July 15, 2020 Meeting Minutes

On July 15, twelve Santa Fe Stargazers met via Zoom for its regular monthly meeting. Several new members joined the ‘Gazers for the first time and we introduced ourselves all the way around.

The main feature of the program was Dr. Tony Gomez, a local Eldorado-area amateur, who talk with the ‘Gazers about “What Astrophotography is Really About and Things to Consider so You Don’t make Costly Mistakes (with hints of being a beginner guide and a little bit of my journey).” Tony’s presentation covered the basic equipment – mount, camera, and optics – needed to begin, and the important considerations that need to be considered in acquiring each of these.

Perhaps the most important lesson that Tony delivered was that astrophotography is, shall we say, one part data acquisition and 99 parts data processing: the raw images collected by even the finest amateur equipment require substantial, sophisticated processing before they become the beautiful images one sees, e.g., on the web or in S&T. Tony has kindly made his presentation available on our web site. Those ‘Gazers interested in getting into astrophotography are fortunate to have Tony as a resource.

Following Tony’s presentation Jim Baker reviewed the status of our Dark Sky Advocacy working group. The group, which consists of Jim Baker (wrangler), Albert Shultz, Robert Powers, and Sam Finn, have settled on a broad focus for an opinion/editorial piece, which will be distributed via the ‘Gazer’s web site and include links to resources to help readers take action. Each member of the group has a specific work assignment – writing, preparing the web site, developing support resources – and the group as a whole will – under Jim’s direction – review and provide high-level feedback on successive drafts.

The last item of business was the program for our next meeting, which will take place Wednesday, August 19. The main feature of this meeting will be a “Show-and-Tell/Audience Participation” of every ‘Gazers favorite Hubble Space Telescope image. For this to work every – and we mean every – ‘Gazer should

  • Visit the HST Image Archive;
  • Select three (3) “favorite” images (* see note! below);
  • Bring those images to the August 19 meeting and be prepared to explain why each appeals to you.

“Favorite” is a deliberately vague but evocative term: an image may be a favorite for aesthetic reasons, for scientific reasons, because it reminds you of somewhere, something, or someone, etc. All that is necessary is that it is a favorite for some reason that you are willing to describe to the group. At the meeting we will each describe our first favorite image. After everyone has shared their first choice, we will go around again to share our our second favorite. If time permits we will then share the third our favorite images.

Note! When choosing your favorites, there are two rules: no one can choose Pillars of Creation, and no one can choose the Deep Field. Also, Jim has dibs on Ant-in-a-tutu (aka Eta Car). Beyond that, anything goes!

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