The Celestial Observer – May, 2012


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From the President

Our last meeting on April 6th was a success as we had an excellent turnout and two telescopes at the pre-meeting Scope Clinic. Thanks to those who helped out. Since our last Celestial Observer, the YAP Committee selected the winners of this year’s contest. Six very deserving youngsters will be receiving Dobsonian telescopes to further their interests in our hobby.

Although we had to postpone two star parties over the past week, we had an impromptu star party on Friday the 13th, when Kevin Hocker’s new 12-inch Dob saw first light. During a few moments of good seeing, Kevin, Ron Sampson and I were able to show a first view of Saturn to some visitors, including attendees of the Veasey Contra Dancing event. It is always fun to see the reactions when people see their first good telescopic view of Saturn; usually it is some kind of dramatic expletive. Some of them can’t be repeated here. Although the sun is setting a little later these days, I think this is a great time of the year for stargazing because we have mild temperatures, not so much dew and the mosquitoes haven’t started being an issue. Please take advantage of these factors and get out there and see Saturn and Mars. Last night we got some very nice views of the Martian surface detail and polar cap with my 8 inch Dob and Ron’s 6mm Zeiss Ortho. If you have questions or comments email me: president at

Following Saturn at Veasey Memorial Park - Note the artificial moon in the distance.

Bryan Stone,


Spring 2012 Galactic Young Astronomer Gathering!

The NSAAC will host a special observing night for our new and past Young Astronomers who’ve received telescope awards from us and are family members of the club. The event will be on the last quarter moon of May 11th with a cloud date of May 12th and will be at Veasey Memorial Park in Groveland. We will provide the kids with two objects lists, one easy and one hard, and also with assistance with telescopes as needed. Six new YAP winners will have received there telescopes the week before, and an announcement sent to previous winners should produce a fair amount of attendance. If you would like to attend the event to give assistance to a kid, please contact me so I have an idea of who’ll be there.

Kevin Ackert


NSAAC Welcomes Our New Members:

  • Barbara Klain of Lowell
  • Frederic Krell of Swampscott

Kevin Hocker,
Membership Director
Young Astronomer Program

(Please note contestant’s names are omitted from this article pending parental permission. Names will be published next month once permission is received.) It took eight years, but the Young Astronomer Program (YAP) seems to have finally come of age in terms of numbers of high quality entries. The panel of six judges had a long arduous task choosing the winners at the board meeting on April 9. Here are some interesting demographics from this year’s contest.

We received thirty-three entries from eleven different schools and fourteen different teachers. One school (Collins Middle School in Salem) had three different teachers nominate students. The Collins school had a total of fifteen entries, almost 50% of the total. As you may know, they are one of our biggest star parties each year and a very generous donor to our programs. The other school with more than one teacher participating was the Holten Richmond Middle School in Danvers. Other schools participating in the contest were Amesbury Middle School, the Baghall School of Groveland, Doherty Middle School in Andover, Guilmette Middle School in Lawrence, Lawrence Catholic Academy, the Marsh Grammar School in Methuen, Pentucket Regional Middle School in Groveland, Rockport Middle School, and The Islamic Academy For Peace in Methuen.

Of the thirty-three entries there were nineteen girls and fourteen boys. They consisted of four in the 4th grade, one in the 5th grade, twenty-three 6th graders, four 7th graders, and only one 8th grader. We are awarding six telescopes and five pair of binoculars. Consolation prizes of the “David

Chandler” planisphere will be given to the participants who do not receive a scope or binos. One 4th grader will receive a pair of binoculars, and the sole 8th grader will receive a scope. One scope and two pair of binoculars will go to three 7th graders, the remaining scopes and binos all going to 6th graders.

Of the six telescopes awarded, three will go to girls and three to boys. Now here is a very interesting tidbit; there were only two entries from the town of Groveland, a boy and a girl, both from different schools, and both of them won a telescope! The fact that they are from Groveland had no bearing on the judging, but the young woman’s essay stated that her parents often brought her to observing sessions at Veasey, which the judges determined was a strong influencing factor in both her growing interest and parent participation. In addition to the teacher’s supporting statements, parent participation is an important factor in the judging.

Two contestants received unanimous votes for a telescope, the girl from Groveland mentioned above and another girl from Amesbury. The girl from Amesbury built a telescope from PVC pipe, a mirror, and duct tape for a school project.

She researched telescope design and went through trial and errors to get it functional. Her teacher said the telescope succeeded in making distant objects look closer. She is the 5th grader mentioned above. I have a feeling she will be a good fit for our club! The telescopes will be awarded on May 5th. The binocular winners will come to our meetings to pick them up or they will be delivered by a member to their home. Consolation awards will be mailed. Thank you to the judges who worked very hard choosing the winners. Members are welcome to attend the YAP ceremony on May 5th. We will meet at 9:00 to assemble the telescopes, have pizza at noon, and have the ceremony at 1:00

Kevin Ackert


Minutes of the NSAAC Business Meeting,

April 6th, 2012

President Stone called the March Business Meeting of the NSAAC to order at 8:05 PM. There were 10 members present plus 6 Board members. There was a quorum.

Meeting was official.


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


Kevin will have the official treasurers report done by May

(March 1st start of new fiscal year)


Kevin Ackert announced that we have 80 paid members in good standing of which 10 are family and 2 are honorary.

32 members have yet to renew.

Early Meeting Announcements:

Open forum on the agenda after New Business

Committee Reports:

Merrimack College:

The observatory was open on two nights with 20 to 30 attendees both nights (first and third week of the month.

Jeff Hayes and Fred Sammartino opened. Bill Drown assisted both nights.

Fred ran a star party for cub scouts from Melrose on April

5th and they made a donation of $60 to the club.

Salem State:

Salem state college had problems with its dome as indicated on its web page. Dennis Gudzevich opened on three days in March with 21, 24, and 26 guests. On Tuesday the 3rd he opened for solar observing for 7 students from the University.

Star Party Committee:

The upcoming star parties are:

· Wednesday, April 11th, Marblehead Charter School

· Thursday, April 12th, Kittredge Middle School, N.


· Friday, April 27th, Islamic Peace Academy,


· Saturday, April 28th , IRWS, Topsfield, MA

· Monday, July 11th, Groveland Longley Library, at

Veasey Park

· Thursday, August 16th, Wenham Public Library

Bryan Stone, Kevin Hocker, Jim Bastable, Ron Sampson and Dan Smoody assisted John & Lauren Garron with a Meade 4″ equatorial scope and Pedro Poitevin with an Orion 6″Starblast intelliscope.

Old business:

There were 6 more applications received for YAP program tonight. Kevin Ackert indicated that there are now have 33 applications for the Yap program. Kevin asked that we move the April Board meeting to Monday April 9th at 7:30 PM so that we can decide on the winners of the YAP

essays. Kevin will try to put all applications in word format and send them to the board members prior to the meeting. Kevin invited all members to join us at the business meeting to help with the selection process. Kevin & Brian discussed starting a youth club activities because of a letter he received from a young member.

New Business:

Dennis Gudzevich wanted to know what is happening for Venus transit on June 5. Kevin Ackert said the club is using Dark Park on that date. In a related matter, the club discussed the glasses that Dennis wants it to purchase for the transit, and most of the Board decided that is a legal

issue and should not be approved. 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 in mid-April with a minor down time of less than 24 hours.

Kevin Ackert will contact John Tulick to get copies of the Dark Park permit for the coming summer. Kevin discussed not having star parties on Fridays or new moon nights. John Hobbs indicated that the schools request Friday nights as the kids can stay up later as they do not have school the next day. The star party committee will try to avoid star parties on Friday nights when there is a new moon.

Board Meeting will be Monday April 9, at 7:30 PM at Veasey.

Meeting adjourned at 9:00 PM

Respectfully submitted,

John Hobbs, Secretary NSAAC



Youth Program Development Plans

The Young Astronomer Program has been finding kids with a keen interest in astronomy and matching them up with telescopes of their own for eight years now. With this year’s awards, we will have paired up over two-dozen Young Astronomers with telescopes. What we’ve done for them after receiving their telescopes has been limited to having a member at Veasey park on our designated “Youth Nights” to provide assistance if needed to any young members who show up.

The mother of one of our previous YAP award recipients recently contacted us. Her son was expressing a desire to interact with other kids who were interested in telescopes. It hit me at once that we had not sponsored any activities that provided these kids the means to interact with each other!

On May 11th or 12th we’ll be sponsoring a special observing event for our YAP members, and their family and friends. The Sonoma County Astronomical Society is the club in California from which I modeled our YAP program. They’ve been pairing up telescope with kids via an essay contest for over twenty-five years now and they have a youth club as a sub-club of their own. Imagine that, amateur astronomy is not a graying hobby on the West Coast! Info on their youth program is here:

I am inviting the members of the club who are interested in helping with the development of programs for our young astronomer members to join me on a new Youth Committee. Help does not always require work, sometimes just ideas. Please contact me if you’d like to be on the

Youth Committee mailing list or if you just want to pass on your ideas to me.

Kevin Ackert
Star Party News

There were two star parties in March. At the Holten-Richmond Middle School in Danvers on Thursday March 8th, Ted Blank gave the presentation to about 60 students and parents and scopes were provided by Bill Drown, Jin Bastable, Bryan Stone, John Hobbs, Brewster LaMacchia and Ted Blank. Fred Sammartino continued with his star parties for Cub Scouts in North Reading on March 30th with scopes provided by John Hobbs and Brewster LaMacchia.

Fred also hosted a group of cub scouts from Melrose at the Merrimack observatory on March 27th. The troop made a $60 donation to the club. 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


New NSAAC Web Site About to Launch

As part of our club’s communications initiative we are very happy to announce that we will be launching the club’s new public website in April. Currently we are targeting the weekend of April 28th for the launch of the new public website. The launch of the new public website is a key milestone in our communications plan and will help enable us to increase our public outreach and improve awareness of NSAAC in general.

We expect that the website update process will be very quick, however I would encourage the club membership to backup any photos or files that you might currently have on both the Public & Member-Only portions of our current website as a precaution. Thanks to the kind assistance of

Brewster LaMacchia the current Public & Member websites will be archived in case anything was missed during the migration to the new site. During the migration to the new public website there will be no interruption to the club Listserv and email addresses. During the week after the launch of the new public website we will add the new member-only area to the website.

I would like to thank the Board and especially Brewster LaMacchia for all of the work that has gone into the website update, and you – the club membership – for your patience and suggestions.

Ed Burke,


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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