May 20, 2020 Meeting Minutes

Beginning at 7:00 PM on May 20, 2020, eleven members of the Santa Fe Stargazers met via Zoom to hear a presentation on Planetary Nebulae by ‘gazer Tom Aldern. In his presentation Tom discussed the discovery and observational history of PN, their prevalence in the Milky Way, their appearance, catalogs of PN useful for amateurs who want to observe a wide variety of them, and observational techniques and tools useful for helping to identify and study them.

Following Tom’s presentation, Albert Shultz gave us an update on an on-line presentation focusing on the status of lighting and light pollution in the Los Alamos area, hosted by the Pajarito Environmental Education Center. At the moment efforts to build a NM IDSA chapter appear to in hiatus. Hopefully these will resume once this period of intense social distancing is no longer necessary and more traditional methods of reaching, educating, and activating community members become possible again. 

Robert Powers described work that he and Sam Finn have undertaken to make it possible for any and all SFS members to share their own observing reports on the SFS web site. There is no preferred format for these reports: however you care to describe how you enjoyed your evening out and under the stars is what we want to hear! You can see two different styles of observing reports – one by Robert, one by Sam – on the Observing section of our web site, where the most recent five postings are highlighted. Robert has put together a step-by-step guide to the mechanics of posting your report on the web site: Go to it!

Sam Finn updated club members on discussions held within our outreach group on SFS participation in outreach events through the remainder of the calendar year. The unanimous view of the outreach group is that in the present public health environment the risks involved – to ourselves and others – are too great to consider hosting SFS outreach events, or participating in outreach events hosted by others. Correspondingly the Santa Fe Stargazers will not as an organization sponsor, co-sponsor, participate in, or encourage others to participate in, any outreach events this calendar year. [As with all decisions of this kind, this decision is subject to reconsideration in the event of dramatic changes in the public health environment.]

Following the discussion of member observing reports, Jim Baker introduced a meeting schedule and programming discussion for the remainder of the calendar year. Ordinarily – if one year of experience can be considered to have established a default – SFS meetings are held every month except for August, November, and December (the traditional vacation travel, Thanksgiving travel, and winter holiday travel months). This year there is likely to be little or no travel August or November (or December for that matter), suggesting that we might continue SFS meetings these months. SFS members in attendance enthusiastically agreed to continue meeting through November. There followed a brief discussion of meeting programming for the ensuing months. Peter Lipscomb is already scheduled to talk with us at our June meeting. Sam offered to find an external speaker for our July meeting. Jim suggested that for our August meeting we hold a “chew the fat” style meeting, with each member bringing their favorite Hubble Space Telescope image to share and saying a few words about why that image appeals to them as a way of opening discussion. [The only ground rules would be no one can share either the “Pillars of Creation” or “Hubble Deep Field” image!]. More information will be forthcoming in the August Meeting Announcement. If you want to start perusing images now, you can find a collection here.

Finally, Tony Bonanno raised an exciting piece of new business: the possibility of a donation to the SFS of a excellent condition Takahashi-Mewlon telescope, to be used for outreach, community events, and member observing. Sam, Tony, Jim Baker will explore this possibility further. Other SFS members are welcome to join in these discussions; if you are interested get in touch with Sam.

It being a beautiful, clear, dark night, the meeting adjourned at 9:00 PM so that members could be out under the stars for astronomical twilight at 9:45 PM. 

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