On 19 June 2018 the Santa Fe Stargazers met at the Vista Grande Library for their regular monthly meeting. We were glad to welcome several new members: James Kraemer, Annette Moreale, Jim Eagle, and Betsy Foree.
Following introductions, Tom Aldern presented and led a discussion on SFS Outreach preparation and planning considerations, and best practices for safe and successful observing events. Tom’s goal was that the presentation become a “living document”, informed and updated by the evenings discussion and future experience. By that and all other measures the presentation was a success: there was active participation by all meeting attendees. Tom has updated the presentation, which is now available on the Club’s web site through a link on the Outreach page.
Following Tom’s presentation we had refreshments, kindly provided by Jim Baker, and turned to the “business” part of the meeting.
The Outreach Working Group report was given by Tom, who updated us on planned and pending outreach events through October.
Sam Finn reported on the forthcoming 29 June Club Observing event, followed by a longer discussion on the Club’s Dark Skies Advocacy effort, which is currently rate-limited by a lack of active volunteers.
Jim Baker discussed plans for our July and September meetings. The possibility of an August SFS picnic was raised and discussed. It was decided that the SFS would plan for an August BYOF picnic, possibly advertised as welcoming the public and with ‘scopes present. Hyde Park (shelter #3) was raised as a potential venue.
Following these working group reports the members present discussed two other outreach opportunities: the 11 November Mercury transit and a combination outreach/advocacy program in Eldorado at Santa Fe in August.
Most of the November 2019 transit will be viewable from Santa Fe (the ingress takes place before local sunrise). Following this transit it will be 30 years until the next transit visible from the Santa Fe area (May 2049). SFS members have at least three solar scopes available for viewing the event, and may have two more by the time of the event. There was general enthusiasm for coordinating the event with the local Eldorado Middle School (K-8): what is needed is someone who will take the lead in organizing the event and coordinating with the middle school. As currently staffed the Outreach Working Group is stretched thin with events whose planning is already underway; however, it will look into whether it can take this one on.
The second event discussed briefly was a August or September “Star Gaze”, which would be a combination outreach/dark skies advocacy event. The venue would be Compadres Park. Posters and other material would show the effects of light pollution (from local homes and the Eldorado Middle School, the Vista Grande/285 gas station, the state prison to the west and Santa Fe to the North) in the 285 Corridor area. Other material would provide homeowners and concerned residents with things they can do at their homes to mitigate light pollution, and ways they can help advocate with local government and businesses to reduce light pollution and trespass.
The ability to hold this event as planned depends crucially on the Dark Skies Advocacy Working Group, which currently has just one active volunteer (Sam). A call for volunteers to help on this specific event will be made before the next meeting. The outcome of that call will determine whether this event will go forward with or without an advocacy focus.
The meeting adjourned at 9:30 PM. Our next meeting will be held beginning at 7 PM at the Vista Grande Library. Sam Finn will be speak on “Gravitational Wave Astronomy”, which was the focus of his career as a researcher and professor of physics, astronomy and astrophysics.