The January 2021 meeting of the Santa Fe Stargazers began at 7:00 PM MDT on January 20, 2020 with 15 members in attendance. We had several new members joining us for the first time, who were invited to introduce themselves. We then turned to the evenings featured speaker, ‘Gazer Albert Schultz, who gave us a very informative presentation on lunar observations, geography, and geology. As a bonus, he talked a bit about binoculars as observing tools, focusing on the different types of binoculars what to look for when contemplating a purchase. You can view a recording of Albert’s presentation here.
Following Albert’s presentation, Sam Finn described a recent meeting of the Rose City Astronomers, which he was invited to attend. With ~660 members, RCA is among the largest amateur astronomer clubs in the US. As with many/most/all? clubs they have onlined as many of their activities as is possible during the current public health emergency. In addition to their monthly meetings – held via zoom during this public health emergency – these include “Thursday Dinner” and “Friday Lunch” with the RCA, a telescope workshop, an astro-imaging special interest group meeting.
The meeting Sam attended had ~100 participants. This is – at least for their online meetings – typical. RCA general meetings are organized a bit differently than our own, and include a couple of additional features. Their meetings begin with ~30 minutes devoted to general schmoozing, followed by a short (~15 min) “business meeting”, an ~15 min “Monthly Sky Report”, and then an ~1 hour presentation.
The Monthly Sky Report was a particular fun feature and one that we may wish to try-out. Bearing in mind that Sam has not watched TV in 40+ years, it reminded him of the “weather” segment of the local evening news. Back in the day – and today also? – the local weather was the “comic relief” of the local evening news: high energy, humorous, and touching upon current events generally related to weather, as well as the weather itself. With this in mind, the RCA Monthly Sky Report was also high energy, humorous, and reviewed astronomy, space science & technology, & astro/aeronautic, anniversaries, and “people” happenings of the previous month, and expectations for the coming month: e.g,. planets in the sky (locations, sizes, magnitudes, motion), constellations coming into optimum location and featured eye-candy and challenge objects, ISS passages, etc. It was all accompanied by a relatively rapid fire, graphics heavy powerpoint/keynote slide stack.
After a short discussion it was agreed that Sam and Jim Eagle would touch base and discuss inaugurating our own version of a Monthly Sky Report feature which, if it is thought successful, would, month-to-month, rotate through club members as presenters.
Following the discussion of the RCA meeting, Sam informed the meeting of the formation of a new group – Save The Night Sky 285 – whose focus is on reducing light pollution along the 285 Corridor. The initial group consists of a mailing list of 16 residents along the 285 corridor. Ten were able to attend the inaugural (virtual) meeting on Monday, 18 January. There is a great deal of enthusiasm for local action focused on encouraging enforcement of the NM Night Sky Act, County Ordinances, and HOA Covenants and guidelines. The group’s immediate goal is to build its numbers, create a web presence and communication infrastructure, and make its presence and interests known, both generally and specifically by County Commissioners, HOA Boards, and area businesses. All interested persons – including especially Santa Fe Stargazers! – are welcome to join, For more information contact Sam at <moc.d1665329511uolci1665329511@nnif1665329511sl1665329511>.
One of our newer members – Thomas Blog – chimed in that there was considerable interest in night sky protection and preservation along the “599 Corridor”, including especially the La Tierra area. The suggestion was made that Thomas might try to set-up a local group in that area, parallel to Save The Night Sky 285, that would focus on local issues and coordinate with Save The Night Sky 285 on approaches to the County Commissioners and the State. Sam offered to discuss this further off-line.
Albert Schultz updated the club on other night sky preservation activities being undertaken by a Los Alamos area group, and by several of area National Park resources.
The Santa Fe Stargazer’s next meeting will be held on February 17, 2021. The February meeting will feature ‘Gazer Sam Finn, who will speak on Stellar Evolution and the Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram.
Please remember that the Club’s web site is available for posting observing reports. Any observer who wishes to take advantage of this opportunity should contact Sam, who will create a web site account and forward an excellent set of instructions on how to create observing report posts, drafted by Robert Powers. Additionally, time will be reserved at future meetings for any ‘Gazer to share a oral report of any recent observing opportunities they’ve taken advantage of.
There being no other business the meeting adjourned at 9:15 PM MDT.