The Celestial Observer – June, 2012

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From the President

NSAAC President Bryan Stone and Al Nagler of Televue, at the Northeast Astronomy Forum discussing their favorite subject, eyepieces

The last month has been loaded with astronomical activities.  I want to begin by welcoming all the members who have recently joined the club, including the winners of this year’s Young Astronomers Program.  What a nice feeling it was to see the looks of pride on the faces of the parents of these enthusiastic youngsters.  I am confident that they will be active members of our club for years to come. I hope to see you all at our upcoming Galactic Youth Gathering at Veasey.  Thanks to all who helped make YAP Day a success.

Speaking of parental pride, I must make special mention of how proud his parents are, and we are all proud of Peter Roy who wowed us all with the results of his absolutely superb lunar astro-imaging project, presented on the club wide email list in video form and at our most recent meeting.

Our Scope Clinic continues to attract people from, literally, all over.  I think a record was set last meeting when the Millers came all the way from Gardner, Mass,  for us to successfully collimate their new 12 inch go-to Dob.  It was great having them and they are joining the club.  Welcome aboard!

NSAAC President Bryan Stone and At-Large Board Member Ron Sampson at the Northeast Astronomy Forum

A delegation from our club attended NEAF, the Northeast Astronomy Forum in New York.  I participated in a summit for club presidents and got a chance to meet many of the other club presidents and to learn about national organizations that are eager to assist clubs like ours in our outreach efforts.

That same weekend, Gary Meehan, Mike Deneen and John Hobbs successfully hosted an Astronomy Day event for 71 people.

And the fun never stops.  We have upcoming star parties and the Venus transit in early June.  Stay tuned to the website for the latest.

If you have questions or comments email me: president at

Bryan Stone,

Young Astronomer Program

As reported last month, we had our largest number of essays ever for our YAP contest in 2012. I’m very proud to introduce you to the first place winners or our Young Astronomer Program, and our new NSAAC Family members. Please welcome:

Anna, and her parents Liz and Tom from Amesbury. Anna attends the fifth grade at Amesbury Middle School. For a school project she built a functional telescope from PVC pipe, glue, mirrors, and duct tape. She knew the names of all the planets by age three and could find Polaris by age five.

Left to right, Alexander Denby, Katya Grayton-Heinz, Elizabeth Inger, Anna, and James Sanborn

Elizabeth Inger, and her parents Maureen and Barry from Groveland. Elizabeth is in the seventh grade at Pantucket Regional Middle School. She developed her love for astronomy via her parents who have taken her and her siblings to VMP on our observing nights. She has a very inquisitive and exploratory mind, and she finds astronomy very relaxing.

Steven and his parents Laureen and Steven from Methuen. Steven is in the eighth grade at the Marsh Grammar School. Steven’s favorite astronomer is Galileo Galilei because of his many discoveries. The excitement of discovery is what draws Steven to astronomy and he hopes to find a new planet someday. He enjoys astronomy with his uncle in Alton Bay, NH and plans to bring his telescope there.

Katya Grayton-Heinz and her mother Paula. Katya is a student at the Holten-Richmond Middle School who developed her love for astronomy through her mom teaching her the constellations at bedtime. She wants to split the binary star Sirius (her favorite) and see the rings of Saturn. On the first night of owning her telescope she photographed the full moon via the eyepiece.

Katya and Elizabeth with their families

Alexander Denby and his parents Anya and David from Salem. Alexander attends the sixth grade at the Collins Middle School. Alexander had a small telescope through his younger years which he outgrew. His thirst for knowledge of the cosmos is obvious and he has a strong desire to discover new things in the cosmos.

James Sanborn and his parents Elaine and Erik. James is in the sixth grade at the Dr. Baghall School. For a science project James did a study of the craters on the moon that compared crater formation there with that on other moons in our solar system taking into consideration their composition and temperatures.

President Stone with James Sanborn and family

To all our participants, thank you for entering the contest! We look forward to being able to observe with you some night. If you have any problems or questions, please ask us. Be patient, and clear skies!

Let me also thank all the NSAAC members who have contributed both time and money to the success of this year’s program. As treasurer, I’ll be working this summer on proposals to allow us to continue the funding of this program.

Kevin Ackert

NSAAC Welcomes Our New Members:

  • Steven Mullaney from Haverhill MA
  • Marty Johnson from Malden
  • Altmar Melendez from Lawrence

And please also welcome our new YAP Family members:

  • James Sanborn
  • Elizabeth Inger from Groveland
  • Katya Grayton-Heinz
  • Anna Iacobucci from Amesbury
  • Alexander Denby from Salem

Kevin Hocker,
Membership Director


Final Chance To Pay 2012 Dues

The month of June is the month I have to pull the plug on those who’ve not yet paid their 2012 dues that were due on March 1st.  At the last board meeting of the summer I report the number of unpaid members and by the end of June member privileges are suspended. I have to do this for all unpaid members, even those who’ve been in the club for years and I strongly feel they do not intend to leave the club. There has to be structure and limits in bookkeeping, and the end of June is the limit for unpaid dues. If you’re unsure if your dues have been paid or if you owe, please email me at treasurer at

We hate to lose any members, but if you’ve chosen not to renew your membership we’d really appreciate a word as to why, especially if we’ve failed to meet your expectations in some way. Please email Membership Director Kevin Hocker at membership at Your communications with Kevin will be restricted to the board of directors.

Kevin Ackert,

Minutes of the NSAAC Business Meeting,
May 4th, 2012

President Stone called the May Business Meeting of the NSAAC to order at 8:21 PM.  There were 7 members present plus 6 Board members.  Guests at the meeting were Grace and Bud Miller from Gardner MA. There was a quorum.  Meeting was official.


The minutes of the April business meetings were accepted by acclamation.


Kevin will have the official treasurer’s report done by June (March 1st start of new fiscal year)


Kevin Ackert announced that we have 83 paid members in good standing of which 10 are family and 2 are honorary. 29 members have yet to renew.

Early Meeting Announcements:

Open forum on the agenda after New Business.

Committee Reports:

Merrimack College:

Kevin did not open the observatory on April 25th.  No information available on other dates.

Salem State:

Salem state college observatory still has problems with its dome as indicated on its web page.  Dennis indicated that it should be fixed in the next two weeks.

Star Party Committee:

The upcoming star parties are:

  • Tuesday, May 15th, Immaculate Conception School, Lowell, MA
  • Thursday, June  7th, Lane elementary School, Bedford
  • Wednesday, July 11th,  Groveland Longley Library, at Veasey Park
  • Thursday, August 16th, Wenham Public Library
  • Thursday, September 13th, Rowley Public Library, rain date September 27





Telescope Clinic:

Bryan Stone, Ron Sampson, and Kevin Ackert held a clinic for Grace and Bud Miller to collimate their Orion 12″ go to DOB

Old business:

Kevin Ackert awarded the 6″ DOB to Steven, a winner from the Marsh school in Methuen who could not attend the YAP award ceremony on May 5th.

New Business:

Bryan Stone gave a talk on what he learned at the President’s meeting at NEAF.  Various organizations gave presentations on outreach programs for astronomy clubs.  One such group was NASA Night Sky Network which is managed by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

Next Bryan talked about the Astronomical League and whether the club should join.  The dues for the League have changed over the years and it has been too expensive for the club to sign up all the members,  The Board will discuss membership in the League at the next Board meeting and inform the members on it recommendations at the next business meeting.

Other topics at NEAF:

New Teeter Dobs and some new cases and chairs made of wood from Wood Wonders.

Al Nagler showed their new Delos eyepieces.

Proto Star is making drop-in, easy to collimate secondary’s for aftermarket DOB’s from Orion, Synta, and GSO.

Explore Scientific Achromats were deemed not very acceptable; however, their 6.7mm eyepiece was deemed to be nice and Kevin Hocker has a 35 mm eyepiece that he likes.

Kevin Ackert said the club is using Dark Park for the Venus transit.  He is working with John Tulick to arrange for us to use Dark Park from about 3 PM until the transit is over.

Dennis indicated that on June 5 he will open the Salem State roof for solar observing with help from members as yet unnamed.

Ed Burke said the new web page will be operational on the 15th of May with a minor down time of less than 24 hours.  Once the site is up and stable he will start the member’s only page.

President Stone announced that Starport will be available starting in June.  Starport is the home of member Barrie Sawyer on a mountain top in NH and he has made an observing site available to club members.  He will send out notices on the list server with dates and directions.

Board Meeting will be Tuesday May 15, at 7:30 PM at Veasey.

Meeting adjourned at 9:15 PM

Respectfully submitted,
John Hobbs, Secretary NSAAC


NSAAC Plans For June Venus Transit

We have permission to use Bradley Palmer State Park for our Venus transit event on June 5th. There is no firm commitment as to who will be there with solar observing equipment. I will have my 5″ Meade ETX and Baader filter which shows the sun in white light. People with solar viewing equipment, or any setup for viewing the sun such as projection devices, please post to the list server if you plan on attending.

As far as cloud predictions for go/no go on the day of the event, we’ll just make the call via the list server and the new website if it’s up and running. First contact is not until just after 6 PM. I’ll probably arrive between 3 and 4 PM. For those who’ve never observed from this site, watch the list server for specific directions or email me at

Kevin Ackert

Starport: What, Where, Why, When?

For all you new members, you’ll see chatter about Starport on the list server this summer. Starport is the retirement home of member Barrie Sawyer in Groton, NH. That’s west of Plymouth and 120 miles from the intersection of I-93 and I-495. Starport is the lair of Godzilla, the legendary New England monster telescope that feeds on distant galaxy clusters.

Godzilla comes out on clear, new moon weekends during the summer. All members are invited to come and enjoy Starport. All you have to do is let Barrie know you’re coming when announcements go out that it is open. You don’t have to know Barrie to visit Starport.

Accommodations include a house with limited beds, floor space, and plenty of room for tents and campers. Barrie often cooks meals and a tip jar for donations is available.

We have a blacktop circle about thirty feet wide. We put Godzilla in the center and all the “little” scopes around the perimeter and we go from sunset to sunrise on good nights.

Please be warned; although looking through a 36 inch telescope from a dark sky site relieves all symptoms of photon fever, continued overuse may lead to a case of aperture dependency, which is believed by some to be worse than a gambling addiction. Long lasting dependencies of this nature can be devastating to one’s bank account and family life. The owners of Godzilla will not be held liable for damages caused by looking through this telescope.

The first projected Starport weekend will be June 15-16 or 21-22. Please watch the list server for announcements.

Kevin Ackert


Star Party News

There were two star parties in April.  At the Islamic Academy of Peace in Methuen, MA, on Friday, April 27, Brewster LaMacchia gave a presentation on the planets and their moons. Skies cleared at the last minute for observing, about 40 students and their parents, viewed Saturn, the Moon, Mars and Venus with scopes provided by Brewster LaMacchia, John Hobbs and Fred Krell.  On Astronomy Day evening April 28, Garry Meehan gave a presentation at the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary on the Moon to about 75 attendees.  The moon and Saturn were the only objects visible and were seen through scopes provided by Michael Deneen, John Hobbs, and Gary Meehan.

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: /about-the-club/observing

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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