President Hocker called the October Business Meeting of the NSAAC to order at 8:10 PM. There were ten members present plus five Board members. There were two guests, Mike Lalumiere and Warren Egesliem. There was a quorum. Meeting was official.
Minutes of the September Business meeting were approved by acclamation.
Kevin Ackert gave a brief report including the loss and profit statement for the month.
There are currently 100 members in good standing.
Early Meeting Announcements:
Open forum on the agenda after New Business
Kevin Ackert opened on Wednesday the 24th and the observatory was in poor shape due to a fire. Kevin had about 18 visitors.
Dennis Gudzevich opened the 8th with 28 visitors mostly students, on the 15th with 33 students, and on the 22nd with 64 students. He does not know why so many students are showing up.
News, Correspondence, and Upcoming Activities:
Kevin received a letter from the IRS relating to the IRS postcard which he returned earlier. Apparently, the postcard arrived too late and they have sent a more detailed form for him to fill out and send back. He will take care of it immediately.
Star Party Committee:
Star Party Coordinator Brewster LaMacchia reported that we had a great star party at Battis Farm in Amesbury on Friday night September 19th. As people were coming and going a head count was tough to get, but he tried to greet each group of people as they walked down the path and he tallied about 60 and probably missed some when running his scope.
Saturn and Mars were both low in the west at dusk. Saturn’s rings were clearly visible, if fuzzy. Mars was a flaming color ball, but in the fleeting moments of stillness you could see it was a reddish disk that wasn’t quite round looking (it’s 87% illuminated now). After those objects scopes were placed on a range of items for the attendees, just about every faint fuzzy that shows well. Though the light pollution to the south was bad, the Milky Way and a faint impression of the dust lanes could be seen overhead in Cygnus. Kevin Ackert should get a prize for finding the Dumbbell Nebula in less than 5 seconds.
Conditions were clear up until about 9:30, when some high clouds starting coming in and by 9PM a combination of dew and frost started attacking us. The plus side was there were no bugs. Scopes were provided by Kevin Ackert, Richard Leucke, Brewster LaMacchia, Kevin Hocker, and John Hobbs.
Another clear Friday night at Battis Farm with even better viewing conditions than the first star party the week before led to another great night. Despite a smaller number of sign-ups we had a crowd at least as big, if not bigger than the 60+ people that came the prior week. The age ranged of attendees stretched from 4 to 70. Attendees were very enthusiastic, people probably stayed on average for an hour or more. More than a few kids had to be dragged away by their parents.
Like the week before, we started on Saturn and Mars early, before they set (Battis has clear horizon to the west). Though fuzzy due to atmospheric turbulence, Saturn’s rings were clearly visible, along with Titan. From there scopes where put on a large assortment of double stars, open clusters, globular clusters, nebula, and galaxies. A number of bright meteors were also seen between 8:30 and 9:00 – Brewster spotted 4, which was kind of surprise given the early hour and we weren’t specifically watching for them – though we were looking up a lot.
Brewster set up his solar system model along the dirt road from the parking lot to the observing area to provide a scale of the solar system, but a number of planet’s batteries ran out not long after dark. A low fog settled into parts of the field and by 10 the dew was pretty heavy. Unlike the prior Friday there wasn’t a layer of frost/ice on everything, and again there were almost no bugs.
A Huge thanks goes out to club members Dan Smoody, Kevin Hocker, Dick Luecke, John Brucker, and Mark Salvetti for supporting this event.
Upcoming star parties:
Tuesday, October 14th at Glen Urquhart School, Beverly, MA, cloud date: October 16th
Tuesday, October 21st at Sanborn School, Andover, MA, cloud date: October 23rd
Tuesday, October 28th at Pollard School, Plaistow, NH. To be held at the new
observatory at Timberlane Regional High School, cloud date: October 30th
The club still would like to find other volunteers to do star party presentations. If anyone is interested please contact Brewster LaMacchia.
Also, we need more volunteers for the operation of the telescope at Merrimack College. If interested contact either Kevin Ackert or Fred Sammartino.
The town of Groveland has given use permits for Strawberry fields for October 17th, 18th, 24th and 25th. No additional permits will be given for the rest of the year. Bryan Stone provided a report on the observing qualities of the field. Big advantage was low horizons, can go into middle of field and avoid car lights. Cars did raise some dirt that can get on scopes, the ground is sloppy in that the heavier scopes and mounts tended to sink and needed to be re-calibrated. Light dome at Strawberry Fields is better than at Battis Farm..
Ron Sampson has the banner info and was trying to get it made. Because of the lack of interest the club decided to table this item until later.
Kevin Ackert and Dennis Gudzevich gave a report on the last visit to Starport. There was very good viewing. Saw NGC 891, 253, and the Able galaxy group in Perseus. Also looked at the usual bight Messier objects.
Richard Leucke used Dark Park and found it to be good except for the light dome to the southeast which is normal for this area.
Kevin Ackert announced that he is resigning as the YAP coordinator. He says he dropped the ball and did not get out the announcements in a timely manner last year. He is hoping that someone would take it over and use the internet more effectively to get the word out about the program. So the club is looking for someone to take over this activity. He recalled that he liked Dan Smoody’s suggestions on how to run the program. Dan Smoody declined to be the head of the program. Kevin suggested maybe a YAP committee. Ed Burke suggested that we get a database for science teachers in the area and do a fancy email to all of them. Ed Burke suggested looking at the Mass Science Teachers.org. The YAP committee includes Kevin Ackert, Ed Burke, and Kevin Hocker. Claudia Keller indicated she has contacts with other science teachers.
The May Board meeting date will be Friday Oct 17th at time and location TBD.
Meeting adjourned 9:30 PM.
John Hobbs, Secretary NSAAC