Outreach / Star Parties / Solar Viewing


    SMA is a community of interested professional and amateur astronomers, exchanging ideas and information at meetings, through Google Groups and the Night Sky Network. As a member of the International Dark Sky Association and Dark Sky Maine, SMA is actively involved in fighting light pollution and preserving our dark Maine skies.


    SMA Club members provide advanced astronomical equipment and mentorship to members, students and the general public interested in astronomy. We also plan for star parties where naked eye, binocular, and telescope viewing take place with the support of trained volunteers.


    Also, SMA has partnered with "Cornerstones of Science" and the Library Telescope Program, recently changed to the STAR Program; Sharing Telescopes And Resources. We modify telescopes, provide assistance, hands-on training and mentoring for the staff at participating Libraries.


    SMA’s monthly meetings feature occasional lectures by experts in astronomy, "what's up" this month, discussions among members and member presentations.


    All regular monthly meetings will be by ZOOM, until further notice.

    Contact us for ZOOM details.


  • Events

    Outreach and other public events

    You can also see our events calendar on the NASA's Night Sky Network!

    SMA Monthly Club Meeting (ZOOM Only)

    UPCOMING - Thursday, May. 5, 2022, 7pm. Social "half-hour" starts at 6:30pm.

    We have a very interesting presentation planned by Prof. Atul Bhat entitled “Star & Constellations from the Indian Sub-continent.”


    Club Director James Shields connected with Prof Bhat through some serendipitous internet wanderings and invited Prof Bhat to one of our meetings. He liked the club and offered to talk to us at some future date – and here we are.


    Atul Bhat has a Masters degree in Physics from Jain University, India (2015), and has been actively promoting astronomy to the public since 2016. He currently is working at Poornaprajna College, Udupi, India as an Assistant Professor in Physics with a particular interest in solar prominences.


    Currently Atul is involved in the Poornaprajna Amateur Astronomers Club (PAAC), which has become the hub for Amateur Astronomy in the Coastal district of Udupi, which is on the southwest coast of India. As part of this, he publishes beautiful info-graphics, in English and Hindi, about astronomical events, as well as astronomical crossword puzzles, and connect the dot star charts for kids. During the Eclipse of Dec 2019, which swept across the southern tip of India, Atul was involved in carrying out eclipse awareness at over 200 schools in Karnataka and reached out to 1000 schools across India. PAAC instructed students how to safely watch and enjoy the eclipse. (Talk about outreach!)

    Title: Stars and Constellations from the Indian Sub-continent.


    While the world follows the Gregorian calendar system, Indians follow two calendar systems - the Solar and the Lunisolar. These calendars are designed through various observations of the night sky, noting the position of the Moon and Sun around which festivals and events are celebrated, which are a major part of Indian culture. Using bright stars, the calendar systems were designed in a way similar to the Greeks, with mythologies and stories, which today, help us understand the beauty of the night sky. This talk is about those ancient beliefs and astronomical events and how they influenced astronomy on the subcontinent.


    We will also have club news and events, member feedback from the last month and a wonderful talk by Russ Pinizzotto on Galaxy Observing in Spring Skies, based on the Astronomical League’s Galaxy Quest observing program.


    Please come join an exciting, exotic talk on Thursday, May. 5. The “doors” open at 6:30p for socializing and the formal meeting begins at 7 p.m. The link was sent out to our Google Group. Please use the "Contact Us" form or join our Google Group for the Zoom link, if you don't have it!

    Club Expands Amateur Astronomy Opportunities in Southern & Midcoast Maine – Telescope Open House


    Southern Maine Astronomers announces the opening of its new facilities at 179 Neptune Drive at Brunswick Landing, and invites the public to its Open House on Saturday, April 30, 2022, from 1-3 p.m. 


    “Our open house will offer an opportunity for people to come meet us and learn about astronomy, stargazing opportunities and telescopes,” said Robert Burgess, President of SMA.  “There’s been a tremendous growth in interest in astronomy since COVID but many folks get lost in how to advance that interest.  We have the expertise to help people along that learning curve.”


    According to Burgess SMA is an all-volunteer non-profit organization that was established in 2004.  Since that time the club has hosted scores of star parties and school presentations throughout Greater Portland and Midcoast Maine, reaching more than 20,000 people. “Now with a permanent home on Neptune Drive at Brunswick Landing we are able to grow and expand our offerings to the community,” Burgess said.  The club is also active in efforts to protect dark Maine skies and curtail light pollution.


    The Open House will display a variety of telescopes and binoculars with club members on hand to answer questions.  If weather permits the club’s special solar telescope will provide views of the Sun.  The club will also showcase its new astrophotography equipment that is both a teaching platform for those interested in night sky photography and also allows for “electronically-assisted astronomy” for groups, where deep sky images can be shown in real time, captured by a specialized camera.


    “We plan to host regular monthly star parties at Brunswick Landing from May through November, as well as throughout our membership area,” Burgess said.  Information about those events can be found on the club’s website at www.southernmaineastronomers.org

    KELT Virtual Astronomy Talk - Thursday, Mar. 31, 6 p.m.


    The Kennebec Estuary Land Trust hosted Russ Pinizzotto and Rob Burgess of the Southern Maine Astronomers for a lecture on Maine astronomy.  The virtual lecture took place on Thursday, March 31, at 6 p.m. and detailed the actions being taken to preserve nighttime skies.


    In case you missed it, here is a link to the presentation on YouTube.

    SMA Monthly Club Meeting (ZOOM Only)

    COMPLETED - Thursday, Apr. 7, 2022, 7pm. Social "half-hour" starts at 6:30pm.

    For a front row seat at arguably “the greatest adventure of the 20th century” please join us for SMA’s April 7th meeting featuring Dr. Fred Martin who was part of the Apollo mission team putting men on the moon.  Between 1960 and 1969 Fred was a member of the technical and managerial teams that developed the guidance and navigational systems for the Apollo spacecraft.  Fred was a member and then director of the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory that developed the software needed for the various Apollo missions up through and including Apollo 11.  He thus experienced the intense emotional highs of success and the drama and uncertainty of near failure.  Fred was there.  Fifty plus years on Fred will also comment on the new Artemis moon launch system as well as what is being developed by commercial spaceflight companies like Space X and Blue Origin.


    The doors open at 6:30 for socializing with the formal meeting beginning at 7.  At the conclusion of Dr. Martin’s presentation we will be provided with a tour of one of the fainter constellations, Cancer, by Russ Pinizzotto.  Following Russ’ talk the meeting will continue with the Annual Meeting of the Membership and Annual Meeting of Directors, necessary requirements of our non-profit corporation.  At these two short meetings new directors and officers will be elected.

    Past Events & Speakers

    • 2022/03 - Dr. Fred Martin of the Apollo Mission team talks about "the greatest adventure of the 20th century"
    • 2022/03 - Dr. Jonathan McDowell talks about the impact of nano-satellites on astronomical research
    • 2021/12 - Jon Wallace talks about meteorites and finding meteorites in rooftops and gutters.
    • 2021/11 - “Journey to a Comet” presented by Greg Shanos
    • 2021/09 - Our resident MD and Director, Dr. George Bokinsky, updates us on the current state of Astrobiology.
    • 2021/07 - Dr. David Batuski presenting "Tracking Dark Matter in Two Superclusters of Galaxies"
    • 2021/06 - Dr. Catherine Zucker talking about the now-called Radcliffe Wave.
    • 2021/05 - Feature a preview of our Electronically-Assisted Astronomy (EAA) project by Russ & Ara.
    • 2021/04 - Prof. Chris Magri, Assistant Professor of Physics and Chair of the Natural Sciences Department at the University of Maine at Farmington, “A Radar Analysis of Asteroid Bennu.”
    • 2021/03 - Dr. Neil Comins, Professor of Physics & Astronomy at Univ. of Maine, Orono, "Heavenly Errors: Misconceptions About the Real Nature of the Universe."
    • 2021/02 - Chuck Allen, Vice President of the Astronomical League
    • 2021/01 - Telescope Workshop
    • 2020/12 - Dr. Aileen Yingst, Planetary Science Institute, “Big News from a Dwarf Planet: The Story of Vesta”
    • 2020/11 - Sarah Betti, Ph.D. candidate, UMass, “Planet Formation in Protoplanetary Discs”2
    • 2020/10 - Tom Field, President, Field Tested Systems, LLC “You Can Almost Touch the Stars” – Spectroscopy for Amateur Astronomers
  • Membership

    Support your local club and become a member of Southern Maine Astronomers!

  • Wish to donate to SMA?

    Your donation will go to support the club including our outreach and educational efforts in the communities we serve.

  • Committees

    We've got a top notch team! While each of these committees is staffed by Club Directors, any member can join and assist these committees in their club objectives. We welcome participation! Support your Club!


    This committee is focused on increasing membership and improving member experience.

    Purview includes club meetings, greeting members and guests, following up with new people, providing refreshments. It will be the point of contact for club clothing and such. This committee will coordinate with the Program Committee to ensure we are offering speakers and topics that square with the needs and desires of members. It will also liaise with other clubs, including student organizations, and encourage developments between clubs.


    Director Member: Al DiSabatino, Bob Dodge


    Acting as the point of contact for the public, for things like star parties, speakers, etc., and for coordinating the club’s response.

    This committee responds to groups looking for star parties and such events; would determine if it’s a request the club can accommodate; would organize club members willing to attend/staff the event. This committee also provides formal notice to news organizations and public bulletin boards and other third parties of club meetings and events.


    Director Member: James Shields, Ara Jerahian

    Club Member: Ron Thompson


    Planning for meetings, finding speakers, coordinating publicity.

    This Committee seeks speakers in contemporary topics of astronomy and space exploration that are of interest to the membership. The Committee ensures other engaging content to appeal to beginners as well as seasoned amateurs to improve their knowledge of the night sky, telescope equipment, observing techniques and astrophotography.


    Director Member: George Bokinsky, Rowan Goebel-Bain, Russ Pinizzotto


    Managing club equipment, purchased and donated, to fulfill the club's outreach and educational mission.

    Club assets include purchased and donated equipment. This committee determines what best suits club needs and then seeks to sell or otherwise dispose of excess equipment with funds received used to support the club. This committee also manages the Club's Equipment Lending Program that makes more sophisticated equipment available to club members for use.


    Director Member: Forrest Sumner, Kerry Kertes

    Club Member: Ron Thompson

    Dark Sky Advocacy

    Liaising with Dark Sky Maine, IDA, and other groups interested in controlling light pollution.

    Advocating for dark sky-friendly zoning and other regulations to control and reduce light pollution. This Committee hope to develop a recognition program for organizations and municipalities who undertake improvements in light pollution control.


    Director Member: Rob Burgess

    Club Member: Paul Howell


    This Committee is responsible for administration of club finances.

    Responsibilities include management and reconcilement of club finances and bank statements, tax filings, club insurances, etc. Recently, the club decided to undertake fundraising. This new venture will examine club short and long term goals and then find sources and develop strategies to support those goals, including the establishment of an endowment fund.


    Treasurer & Chair: Bob Dodge

    Fundraising Subcommittee: Rob Burgess, Bob Dodge, Russ Pinizzotto

    Executive Committe

    Director Members: Rob Burgess, Bob Dodge, Forrest Sumner, Ara Jerahian

  • Drop Us A Note

    Don't be afraid to reach out. You + us = awesome.


    You can also join our Google Groups mailing list and
    stay super informed of our club activity :)

    179 Neptune Drive, Suite 300
    Brunswick, ME 04011
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