The Celestial Observer – April, 2011

From the President

All weekend nights from March 11th thru April 2nd a mini Messier Marathon will be held at Veasey Memorial Park. The purpose is to encourage members to use an observation list with the correct sequence of Messier objects to start with and then proceed to such that they are all observable in one night. At least, that is the idea. In reality a clear horizon, dark night skies and a location further south are needed to find all 110 objects in one night. That is why we are sponsoring a mini Marathon. Find as many as you can and leave when you are tired. I will set-up my go-to telescope and finder scope centered on each Messier object in the sequence. This will help locate the object and show what it looks like. I will also have a Messier Marathon List and software available to help find the objects. Now all we need is some clear nights.

NSAAC officers for 2011 to 2012 were elected at the March business meeting. I would like to thank all these officers, plus Leor Zolman (newsletter editor), Michael Deneen and Kevin Hocker (website masters) for helping to make NSAAC a success. I am still seeking help with programs for the monthly business meetings. So, if you are interested in giving a presentation about an astronomy related subject of your choice please contact me.

Essays and teacher references from the Young Astronomers Program are due the end of March. At the April NSAAC board meeting, we will read these and decide who will win either a telescope or pair of binoculars. NSAAC members that are interested in reading the essays and voting are welcome. The tentative date is Monday, April 11th. This date will be confirmed at the April business meeting. Please contact me if you would like to participate in YAP voting.

If you have questions or comments email me: jefoy at

James Foy,


Download PDF Version

Young Astronomer Program

The YAP web page has received 121 hits since the mailing went out. Members who would like to be on the judging panel for the essays may attend the April BOD meeting.

The 2011 mailings have gone out to about one hundred schools throughout the Merrimack Valley. All submissions must be posted by March 28, 2011. The board will decide the awards at the board meeting on April 11. The awards date this year is Astronomy Day, May 7th, 2011 and will be held at Veasey Memorial Park.

Let me remind members again that the contest is open to ALL youths grades 5 through 8 and that YAP entry packages can be downloaded from our website at

Kevin Ackert

2011 Membership Dues

Membership dues for 2011 are now due. If you have not yet paid your dues please sent them in now. Dues can also be paid on line via our website and the PayPal system. If you are currently unemployed or under serious financial stress please contact any board member and tell them your situation.

Please note the following concerning dues payments:

  1. Membership dues for 2011 are $20.00
  2. If you joined the club after October 31, 2010, your dues are not due until March of 2012. If you are unsure of when you joined and whether you owe, check with me before paying.
  3. If none of your information or club options have changed, you do not need to include a renewal form with payment. If your information has changed, please download a renewal form from our website.
  4. Payments can be made via PayPal. After clicking this link click the PayPal link on that page to take you to the payment page.
  5. If you send your payment via US Mail, the address is NSAAC, c/o Veasey Memorial Park, 201 Washington St., Groveland, MA 01834-2007
  6. If you pay with cash at the meeting, attach a note to your check with your name on it, or, write your name on the bill. Cash payments with no name attached will not be accepted.
  7. Please lower the workload of your club treasurer by paying your dues in a timely manner. We have a grace period for unpaid members. Members who have not paid their dues in March receive reminders until the grace period ends at which time membership privileges are lost.

Questions about your dues can be sent to:treasurer at

Kevin Ackert, Treasurer

Minutes of the NSAAC Business Meeting, March 4th, 2011

Foy called the March Business Meeting of the NSAAC to order at 8:31 PM. There were 8 members present plus 6 Board members. There was an official quorum.

Secretary: Minutes of the February business meeting were approved by acclamation.


No report.


Kevin announced 107 members in good standing.

Early Meeting Announcements:

Open forum on the agenda after New Business

Committee Reports:

Election of Officers:

Kevin Hocker, the Chairman of the Nominating Committee, read the slate of candidates for the club officers:

President, Jim Foy

Vice-President, Bill Drown

Treasurer, Kevin Ackert

Secretary, John Hobbs

Membership Director, Jim Bastable

Members at Large, Dan Smoody and Ron Sampson

The Vice President asked for nomination from the floor; there were none from the floor. The Vice-president asked for a show of hands in favor of the candidates and moved the candidates were elected by acclamation.

Young Astronomers Program:

Board Members will decide on winners. Need to decide how many scopes to award and how to use donated telescopes in the program. March 28th is the deadline for the packages from the schools. At the April board meeting, the board will read the essays and determine the six winners. On the morning of May 7th the scopes will be assembled and awarded to the winners that afternoon. Kevin was going to look at the finances for the YAP program and determine when we will have to find other sources for the program. We have the donation program, but haven’t gotten any response. We could propose to raise the dues by $5 and with 100 members this would produce around $500 which would pay for 2 telescopes.

Merrimack College:

Kevin had about 25 people over the night and an instructor with group of students. 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 un-opened in February. 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:

Thursday, March 10th, Salem Science program, Witchcraft Heights Elementary School, Salem, MA

Tuesday, March 15th, Tilton Elementary School, Haverhill, MA, rain date Wednesday, March 16th.

Friday, March 25th, friends of Essex National Heritage

Saturday, March 26th, IRWS Winter Program, Michael Deneen, Exoplanets

Thursday April 7th, Marblehead Charter School

Saturday, May 7th, IRWS Spring Program, Gary Meehan, Stellar Evolution

Tuesday, August 9th, Wenham Public Library

Telescope Clinic:

No activity

News, Correspondence and Upcoming Activities:

No information

Old Business:

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:

Veasey has installed 4 new lights and Jim Foy will find out more info on these lights. There was no communication with Veasey and we need to find out how to turn them off.

Bryan Stone has followed up with the other local astronomy clubs to see if they would be interested in a presentation by Bob Tetter on his line of standard and custom Dobsonian Telescopes. Bryan has received some positive feedback and possible funding from the New Hampshire club and the ATMoBs. However, he comes from New Jersey, and would need to cover his travel expenses. Bryan will contact Tetter and see if he would be interested say in the May or June time frame. Ralph Pass has arranged for us the use of the facilities of Merrimack for this event.

Jim Foy brought up the need for ideas for business meeting entertainment. He suggested that we have workshops. An example would be a collimation workshop, a star hopping workshop, eyepiece night, and a software night. John Boudreau is working on a talk on his planet imaging and would be willing to give it at a business meeting.

Jim Foy asked if anyone would like to champion a Messier Marathon at the end of March first of April.

He will be at Veasey on the last weekends in March with handouts and observing. He will put dates up on the list server when he will be there weather permitting.

There was no entertainment for the evening. There was a collimation of a Newtonian telescope workshop chaired by Bryn Stone before the meeting.

Board meeting set for Monday, March 14th at Veasey at 7:30 PM.

Meeting adjourned at 9:20 PM.

Respectively submitted, John Hobbs, Secretary NSAAC

Star Party News

This month starts the star party season with four star parties scheduled. Please come out and get the season off to a rousing start.

Jim Foy represented the club at the last Salem Science night at the Bennett Middle School with a telescope for the kids and parents to look at. Thanks Jim for your unending support.

For a list of upcoming star parties set the March 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




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:

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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.

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