Minutes of the November 12, 2013 Meeting

by Michael Wright, Secretary

Director Jeff Bernardis opened the meeting and announced that the club has 2014 Astronomy calendars for sale at $10 each.

Program Chair Kate Otto introduced the speaker for the evening, member Rex Parker who presented “Galaxies, Comets, and Pixels from the High Desert” in which he talked about his recent astrophotography workshop with Adam Block at the University of Arizona’s Mt. Lemmon Sky Center. He showed images that he took with the 32-inch R-C Schulman Telescope and SBIG STX16803 CCD Camera and discussed the astrophotographic possibilities when using this equipment under dark skies. Members asked many questions about creating the images and the facility. Jeff suggested that the club should consider organizing a trip to Tucson.

After a brief break, Jeff convened the business portion of the meeting.

StarQuest – Michael Wright announced that the Hope Conference Center has been booked for September 26-28, 2014 for StarQuest. Ludy D’Angelo has agreed to cater the event if the club decides to self-cater again. Volunteers are needed to help organize the event if the club wants to have a speaker, raffles and other activities; otherwise, it will be only an observing event. Jeff suggested that a request for volunteers be published in Sidereal Times.

Sidereal Times – Mike W. announced that the deadline for Sidereal Times is Nov. 28. Also he needs the speaker’s information so he can send out the press release on Nov. 26.

Treasurer’s Report – Michael Mitrano said that there has been no substantial change in finances since the report in the November Sidereal Times. Dues are now past due. In January, he will send a reminder letter to any delinquent members, which usually brings in the remaining dues.

Program Chair’s Report – Kate Otto announced that the December speaker will be Derek Pitts, Director of the Franklin Institute’s Fells Planetarium. A Princeton graduate student will probably speak in January. John Grunsfeld, veteran of five Space Shuttle flights and former NASA Chief Scientist, has been invited to speak next year.

Simpson Observatory – Observatory Chair Gene Ramsey reported that he would be hosting 15 students from the Lawrenceville School at Washington-Crossing. He is training two new keyholders, who he expects to finish their training soon. This still leaves us about five short of the goal of having five or six keyholders on each team.

Gene requested permission to install a window in the computer room door, which sparked a debate about the need for a window in the door and a discussion about alternatives such as a camera. Jeff put the question to a vote and an overwhelming majority approved it.

Jeff said that the installation of the Gemini mount was cancelled. It was suggested that the work should be postponed until the spring due to the weather. Ludy reminded that the work was postponed last fall until the spring, and it still has not been completed. He urged that it be done now. The work was scheduled for November 26. Mike W. agreed to email a reminder.

Rex commented that public nights this year were very well attended. Jeff said that he would thank keyholders for their work in the next Sidereal Times.

Jen Skitt asked for help repairing the stereo system because it doe not produce any sound. Ludy volunteered to look at it. Gene confirmed that the microwave and cart were removed from the observatory.

New Observatory Donation – The dome, OTA, mount, camera, computer and other equipment was picked up from the donor. The dome is divided between Jeff’s garage and John Giles’ storage. John Miller has the computer. Ludy has the mount and OTA. Jeff said that the club should decide what to do with the donation so we are not imposing on these members to store the equipment. Gene asked if the scope has been tested. The answer was “No”. Ludy said the OTA is a Fastar version of the C14 that allows a camera to be mounted in place of the secondary mirror. It is very clean and appears to be well stored. The Paramount is almost brand new. Jeff said the dome is in pieces, and we do not know whether we have all the required hardware to reassemble it. If the club was to sell it, we would have to offer it as-is, which would command a lower price.

Rex questioned whether there is a committed group within the club that will see the project to completion. Jeff said that he was confident that the planning committee would have completed construction of the observatory, but he could not say whether they were still willing to do so after their plan was rejected. Rex said he thought the plan was fine but the concern of the membership was the commitment to complete the project.

Rex suggested the club look at alternative plans such as swapping out the existing C14 for the new one or mounting a C14 and the Hastings-Byrne on the new Paramount on the Hastings-Byrne’s pier. John Church and Rex debated whether it was feasible. Mike W. suggested that rather than try to engineer a scheme at this meeting, someone should prepare a list of alternatives for the next meeting. The best three or four alternatives could be select from that list and then their feasibility studied in detail. Jeff requested that members email potential alternatives to him.

Michael M. asked if the camera could be brought to the observatory so it could be tried on the existing C14. Rex suggested that it be tested on his scope. Ludy agreed to coordinate.

Outreach Report – David Letcher reported that the next outreach event on the calendar is Science Night at the Newell Elementary School in Allentown, NJ on Friday, November 15, 2013. The school is on High Street (CR 539).

Website – John Miller requested permission to increase the storage on the server from 1GB to 10GB, which will increase the annual cost from $39 to $77. The officers present agree to his request. John is also setting up a Flickr site to host the club’s photograph collection.

Jenny Jump Observatory – Bill Murray reported that the rotten wood was replaced and painted, and the electrical enclosure was repaired. He is going to put the equipment back on the scope. Chris Calli of UACNJ has agreed to monitor the observatory. Bill suggested that the club consider refurbishing the scope. One task that should be done is recoating the mirror, which would cost $100 to $200.

Jeff adjourned the meeting.

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