SMA Directors’ Meeting Minutes
May 15, 2021
179 Neptune Dr., Brunswick, ME
In attendance: Directors Kerry Kertes, Rowan Goebel-Bain, Bob Dodge, Ara Jerahian, George Bokinsky, Rob Burgess and Club Members Ron Thompson and Dwight Lanpher. A quorum was present.
This was a momentous meeting in that it was the first live meeting in 14 months since COVID and it was the first in the conference space at our new location at Brunswick Landing.
The minutes of the April 17, 2021 were approved.
Committee Reports – Rob asked all committee chairs to refer to Al’s list of committee priorities and to be prepared to discuss their committee’s tasks and priorities at the next meeting.
Replacement Director for Scott – Rob asked for suggestions from directors for active members who might be willing to step up to replace Scott. It was suggested the board would benefit from a woman member and perhaps a teacher. Rob will reach out to possible candidates.
EAA Project – Feedback was requested regarding the last club meeting regarding the EAA demonstration. It was all very positive. It was suggested that perhaps attempting only two targets per event would work better, and perhaps concentrating on one constellation. Infrastructure needs at Neptune Drive still need to be assessed. The club should also consider putting the EAA equipment on a dolley to simplify set up. The only missing item for EAA is a mount that is on backorder from OPT. Ara brought the entire set up on his mount and discussed the equipment and how it functioned. Concern was expressed about use of our large screen in the event of any wind during a star party. There was discussion about possibly using a large computer monitor or TV, which might also be used for zoom participation once we can return to the planetarium for meetings. Rob will work with Ara to develop operational instructions for the equipment so as to facilitate training of volunteers capable of running the program. A first live audience trial will be held in Ara’s neighborhood for his neighbors, at a date TBD in the near future. It will be advertised to the whole club as well. Rob provided an outline of needs/member support for the EAA project, from running the equipment to developing seasonal star party targets and texts, to registering guests. These tasks all need to be staffed by volunteers. The EAA committee will continue its efforts to attract volunteers.
Partial Annular Solar Eclipse – June 10 – Fort Williams in Cape Elizabeth as a site will be explored by Kerry who knows personnel there. The Eastern Prom was also considered due to its elevation and horizon views. Ron offered to explore with Cornerstones if libraries still had eclipse glasses from 2017. Concern was expressed about ensuring that anything we might get not be counterfeit glasses that got into circulation prior to the last eclipse. The Outreach Committee will report back on its recommendations for an event location.
Summer Star Parties – James is working with Cornerstones on some events and will report back. A solar star party was also recommended. The club now owns a Lunt solar scope, recently purchased from Ron Thompson. Members were reminded of the Maine State Star Party at Cobscook Bay State Park in Downeast Maine in late August and were urged to consider attending. Dwight has attended several and spoke very highly of the sky quality and camaraderie of the event.
Media Contact List – James has a list that will be provided. Kerry reported that through contacts at Scarborough High School we could prepare a looping 3-5 minute photo journal/ slideshow of SMA activities, showcasing our activities, equipment and members. Once done it could be distributed throughout school systems around the state to promote SMA. Rob suggested we also approach public access cable in our footprint communities to run the promo. There was also discussion about acquiring a YouTube account for this and other uses. Bob will explore the costs of a channel with and without ads.
Speakers for meetings – George reported that Dr. Catherine Zucker will speak at the June meeting and Rowan stated Dr. David Batuski from UMO will join us in July. We agreed to not hold an August meeting and instead direct everyone to the Astronomical League’s virtual ALCON meeting August 19-21. SMA is supporting the meeting by making a $150 gift card donation to an astronomy vendor as a door prize. More details of the meeting and speakers will be circulated once received.
Finance Report – Bob reported that with the close out of the prior bank account and funds being deposited at BSB, the club has about $8,500 in the treasury. After payment for the EAA mount of about $1600, we will still have just under $7,000. There are still a number of wish list items including dolleys, dew heaters/dew shields, etc. that should be purchased eventually. There will also be some shed build-out expenses. Rob reported the club had 51 paid memberships, the highest in club history.
Grant Submissions – Rob reported that two funding requests are pending with Maine Foundations: $6,000 from the Simmons Foundation and $5,000 from the LL Bean Charitable Giving Program. A decision from Simmons is expected soon. The Committee will be attempting to get at least one new grant request out per month.
Open House – Not discussed. Plans need to be developed for a club gathering and later for the general public.
Shed Issues – Ron reported new insurance has been obtained providing liability coverage and up to $20,000 for loss of equipment. The meeting then adjourned outside. Previously, observing site behind the building and in the parking lot were visited. The shed discussion focused on ways to secure the doors from wind (an elegant, simple and virtually free solution was found!), what could be done to beef up the lock, ways to weatherproof the seam between the doors and how to build a removable ramp. Kerry Kertes offered the services of his son who is handy for the ramp construction. Ramp and interior shelving could cost between $200 and $250 depending upon choices.
The meeting concluded about 12:30 p.m.