The Celestial Observer – April, 2012

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From the President

This March is a good month for amateur astronomy.  Temperatures are warming, the showcase wintertime objects are still observable earlier in the evening, and Mars is now at opposition, rising in the east after sunset.  Venus and Jupiter shine brightly in the western skies after sunset.

It is also Messier Marathon time.  The Messier Marathon is an event where, in theory, all 110 Messier deep sky objects can be seen in one evening.  This happens when there is a new moon in March.  It will be the subject of an upcoming Presidential Fireside Chat.

Now that I have assumed the presidency, I would like to express my sincere thanks to outgoing board members Jim Bastable and Dan Smoody.  Although no longer on the board these two dedicated members of our club remain fixtures of our scope clinics, Veasey observing sessions and star parties.

I would also like to acknowledge our new board members: Kevin Hocker, our new Membership Director and Ed Burke, our new At-Large member.  Welcome aboard!!

A special thank you is given to those hard-working members who will be continuing to tirelessly serve on the board: Secretary John Hobbs (who is also our star party coordinator), Treasurer Kevin (Godzilla) Ackert, who also spearheads our YAP program, At-Large member Ron (Refractor Guy) Sampson, and Vice President Bill Drown, who bears a striking resemblance to Jack Kennedy’s VP Lyndon Johnson.

Last night we kicked off the new term with a successful star party at the Holten Richmond Middle School in Danvers.  Thanks to all who participated.  Several of the students are planning to participate in the YAP Program and join the club as student members.

Remember, NSAAC is YOUR astronomy club.  I want to encourage everyone to take an active role in the shaping of our activities and mission to promote both the hobby and science of astronomy in the Merrimack Valley.

If you have questions or comments email me: president at

Looking forward to seeing everyone under the stars.

Clear Skies,
Bryan Stone,

NSAAC Plans for June Venus Transit

We’ve had inquires about the club’s plans for the June Venus transit of the Sun. A low Western horizon is needed and at this time the board is considering a club event to take place at the Dark Park. We’ll be discussing this at upcoming board and business, meetings. Stay tuned.

Kevin Ackert

2012 Membership Dues

Dues are now past due for those members who have not yet paid. Paying your dues is now easier than ever via PayPal. Click the link below to be taken to the PayPal payment page for NSAAC.

Not as active in the club as you’d like to be? Sometimes interest in our hobby ebbs and flows due to the limits life can place on us. Your membership dues help support our worthy public outreach programs and keeps the club solvent. Please renew if your undecided, we need you and the support your membership brings.

To pay your dues via PayPal please use the following link:

  • Membership dues for 2012 are $20.00
  • If you joined the club after October 31, 2011, your dues are not due until March of 2013. If you are unsure of when you joined and whether you owe, check with me before paying.
  • 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.
  • If you pay with cash at a 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.
  • If you send your payment via US Mail, the address is NSAAC, c/o Veasey Memorial Park, 201 Washington St., Groveland, MA 01834-2007
  • Questions about your dues can be sent to treasurer at

Kevin Ackert,

Minutes of the NSAAC Business Meeting,
March 2nd, 2012

President Drown called the March Business Meeting of the NSAAC to order at 8:10 PM.  There were 8 members present plus 7 Board members.  There was a quorum.  Meeting was official.


The minutes of the February business meetings were approved by acclamation.


Fiscal year ends March.  Treasurer Kevin Ackert will submit the year end compilation at the next business meeting and at the Board meeting in March.


Kevin Ackert announced that we have 110 paid members in good standing of which 10 are family and 2 are honorary.

Early Meeting Announcements:  

Open forum on the agenda after New Business

Committee Reports:

Merrimack College:  Not open at all

Salem State: Dennis had the observatory open Feb 6th with 22 visitors, Feb 13th with 9visitors, and Feb 28th with six Salem university students and their professor.

Star Party Committee:

The upcoming star parties are:

  • Thursday, March 8, Holten Richmond Middle School, Danvers, MA
  • Friday, March 23,  North Reading Cub Scouts at Merrimack
  • Saturday, April 28th , IRWS, Topsfield, MA
  • Monday, July 11th,  Groveland Longley Library, at Veasey Park

North Reading Cub Scouts at Merrimack









Telescope Clinic: No activity

News, Correspondence and Upcoming Activities:

No information

Old Business:
Ed Burke gave an update of the new website.  There will be a demo probably in March. He expects maybe to switch over to the new website around April 1st.   When ready he will run the finished product by the Board before implementing the new website.

We now have keys to the two new lights at VMP and we have special keys for the switch boxes.  See Ron Sampson if you would like a key for the lights.  The last person leaving must turn the lights back on; especially the walkway lights.

Kevin Ackert announced that he has received one essay for the YAP program.  The hall at Veasey has been reserved on Saturday May 5th for the assembly of the telescopes and the award ceremony at noon.

Election of Officers:

Ed Burke, Chairman of the Election Committee, announced the list of candidates for club officers:

The current slate for the election is:

  • President – Bryan Stone
  • Vice-President – Bill Drown
  • Treasurer – Kevin Ackert
  • Secretary – John Hobbs
  • Membership Director – Kevin Hocker
  • Members at Large – Ron Sampson and Edward Burke

The chairman asked the members if there was anyone who wanted to run for office.  There were no people interested.

As the slate of candidates was unopposed, the Vice –president cast a single vote for electing the current slate by acclamation.  Welcome to the new club officers.

New Business:

There is a new light installed at Veasey; is in the parking lot next to the garage near the main building.  It does not require a key as there is a switch on the pole.

Kevin Ackert will contact John Tulick to get copies of the Dark Park permit for the coming summer.

Board Meeting will be Monday March 12th   at 7:30 PM at Veasey.

Meeting adjourned at 8:45 PM

Respectfully submitted,
John Hobbs, Secretary NSAAC

Young Astronomer Program
The YAP awards date April 28th has been changed to May 5th due to a conflict with NEAF in New York. President Stone tried to get them to reschedule NEAF but to no avail. Several of the YAP volunteers will be attending NEAF and I’m considering going myself. NEAF is the North East Astronomy Forum held in Suffern, NY every spring.

As of this writing there have been two YAP entries received. All the award equipment is purchased. The hits on the website show a lot of interest in the program. We’ll be judging the entries at the April business meeting, so the more members attending the more judges they’ll be. It should prove to be great entertainment, please attend and help us judge the essays.

Kevin Ackert

Star Party News

There have been no star parties in February. There is one star party scheduled for March.  Fred Sammartino entertained 19 cub scouts from Reading at the Merrimack Observatory February 28th.  The star party thanks Fred for his continued effort in hosting scout groups at the Observatory.

For a list of upcoming star parties, see this month’s minutes.

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:

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.

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