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September 2009

September BAS Meeting Notes

This month we made a last minute switch and met in the meeting room at the Bartlesville Public Library.  This worked out so well that we will try to meet there on a regular basis, if possible.  We will have access to WiFi, as well as a video projector for computer display, which may be very useful for some of our presentations and discussions.  We have already scheduled the room for Monday, October 5 at 7:00 p.m.  If we're quick about rescheduling with Denise at the library early the morning after a meeting, we should have a very good chance of claiming the room for the first Monday of each month.

Astronomy Club of Tulsa (ACT) - Peg and Rick Walker
Peg and Rick were kind enough to travel from Tulsa to attend our meeting and discuss their club's activities, interests and plans.  Peg outlined the decreased activity level of ACT a few years ago and the changes that revitalized their club.  Critical to their success has been an increased focus on public outreach, which has not only attracted many new members, but has also generated considerable additional enthusiasm among the established members.  ACT information handouts, membership application forms and a donation bucket are present at every public function they do.  The International Year of Astronomy 2009 has enhanced this public outreach and made it possible for ACT to have frequent "Sidewalk Astronomy" star parties at Bass Pro Shops, Broken Arrow and Riverwalk Crossing at Jenks.  Overall, ACT has been gaining 2 to 5 new members each month due to these efforts.

In contrast to the public activities, ACT also fosters membership involvement and participation through frequent private club star parties and observing activities, usually centered around their observatory at a dark site near Mounds, OK.  The observatory houses a 14" Meade RCX 400 telescope, and there's plenty of space outside for members to set up scopes for star parties.  ACT has also recently added short "101 classes" to their meetings. These are 15 to 20 minute introductory presentations about specific topics.  Recent meetings have included Telescopes 101, Astrophotography 101 and Filters 101, among others.

Woolaroc Astronomy Event, September 26 - Peg and Rick Walker
This Saturday, September 26, the Astronomy Club of Tulsa and Woolaroc are coordinating a daylong event of solar observing and astronomy.  Besides solar telescopes, there will be stations positioned in locations around the museum with astronomy activities and exhibits.  In addition, a public Black Holes presentation will be given at 3:30 p.m.  When the public leaves at 5:00 p.m. the astronomy volunteers who have signed up will attend a catered meal.  This will be followed by an evening of stargazing for ACT and BAS members as well as Woolaroc staff and donors.  BAS members are invited to assist with the daytime astronomy activities and participate in the star party after dark.  More details are available on page six of the August 2009 ACT Observer newsletter at .

Astronomical League
After the ACT presentation, we conducted a short business meeting.  The most important item was the proposal for our club to rejoin the Astronomical League (our membership lapsed in August 2001).  There are some significant benefits to being a member society of the AL.  High among those is the ability to acquire, at a special rate, liability insurance covering all members for all public events.  We are currently inquiring about the prices for this and will pass on that information when it becomes available.  Members also receive a quarterly publication called the Reflector, as well as discounts on astronomically related books.  The AL also sponsors a series of observing challenge programs and provides certificates for those members completing an observing challenge, such as observing all the Messier objects.

If more than 95% of the membership of a club joins, the cost is $5.00 per member plus a $10.00 club fee.  If less than 95%, the member cost becomes $7.50 per member.  BAS dues have been set at $12.00 for many years to cover the cost of our newsletter, The Sidereal Times.  However, since we are now distributing our newsletters by email, we're no longer paying printing and mailing costs.  So it seems that we should be able to keep the dues as they are and still rejoin the AL.  The members present at the meeting unanimously approved this proposal.  Unless others express opposition to rejoining the AL, we will proceed with this.

Meeting Programs
Another important item discussed was the need for short (15 to 30 minute), informal presentations to provide some structured information that will benefit members and interest visitors at our meetings.  It was widely agreed that this would enhance our meetings.  The difficulty is that our club is open and informal, and nobody wants to twist arms to try to get meeting programs.  The best result would be for members to volunteer.  Hopefully that will begin with our next meeting.  Remember, we're not looking for formal, polished programs.  We'd like something of interest delivered in an informal setting.  To volunteer, contact me or Jim Vogh.

Dark Site Ideas
We have at times dreamed idly about how nice it would be to have a reasonably dark observing site located not far outside of town, where any member could go for a short observing session, a night of serious astrophotography or to observe a new comet that suddenly appears in the sky.  We always appreciate Mike Woods' generous invitations to his place for club star parties, and hope to attend many more.  But it would also be nice to have a dedicated club observing site.  Obviously we don't have the money to buy a small piece of land, but this might be a good time to start thinking about other ways we might be able to establish a BAS site.  At the very least we should begin a conversation to brainstorm about the possibilities.

BAS Public Website
A new BAS website has been created specifically to establish our presence on the web when anyone searches for information about astronomy in Bartlesville.  It currently contains a Home page, an Astro Links page, a club events calendar and several of our past newsletters.  I intend to add monthly notes in the near future.  If there's any concern about having some of this information on the internet, let me know soon.  The website is at:

Next Meeting
Monday, October 5 at the Bartlesville Public Library meeting room.  Program to be determined.