15 February 2023 Meeting Minutes

The Santa Fe Stargazers met for their regular monthly meeting, beginning at 7:00 PM MT and adjourning at 9:45 PM MT. Owing to weather this month’s meeting was Zoom-only.

Tom Aldern gave a brief and to-the-point Monthly Sky Report, focusing on the 83 anniversary of the discovery of Pluto and the associated Pluto-Fest at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, and the curious tale of Ranger 6: the first of the Ranger’s to make it to the Moon, but still a mission failure owing power and video-camera failures traceable to a spurious power-on instruction during launch and associated power-supply failure.

Our featured speaker was Lloyd Smith, co-founder of Deep Sky West. Deep Sky West is a remote observing facility operating on nearby Glorieta Mesa. Lloyd described Deep Sky Wests’s origin story, its different operating models, and its expansion plans. Together with Stargazers in attendance he discussed equipment that was currently available that could be used for outreach involving, e.g., local-area high-school students.

Following the featured presentation the Stargazers turned to an extended discussion of outreach and observing plans for the upcoming year. Currently “on the books” are six outreach events supporting the science class at the New Mexico School for the Arts and the Santa Fe Conservation Trust. In addition to these, Jim Gass has volunteered to lead a task force organizing the Fall National Astronomy Day (Sep 22), which will tentatively include daytime solar observations and information on the Oct 14 “Ring of Fire” annular solar eclipse. The club also discussed expanding its portfolio of outreach event with semi-regular evening outreach observing from the Vista Grande Public Library (VGPL) parking lot. Jim Baker has also volunteered to organize a roughly quarterly “Telescope Clinic” at the VGPL. The aim of the “Clinic” is to connect experienced club telescope users with community members who have perhaps recently acquired a telescope but are unsure how to use it.

For the October 14 annular eclipse, Albert Shultz has reserved a picnic area at Pine Flat, about 90 minutes drive from the Santa Fe Plaza. The picnic area is right on the center line and should be a great location for club members to observe the eclipse. Monthly club dark-sky observing will resume next month at the Cowboy Shack. Jim Eagle will continue in his role as Observing Tsar.

Next Month’s Featured Presentation will be on the Parker Solar Probe. It will be given by Mission Operations Director Dr. Apurva Varia, of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Next Month’s Monthly Sky Report will be given by Jim Eagle; the April Monthly Sky Report will be given by Robert Powers. We still need volunteers for May and onward.

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