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February 2010

February 2010 BAS Meeting Notes

The Search for a Dark Site
Steve Plank presented a program about the club's on-going search for a suitable dark observing site.  Locations under consideration include Osage Hills State Park, Camp McClintock (the Boy Scout Camp) and the Wah-Sha-She campground entrance at Hulah Lake.  Steve presented descriptions of each location as well as a  picture of the Osage Hills site.  Members discussed the use of Camp McClintock and pointed out that in the past, BAS has used a cement slab at Osage Hills for observing.  Steve informed the club that we now have a "use agreement" with Oklahoma Parks and Recreation that will allow us to use Osage Hills State Park, Hulah Lake and Copan Lake locations for private club observing.  It's unclear at this time whether public events at those locations would expose the club and members to liability risks.  Arden explained that the Oklahoma City Astronomy Club acquired their dark site by promoting their not-for-profit, tax exempt status to interested land owners.  Steve will continue to pursue additional contacts for these and other sites. 

The Search for a Not-So-Dark, But Close and Convenient Observing Site
In addition to searching for a dark site, it has become clear that the club could benefit from having a nearby, in-town location where club members and others interested in astronomy could meet on short notice for casual observing and stargazing.  The compromise in sky conditions would be offset by the close accessibility and minimal planning required for such a site.  In addition to providing a convenient place for members to observe the sky and test and compare equipment, such an observing site would also be good for introducing novices and new members to astronomy.  Please forward your site suggestions to Steve Plank or John Grismore.

Club Outreach
Steve also initiated a discussion about the need to expand club membership and increase our involvement with the community.  He displayed the first page of our existing bylaws, which emphasizes that the purpose of the club is "to promote interest in astronomy" and "to encourage the activities of amateur astronomers".  Steve then displayed a recent Sky and Telescope article titled, "Missing Young Astronomers.  What Can We Do About It?"  A good discussion followed, addressing these issues, past club activities and events, our goal to begin providing public astronomy events, and the associated necessity for liability insurance, which would be an ongoing cost that we can't currently afford.  Increasing membership and increasing dues were mentioned as possible ways to solve the liability insurance expense problem. It was also suggested that we need to cultivate members who enjoy working with new members and people less familiar with astronomy.

Treasurer's Report Needed
In a short discussion about newsletter format and meeting structure, it was pointed out that we should have a treasurer's report during the business portion of each meeting.  Since Milt is our Treasurer, but is unable to attend most of our meetings because of his work in Fort Worth, we need a volunteer to provide the report at each meeting.  Volunteers are requested to get their names in early, since this will be a first come first serve opportunity.  The Treasurer's report should probably also be included in the meeting notes emailed after each meeting.

Night Sky Program for Schools
Joyce Ritchie reported that Todd Rhodes, of Wayside Elementary School, would like to have us provide our Night Sky program on the Wayside playground after spring break, between March 22 and April 9.  Todd teaches the Gifted and Talented program throughout the Bartlesville school system.  Regardless of whether he arranged for our program to be presented to the gifted and talented, or to all regular Wayside classes, the number of students, along with interested parents, would be too many people for one night.  He would prefer that we present our program for two or three nights.  We'll need to recruit all the binoculars, telescopes and observers that we can to make this an interesting event for the kids.  It's important to begin preparing now for this event, including indoor astronomy activities in the event of bad weather.  Joyce will coordinate the planning.

There was some discussion at the meeting about future programs.  Suggestions for topics included, Collimating a Telescope (with a demonstration and hands on time), How to Select and Buy a Telescope, and a Show and Tell Night (with several people bringing some of their gear to talk about).  We may also have a future program about recent 2012 Doomsday predictions.  Now would be a good time to establish a list of future programs.  Volunteers willing to present a program on any topic of interest, including those above, should contact John Grismore or Jim Vogh, and will be much appreciated.  Having a list of future programs will significantly improve meeting planning.

Next Meeting
Monday, March 1, in the Bartlesville Public Library Meeting Room A, Joyce Ritchie will present her second program on tips for teaching astronomy to students.  This program will focus on teaching to students in grades 5 through 8.

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