Fourteen members of the Santa Fe Stargazers – including three new members – met for the ‘gazers regular, monthly (Zoom) meeting. The original program, which was to feature Peter Lipscomb, was cancelled owing to Peter’s sudden unavailability. In its place, the ‘gazers met their new members, discussed future meeting programming, and a plan to advance its dark sky advocacy program.
Programming: The Santa Fe Stargazers will meet monthly without pause, the third Wednesday of every month, through November 2020. We will skip a December 2020 meeting, resuming in January 2021. Meetings will continue to begin at 7:00 PM. We anticipate all meetings into Spring 2021 will be held via Zoom.
The July 15, 2020 meeting of the ‘gazers will feature Tony Gomez, a local area astrophotographer, who will recount for us his personal journey into astrophotography. You can view some of Tony’s work on AstroBin.
Audience participation will be the theme of our August 19, 2020 meeting. All ‘gazers are asked to bring their 2 favorite Hubble Space Telescope images and be ready to explain why these are your favorites. The only limitation on images is that no one can bring the “Pillars of Creation” image: it’s the favorite of too many!
With the advent of Fall, the September 16, 2020 meeting will feature an overview of the autumn sky, presented by ‘gazer Jim Eagle.
For our October 21, 2020 meeting, ‘Gazer David Tiemeyer will describe the use of telescope arrays in modern astronomical observation.
Finally, for the November 18, 2020 meeting, ‘gazer Jim Kraemer will take us to the South Pole for a look at the broad range of astronomy research conducted there.
Dark Sky Advocacy: Dark Sky advocacy has been a goal of the Santa Fe Stargazers since its inception. While it might seem that effort must, like so many other things, be put on hold during our public health emergency, there are still opportunities for effective and far-reaching advocacy. One, in particular, is the writing and publishing of opinion articles to local area news magazines. To that end, Sam Finn and Jim Baker asked for volunteers to form a working group, whose immediate goal would be identify a local venue and draft an appropriate article advocating for dark skies, which would be submitted by the Santa Fe Stargazers. Albert Shultz, Robert Powers, Sam, and Jim have all agreed to staff the working group, which Jim will chair.
Separately, Jim Baker shared with us his experience in trying to work with his HOA – The Ridges – when a group of members decided they wanted the entry monument illuminated at night. Jim’s story is a cautionary tale, which everyone who is interested in dark sky advocacy learn from. In particular, even among people who regard themselves as naturalists and environmentalists, there is very little appreciation of dark skies as a natural resource that must be conserved if it, and the things that depend upon it, is to survive. A successful dark skies outreach and education program cannot assume that these groups are “with us”: they must be educated and sensitized to the importance of dark skies before we can count on their help.
The Santa Fe Stargazers adjourned shortly before 9:00 PM.