie on Harpswell’s new streetlight.
  • Rob reported on a Dark Sky Maine meeting that he attended (as did Dwight) on 1/19/23.  As a result of that meeting Rob recommended an Action Plan to DSM to move beyond simply educating about the problem of light pollution to a role of organizing among astronomy clubs in Maine for action.  Rob (and Dwight) plan to attend the DSM meeting on 3/17 and will report back. 


Membership Committee: Al and Kevinundefined

  • Previously, Al reported memberships peaked at 107.  Paid membership as of 3/15/23 had reduced to 77, with five of those being new members.  If counting two honorary memberships and two deferred special purpose memberships, the membership number increases.  Non-renewing members were given the initial notice and two follow-up notices, and in some cases a phone call or text.  These names will be removed from our active membership list on NSN, but will be retained on a separate list in the case of a late renewal.  With this number now determined, and the bylaws indicating we need 25% of the membership to constitute a quorum for annual meeting purposes, we need at least 20 members to attend the April meeting. 
  • CARRY OVER ACTION ITEM: Membership Committee to consider and propose ideas for a new member buddy system.  


Equipment Committee: Ara & Kevin

  • Neither member of the Equipment Committee could attend the meeting so there were no updates on the Questar sale, or the Maine Coast Waldorf School observatory proposal. 
  • Rob suggested it would be helpful to get a few pictures of equipment we have to lend to add to our website as a way to encourage member use and showcase another benefit of SMA membership.
  • The new autofocuser was purchased and will be added back to the EAA scope optical train.
  • CARRY OVER ACTION ITEM: Equipment Committee to assess equipment, identify star party equipment and make sure it is in working order, and, as needed, prepare cheat sheet instructions to enable other volunteers with less experience to set up and use the equipment.  Identify other instruments to be sold, given away, or disposed of. 


Treasurer’s Report/Finance Committee: Bob

Bob reported $16,694.08 after the $1500 donation from the Feder Foundation and new memberships. 


Executive Committee: Rob, Ara, Bob, Russ

  • Rob was happy to report that Jeremy Wright has agreed to be on the slate of members recommended for election by our Nominating Committee of Kevin and Howie at our annual meeting on 4/6/23.
  • CARRY OVER ACTION ITEM: Directors’ pictures and bios are needed for the website.
  • The In Memoriam tab was set up by Kevin.
  • Rob recommended a number of housekeeping changes on the website that he will take up with Kevin and Ara.
  • It was agreed to reprint club brochures as recently amended by Paul.  We decided against printing business cards as Al will print off as many personalized cards as Directors want.  Just provide your desired text to Al.


Other – Several members are planning a trip to NEAF on April 14/15.  Please contact Ara if interested.


The meeting ended about 9:00 p.m.



Submitted by


Rob Burgess



Next Directors’ Meetings (all on Wednesdays at 7p.m. via Zoom):  

  • April 19
  • May 17
  • June 21