After a months hiatus, the Santa Fe Stargazers met on 18 September for their regular monthly meeting. The meeting began with a presentation by Jim Baker, recently returned from a trip to Argentina to observe the July total solar eclipse and do some trekking and observing in the Atacama desert. While the trip did not go as plan Jim turned his experience into a set of lessons-learned, which he shared with us. His presentation is linked here.
Following the presentation and refreshments we briefly reviewed the status of the active working groups. The Outreach group reported on three events: two observing events and one training event. Both observing events were held scheduled at Fort Union. A July 27 event was called on account of weather, while a 30 August event supported by Tom Aldern and Jim Eagle went ahead but with limited success owing to racing clouds and a shower.
The training event was held by the National Park Service at Pecos National Historic Park. Ranger Raeder Lane, the NPS organizer of the Grand Canyon Star Party (South Rim) was the instructor for a two-day training and hands-on (eyes-on?) workshop for rangers from many of the Southwest area Parks. The Santa Fe Stargazers were invited to join the workshop, which included technical and historical background on constellations and their asterisms, and on the development of programs for the public. Robert Powers, Tom Aldern, and Sam Finn were able to participate in the training.
Up-coming events include National Astronomy Day (5 October) and the 11 November Mercury Transit program, which will also be held at the VPGL. Sam discussed a straw-man program for the Mercury transit program, which will include posters and solar observing in the VGPL parking lot.
The Observing group scheduled two observing events (3 August and 31 August); however, both were called on account of weather. We are all hopeful that, with the end of the monsoon season, the next event – 28 September at the Cowboy Shack – will be a go.
The Meetings group briefly discussed plans for our next meeting (16 October), which is also expected to be the last of the calendar year. In addition to a presentation by Jim Baker on the upcoming Mercury Transit we will review our first six months of programming as the Santa Fe Stargazers, taking stock of what we have accomplished and setting goals for the 2020 calendar year.
The last 30 minutes of the meeting were given over to a review of the National Astronomy Day program, as planned by Tom Aldern. The program Tom described is an ambitious one, with several day-time programs and solar observing, and night-time observing at the VGPL, and is being supported by a good half-dozen Santa Fe Stargazers. It’s also the first program that the Santa Fe Stargazers have planned – soup-to-nuts – by themselves. It shows every sign of being a great success. I expect it will set a standard for future programs.
The meeting adjourned at 9:20 PM.