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SMA Board Minutes September 21st, 2022

· Board Minutes

SMA Directors’ Meeting Minutes

September 21, 2022

Via Zoom

7:00 pm 

In attendance: Directors Al DiSabatino, Kevin Kane, Bob Dodge, Ara Jerahian, Howie Marshalland Rob Burgess. Also joining the meeting was member John O’Donnell. A quorum was present. 

The minutes of the August 17, 2022 meeting were approved, with a correction relating to the dates cited for the future club star parties at Neptune Drive. The corrected dates were October 8 and November 12. 

Follow-Up on Action Items:

a. Program Committee - ideas/progress on hands-on telescope workshop for newbies; timing;had no report as no members of the Program Committee were present.

b. Outreach Committee - Kerry & Rob to report on plan to administer Neptune Drive star parties through year end/ 2023. Rob reported that he and Kerry had not met to find a star party czar for 2023 but had been managing securing sufficient volunteers with frequent emails. Ideally, the position slots Jon Wallace originally mapped out would be the template for filling positions for 2023 star parties.

c. Outreach Committee – Kerry to report on school film loop; gather sample from school librarian. With Kerry’s absence there was no update.

d. Dark Sky Committee – report on development of first short list of observing sites within footprint: The purpose of the Dark Sky Sites list was discussed – it is designed to identify places where individuals of small groups might be able to assemble to enjoy some dark sky observing. It is not intended to be a list of places where SMA might offer star parties, although depending upon the site, that might be possible. Howie discussed Mitchell Field in Harpswell. John suggested that contacting local chambers of commerce might generate some suggestions given the local chambers’ familiarity with their communities.

e. Membership Committee – Al, Kevin & Rob to report on proposed revisions to member onboarding. Rob reported that of 86 members in the club only 45 were on Goggle Groups, which clearly impedes communication within the club. There continues to be a need to review onboarding instructions to new members to improve participation in GG.

f. Membership Committee – Bob will connect with LL Bean to see if individual orders are possible under an SMA umbrella so as to keep him out of the middle of the process, or if individual orders through conventional ordering, seeking a SMA logo to be added, was possible. Since hats are popular Bob will review a hat order and report back. 

Debrief on September 10 Community BBQ and Neptune Dr star party: Ron and Rob hosted a SMA table and solar viewing at the Community BBQ, interacting with about 150 of the crowd of as many as 1,000 people who attended over a period of about four hours. The club star party later that evening saw about 50 guests and about 14 club members in attendance. Manning a welcome table proved effective. Rob provided refreshments. Several of the other suggestions still need to be implemented but there was positive progress in creating a better guest experience. 

Program Committee: 

The Program Committee is building out the fall line up with the following speakers:

 October 6: Tara Roberts Zabriskie, filmmaker and director of “Defending the Dark” on the effects of light pollution.

 November 3: Thad Comacek, Professor of Astronomy, UMaryland – planet atmospheresfrom Hot Jupiters to rocky planets 

 December 1: Greg Shanos, “Mars 2022 – An Observer’s Guide” 

Outreach Committee:

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

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

 Neptune Dr star parties: October 8, November 12

 Short talk on astronomy and dark skies at Patagonia Store in Freeport – Oct 7, 6:30 pm, in concert with the Natural Resources Council of Maine and Dark Sky Maine, with showing of the film Defending the Dark.

 Rob reported he had received requests by the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust and Teens to Trails for star parties. KELT sought a star party in conjunction with their annual meeting in late September. With all the club’s other commitments this offer was declined with the suggestion that we might be able to so something with KELT in 2023. The Teens to Trails gathering in Winthrop was happening in early October. For the above reasons, in terms of existing commitments, and the distance to Winthrop for our volunteers, it was declined. I encouraged them to have interested Teens to Trails students to attend one of our Neptune Drive star parties. We will also remain open to special events for them in 2023. 

 Under consideration for support by the club:


BDA Fundraising Auction item – possible star party for group or business at Neptune Drive; Auction date is Oct 20


Family Fun Day in Cape Elizabeth at end of school year 2023 (Kerry to liaise – huge potential audience) 

Dark Sky Committee: 

Rob reported that Dwight Lanpher had been a huge help in securing a shield for the light at Neptune Drive. Dwight has also been in contact with the Utilities Manager at MRRA. Dwight has offered to pay for the shield as a donation; the club may have to bear the cost of installation. TBD 

Rob needs to have a discussion with MCHPP about their loading bay light on star party nights. 

Rob made some good connections with the principals of Dark Sky Maine – Nancy Hathaway, Shawn Laatch and Joh Meader – while attending the Stars Over Katahdin event on 9/17/22 near the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. Rob was one of the speakers at the Campfire Chats preceding the star party. 

As a result of this connection Rob has arranged to have the Defending the Dark movie shown at the Brunswick and Cumberland Libraries early in 2023. 

Membership Committee:

 Rob officially notified the Board of James Shields’ resignation from the Board due to his commitment to the Boy Scouts. James’ service will be acknowledged at the next club meeting. Rob reported that Carson Hanrahan had agreed to fill the 11th director position. Upon a motion and second to appoint Carson his acceptance as a new director was unanimously approved. 

 Rob proposed we offer free memberships to any student member of Teens to Trails as a way to boost student members and as a way to cement ties to Teens to Trails. Ara indicated there was a way through Stripe to record a new membership without the payment of a fee. Al reminded the Board that we would still be subject to pay a $5 fee to the Astronomical League.  Upon discussion, this recommendation was approved. 

Equipment Committee:

 Rob reported that dew ring heaters for the corrector plates of each scope have been received. Having been reordered through Amazon. Rob installed the 9.25 ring on that scope but the other rings need to be installed.

 Rob reported he had secured each leg of the EAA scope to the dolly with bungee cords but emphasized it was not a foolproof solution. A warning sign needs to be added to the scope stating that moving it in or out of the shed was a two-person operation. Ara has not had a chance to evaluate the scope to see if there was any serious damage.

 Ara has the Questar listed on Cloudy Nights for $4,750.  

Treasurer’s Report/Finance Committee:

Bob reported $13,463.531, with little change from last month. New membership dues await transfer to our account from PayPal.  Rob also reported that Teens to Trails’ lease at Neptune Drive was up for renewal at the end of September. Alicia Heyburn said she opened a discussion with the landlord. Although a rent increase is possible, the fact that Tom Wright had not noticed an intent to increase the rent perhaps means there will be no rent increase. 

Bylaws Changes:

A redlined version of the bylaws was included with the agenda for the meeting. After brief discussion there were no other suggested modifications to the bylaws. Accordingly, notice to the membership will go out more than 14 days before the October Board meeting so that the amendments can be voted on at the October Board meeting. 

The meeting concluded about 8:20 p.m. 

Submitted by

Rob Burgess 

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

October 19 

November 16 

December 21