The Celestial Observer – January, 2011

From the President

The speaker for the January business meeting is Bruce Berger, who will present his work on occultations. The presentation is from 8 to 9 PM. We will have a Chinese buffet dinner from 6:30 to 7:30 PM at the China Blossom restaurant in North Andover.

Download PDF Version

Speaker blurb:

I am an avid amateur astronomer, tinkerer, designer, observer and love to get involved in projects where I’m using my hands and mind. I live in Chelmsford, Massachusetts with my wife, just 8 miles from the observatory of the Amateur Telescope Makers of Boston. I got involved with ATMoB over 11 years ago when I decided to build my first telescope. This 8″ reflector went on to win an optical excellence award at the Stellafane Convention, and the unique mount took an award for innovative mechanical design. Since that time I’ve built, rebuilt, refurbished or repaired many different telescopes and mountings for myself and others.

The changes to the club by-laws were approved at the December business meeting. A signed written version of the revised by-laws will be added to the club website. All future business items that need the approval of NSAAC members can be voted on electronically by active members that have registered on the club website. To register on the club website go to this website link:


Next, look for the login button on the left side of the webpage, which is about half way down. Then, click on the ‘Registerlink a few lines down, and complete the registration. The webmasters will review the registration request and verify that it is from an active NSAAC member. You should be approved within 48 hours. Once you have been approved, you will have access to detailed information on each business item that will be voted on electronically plus access to online voting on this business item (only one vote per business item per NSAAC member). The deadline to complete the online vote is 24 hours prior to the business meeting at which the vote will occur.

I would like to remind members of a really cool full lunar eclipse that will occur Monday night and Tuesday morning, December 20-21. Partial eclipse is visible at 1:33 AM, total eclipse begins at 2:41 AM. My picture of the total lunar eclipse that occurred about three years ago:

Full lunar eclipse

February 10, 2008 at 10:54 PM

Worth losing sleep to see.

If you have questions or comments email me: jefoy at

James Foy,


NSAAC Welcomes Our New Member:

Kevin Wood of Georgetown, MA

Jim Bastable,

Membership Director

Young Astronomer Program

The 2011 Young Astronomer information packages will be sent to the schools during the Christmas break or early January. If you would like to have a school included in the mailing send me the name of the school, principal’s name, and mailing address.

The club is accepting donations to sponsor the YAP program. Donations can be sent to:

Treasurer, NSAAC

201 Washington St.

Groveland, MA 01834-2007

Kevin Ackert

Minutes of the NSAAC Business Meeting, December 3rd, 2010

President Foy called the December Business Meeting of the NSAAC to order at 9:00 PM. There were 12 members present plus 7 Board members. There was an official quorum.


The minutes of the November business meeting was approved by acclamation.


Kevin gave a brief report.


Kevin announced 105 members in good standing.

Early Meeting Announcements:

Open forum on the agenda after New Business

Committee Reports:

Young Astronomers Program:

Merrimack College:

There was only one day of clear weather for observing. We need get a few more people for back-ups for the observatory. Contact Jim Foy if interested.

Salem State:

Because of bad weather the observatory was open on Nov 3rd with only 3 people. There were 7 people there on Nov 17th. Dennis could use some help at the observatory. Contact Dennis Gudzevich or Jim Foy it you want to help with this observatory.

Star Party Committee:

The upcoming star parties are:

March 2011, friends of Essex National Heritage

June, 2011, Wenham Public Library

Telescope Clinic:

No activity

News, Correspondence and Upcoming Activities:

No information

Old Business:

John Tulick has renewed the clubs permit to use the dark park for the coming year. He has sent an electronic copy to Jim Foy. Members that would like to use the dark park should request a permit from Jim Foy or Kevin Ackert via email.

We now have keys to the two new lights at VMP and we have special keys for the switch boxes. See Jim Foy if you would like a key for the lights. Jim Foy has taken photos of how to use the keys and will make up a how to package which will be put on the list server. A key for the lights is in the NSAAC mailbox. The last person leaving must turn the lights back on; especially the walkway lights.

New Business:

President Foy indicated that he has put two young astronomers nights on the calendar due to the bad Weather so that we can have alternate dates. He will use the list server to indicate whether or not the event will take place.

President asked for more pictures to be sent in for the newsletter and the website.

The Board is proposing to amend the by-laws to better define active member and add online voting for members not attending the meetings. President Foy read the proposed bylaw changes to the members and asked for comments from the members. The proposed changes are outlined below:

As the By-Laws are NOW



Section 1 – Regular Business Meetings

The Club shall have one regular membership meeting each month, with the exception of July, that shall take place at a time, date and location to be determined by the Board.

A quorum, consisting of ten percent of the active membership, excluding the Board members, is required to conduct a vote on any and all items brought up during/entered into a Business Meeting. This ten percent of the active membership must have signed the attendance list prior to any vote. In the event that ten percent of the active membership is not present the Business Meeting shall be conducted for informational purposes only.

Proposed By-Law change (section 5 is new)



Section 1 – Regular Business Meetings

The Club shall have one regular membership meeting each month, with the exception of July, that shall take place at a time, date and location to be determined by the Board.

A member will be considered active if that member is not an Honorary, Associate, or Family member, and is currently in good standing with dues paid. A quorum, consisting of the larger of five active members who are not board members, or one more than the number of NSAAC Board members attending the Business Meeting, is required to conduct a vote on any and all items brought up during/entered into a Business Meeting. In the event that a quorum of the active membership is not present the Business Meeting shall be conducted for information purposes only.

Section 5 – Electronic Voting on Business Items

All business items, excluding the Election of Officers, can be voted on electronically by active members that have registered on the club website ( These items must be published in the official NSAAC newsletter one-month prior to the Regularly Scheduled Business Meeting and have been previously discussed at one Regularly Scheduled Business Meeting with or without a quorum. Only valid registered voters, that have been confirmed to be active members (paid dues, Name, address and email address), are allowed to vote once, either online or at a business meeting, on each business item. The deadline to vote electronically is one day prior to the Regularly Scheduled Meeting at which the vote on the business item will occur. Valid votes will be combined with the vote count of active members that have signed the attendance sheet prior to the vote at the Regularly Scheduled Meeting when the business item vote occurs. A list of members who voted online will be used at the business meeting to verify that members voting at the meeting have not voted online.

(End of proposed by-law change)

A motion was made and seconded to accept the definition of an active member and quorum. The motion was accepted unanimously.

A motion was made and seconded to accept Section 5- Electronic Voting on Business Items. The motion was accepted unanimously.

The president initiated a discussion of new ideas for star parties. Topics discussed were to send out a poll to club members on public outreach programs, determine if more members would be involved in star parties if the club had loaner astronomy equipment for star parties, and should we cut back on the number of star parties. The majority of members did not think the first two ideas would work and the star party coordinator indicated that the schools when they call for star party dates are not very flexible on the dates they have available. He indicated that we could cut back the number of star parties that we have for the Essex National Heritage function.

The president indicated that we need to have a Chairman of the Nominating Committee for the upcoming club officer’s election in place by the January business meeting. He asked for volunteers. Contact Jim Foy if interested in this position.

Board Meeting is set for Monday December November 13th, 7:30 PM. at VMP.

Meeting adjourned at 9:40 PM.

Respectively submitted, John Hobbs, Secretary NSAAC

Star Party News

Finally the star party rush is over. Several have been cancelled due to weather and not rescheduled. Brewster did the presentation the Shawsheen School with about 150 attendees and with telescopes provided by members Jim Foy, Kevin Ackert, and John Gall. The final star party of the year was at the Kittredge School and Brewster also gave the presentation for about 100 and scopes were provided by Jim Foy, Fred Sammartino, Leor Zolman, Ted Blank, Patrick Amoroso, and Jim Bastable.

For a list of upcoming star parties set the December Celestial Observer.

The Star Party Committee would like to thank all the members who have supported our star party effort and look forward to your continued participation in the coming months.

John Hobbs,

Star Party Coordinator



The Long Dark Night of the Soul

(re-printed from February 2008)

I don’t know about you, but my desire to go out to observe takes a big hit when the temperature is -13F. As I write, it’s now up to 42 degrees out, but the sky is cloudy and the ground is muddy. Let’s face it; winter is not the best season for our hobby. So, here are some suggestions to help you get through the winter blahs:

  1. Go to a club meeting and volunteer to do a presentation to a group.
  2. Read that astronomy book you got for Christmas.
  3. Treat yourself to some astronomical trinket like a book or new filter. No, I am not gong to buy a Nagler Ethos (sigh) but I am enjoying the process of selecting something.
  4. While you’re at it, go through your old Astronomy and Sky and Telescope magazines and read the articles you told yourself you would get to when you had the time.
  5. And while you are going through your old issues, cut out the articles you want to keep. I have a file folder for each season and one for miscellaneous topics.
  6. Start that project, like tuning up your scope or building a bino mount.
  7. Rent ‘Seeing in the Dark’, the 2 hour PBS special based on the book by Timothy Ferris
  8. Visit a planetarium or astronomy store.
  9. Clean your scope, eyepieces and organize your astronomy gear.
  10. Make up a observing list(s). I usually only think about doing it just before I head out.
  11. Draw constellation outlines on your star charts to make them easier to read.
  12. Watch the History Channel’s ‘Universeseries.
  13. Cruise the internet…need I say more?

Finally, remember, Spring and the Virgo Cluster are coming up fast.

Clear skies, Barrie Sawyer




Getting to Veasey Memorial Park

From Interstate 95 north, take the Route 133 west (54B) exit, and follow it into Georgetown Center. Go straight through the light, now on Route 97N. Go about 1.5 miles and take a left onto Salem Street (Tea Garden Restaurant at this intersection). Stay on Salem Street and turn left onto Washington Street. VMP is down a bit on the right. Directions to all of the NSAAC observing sites in our web site’s “Observing” section:

E-Mail Listserve

If you have email access and are an NSAAC member in good standing, you may want to subscribe to the email notification system that Lew Gramer established for the Club in 1996. This is a “members only” system that places you in contact with other members for late breaking news concerning spontaneous observing activities, outings, tech talk, etc. You can subscribe by emailing your request to the address below. Your message should look like this:

To: majordomo at

Subject: Email list (you can put anything here)

Body: subscribe NSAAC Full-Name <email-address>

To remove yourself from the email list, or to temporarily suspend delivery from the list or access your other options, please use our “Subscriber Settings” Web page:
Contact Information

For more information about the club and its activities, contact Kevin Hocker, Membership Director, email: membership at or Bryan Stone, President, e-mail president at

Our club web site is:

The Celestial Observer is edited by Leor Zolman.

Feedback, and member contributions are welcome. Contact: newsletter at

Suggestions regarding the content of the NSAAC web site are always welcome; please email webmaster at with your ideas or article submissions.


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