September 16, 2020 Meeting Minutes

On 16 Septmber the Santa Fe Stargazers convened for their regular September meeting . Sam Finn called the meeting to order at 7 PM. Sixteen members were in attendance. The evening’s featured presentation was by member Jim Eagle, who spoke primarily on observing Mars during its upcoming opposition. Jim’s presentation can be found here

Jim pointed-out two important features of the current Mars apparition. First, it is a perihelic apparition: that is, Mars is relatively near perihelion during this apparition; so, it will appear larger and brighter than during most other apparitions. Second, Mars will be high in the sky for Northern Hemisphere observers: during the past few apparitions Mars has been low in the South. Together these make for a very favorable observing opportunity. 

Jim also drew attention to four other planets now in the night sky: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Jupiter and Saturn are both well positioned for observation in the hours just after sunset, while Neptune and Uranus rise later and are better positioned for observation after midnight. 

Following Jim’s presentation the ‘Gazers held a brief business meeting. Robert Powers reminded us of our early spring decision to cease in-person outreach events unless and until public health considerations no longer advised against. He noted that our two most prominent partners – Pecos National Historic Park and Fort Union National Monument – have also not scheduled any events. Sam Finn suggested that we might consider public lectures, held over Zoom, as a means of outreach. Following a brief discussion members who might be interested in pursuing this possibility were asked to contact Robert and Sam. 

Jim Baker updated the group on the planned dark sky advocacy opinion/editorial, being spearheaded by a working group consisting of Albert Shultz, Jim Baker, Robert Powers, and Sam Finn. The target for this opinion/editorial is Eldorado Living or a similar outlet. Robert Powers has produced a solid draft that has been through two iterations. Accompanying the publication the Santa Fe Stargazers plans a set of web pages with supporting information on issues touched on in Robert’s opinion/editorial, and actions interested readers can take to reduce their light footprint. Research on those issues is nearing completion, following which the web site will be prepared and reviewed by the working group. Meanwhile all members of the working group are working on identifying photographs that can accompany the piece. 

Jim Baker reviewed of our programming for the ‘Gazer’s next two meetings. The featured speaker at our October 21 meeting is ‘Gazer David Tiemeyer, who will describe to us the use of telescope arrays for astronomical observations. ‘Gazer Jim Kraemer is the featured speaker at our November 18 meeting, who will describe to us astronomical research taking place at the South Pole. No meeting is planned for December. 

Finally, Jim highlighted a lecture being given by Sam Finn as part of the RENESAN Institute for Lifelong Learning. That lecture, to be held via Zoom on November 5, will review the Historic Detection of Gravitational Waves. 

There being no new business the September meeting of the Santa Fe Stargazers was adjourned at 8:40 PM.  

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