Executive Committee Minutes

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  • 30 May 2015 12:03 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The meeting was called to order at 7:09 PM. Present were president Dawn Davies, vice-president Terry Phillips, secretary David Lynch, treasurer Mark Lyon, equipment chair James Hall, member services chair Tim Brown, member at Large David Mathias, secretary-elect Domingo Rochin, treasurer-elect Ani deGroot, members at large-elect Katie Raney and Brian Lippincott, and newsletter editor Joyce Lynch.

    OFFICER AND CHAIR REPORTS

    Treasurer: Wild Apricot, the club’s web host, will be increasing the cost of the current plan from $50 per month to $70 per month, but the existing rate can be locked in for additional time by making a commitment for 1 or 2 years. When the new rate takes effect, the amount of storage available on the plan will increase from 400 MB to 2 GB.

    Equipment: There are no major issues with the equipment in the Eagle Eye Observatory, but leaks in the roof have been observed during heavy rains and some exterior lights need to be replaced or recoated because the red color is fading or chipping. Training documents for the 25” Dobsonian telescope and the rest of the observatory have been created. James Hall moved buying an Accu-Rite weather station for approximately $220 (Dawn Davies second.) The motion carried.

    Member Services: Central Texas Star Party was wet but enjoyable. Saturday evening’s attendance was about 25, or half of the number who paid. Weather permitting, there will be solar observing in lieu of a practical astronomy session at the May 8 meeting.

    Outreach: AUTS will be held on July 25 at St. Stephen’s Epispocal School. Neil de Grasse Tyson will be speaking at the long center on June 18. We will be conducting outreach observing on the veranda. A purchase of tickets at the group rate may be possible.

    OLD BUSINESS

    25” Dob: The LCRA has approved modifications to the existing Ruof Observatory to expand the concrete pad. Work would cost about $2,000.

    NEW BUSINESS

    Image claim: The society received a letter from the holder of rights to an image used on the web site demanding $4,440 for use of the image without permission. The treasurer proposed sending $250, which is the cost of a license would have been if it was obtained in advance and enclosing a letter stating that cashing the check constitutes accepting it as payment in full.

    The meeting was adjourned at 8:15 PM.

  • 30 Apr 2015 9:58 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The meeting was called to order at 7:12 PM. Present were president Dawn Davies, vice-president Terry Phillips, secretary David Lynch, member services chair Tim Brown, outreach chair Larry Martin, equipment chair James Hall, members at large David Mathias, and Jim Spigelmire; newsletter editor Joyce Lynch, and members Darren Spohn and Ron Carman.

    OFFICER AND CHAIR REPORTS

    Vice-President: The speaker at the April meeting will be Torvald Hessel of the Texas Museum of Science and Technology; the Constellation of the Month will be Coma Bereneces. The May speaker is still to be confirmed; the meeting will be at Hyde Park Christian Church at 610 E. 45th Street, near Duval. Don Olson from Texas State University is planned in June. 

    Outreach: Five events are planned for April and early May: Meridian World School on 4/11, Wild Basin on 4/16, Arts & Science Science Extravaganza on 4/22, Public Star Party on 4/25, Night of the Planets at Central Market on N. Lamar on 4/30.

    Equipment: The telescopes and display at Eagle Eye Observatory are working well. The covers on the Harlan Smith Telescope have been replaced. The existing weather station at EEO has been removed. Red coverings on some lights need to be repainted/replaced.

    Member Services: Messier Marathon was clouded out. CTSP will occur rain, shine, or clouds. The April practical astronomy session is a roundtable discussion about Texas Star Party; the May practical astronomy speaker is yet to be confirmed. Mansfield Dam star parties have not been held recently due to the regular dates’ proximity to the full moon; a loss of access to the site due to park curfews, which was raised as a potential problem by a member, should not be an issue.

    BUSINESS

    Auction: Dates are to be determined. The club can provide receipts for donated items. 

    Officer Elections will be held at the April meeting. 

    25” Dobsonian: There is no update on when construction will be able to begin on the modifications to the Ruof Observatory.

    Canyon of the Eagles policy and procedures: LCRA does not permit camping on the observing field. Hangtag holders have arrived, but templates are not available. 100 red flashlights have been ordered to be kept at the observatory.

    New observing sites: Jim Spigelmire made a motion to begin a search for a site for members-only events; James Hall seconded and the motion passed. A second motion to create an ad hoc committee comprised of the vice-president, member services chair, equipment chair, a member-at-large, and three club members who are not on the EC was made by Jim Spiglemore and seconded by Larry Martin; the motion passed.

  • 28 Feb 2015 10:05 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The meeting was called to order at 7:17.

    OFFICER AND CHAIR REPORTS

    Vice President: We need a speaker for April. The speaker at the February meeting will be Robert Reeves, rescheduled from January due to weather.

    Communication: There have been issues with the website administration panel being unresponsive.

    Outreach: The Enchanted Rock Star Festival will be held on 2/21; it is being organized by Texas Parks and Wildlife Staff.

    Member Services: The 2015 Messier Marathon will be held at the private star party on March 21. There was a conversation about Member Services prior to the January meeting. There are unconfirmed reports that the park curfew is being enforced at the Mansfield Dam overlook area, which would make Dam Star Parties difficult. Practical Astronomy will be held before the February meeting, but the program is TBD. CTSP has been moved from the May members-only night to April.

    OLD BUSINESS

    25” Dobsonian: There has been no word from CoE on whether expansions to the Ruof Observatory have been approved.

    COE Agreement: The agreement for use of the Eagle Eye Observatory has been completed, but has not yet been signed.

    NEW BUSINESS

    Nominating Committee: The committee will be selected prior to the March meeting.

    Astronomy off the Field: The first event was a success, so the series will continue. Preferences for future locations include counter service and a room which can be set aside for AOTF use.

    The meeting was adjourned at 8:22 PM.

  • 31 Jan 2015 10:04 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    The meeting was called to order at 7:58 PM. Present were president Dawn Davies, vice president Terry Philips, secretary David Lynch, treasurer Mark Lyon, outreach chair Larry Martin, equipment chair James Hall, member services chair Tim Brown, members at large Alan Carruth, David Mathias, and Jim Spiglemire; and newsletter editor Joyce Lynch.

    OFFICER REPORTS

    Vice President: The May meeting will be held at UT-Austin. Usually this meeting conflicts with final exams so another location is required, but it occurs before the beginning of exams this year. Vice President Terry Philips is scheduled to present in February on the birth of the sun. Don Olson from Texas State University will present in June.

    Equipment: New red lights have been placed at the entrance/exit to the parking area and the porta-potty at the Eagle Eye Observatory. New eyepieces have been purchased. The Harlan Smith telescope needs new covers for the ends of its tubes.

    OLD BUSINESS

    A final draft of the agreement with Calibre, operator of the Canyon of the Eagles resort, was presented to the Executive Committee. If there are no objections or changes requested, the draft will be sent to Calibre to signatures.

    Reimers Ranch: Travis County Parks staff would like help with public viewings. Current difficulties for providing that assistance include the 10:00 PM park curfew, entry fee, and need for parks staff to be on site to operate the observatory.

    NEW BUSINESS

    Eagle Eye Observatory schedules: There were disagreements between the list of 2015 events on the observatory page and the main web site calendar. The EC came to a consensus that Jim Chandler will continue to produce the first draft of the schedules for public and members-only star parties, which Canyon of the Eagles management may request to be moved to accommodate holidays or other busy weekends.

    Astronomy off the Field: A test event for Astronomy off the Field will take place on January 29. It will be open to non-members as well as members.

    The meeting was adjourned at 9:22 PM.


  • 30 Dec 2014 10:52 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    The meeting was called to order at 7:14 PM. Present were president Dawn Davies, vice president Terry Phillips, secretary David Lynch, member services chair Tim Brown, outreach chair Larry Martin, equipment chair James Hall, and member at large Jim Spigelmire.

    OFFICER REPORTS

    VP: The January speaker will be Robert Reeves, who has been posting one lunar photo per day. We are attempting to get Dr. James from Sam Houston State.

    Member Services: The Mansfield Dam star parties have been canceled recently due to full moons but remain popular.

    Outreach: Upcoming events include Sadler-Means Young Women’s Academy on December 3, the monthly public star party on December 13, and a solstice event at the Art & Science Gallery in East Austin on December 21.

    Equipment: There have been instances when the observatory has been left unlocked. The slew controls on Ealing are having problems. A new cover for the TV screen at Eagle Eye Observatory will be in place soon. Jim Sheets would like a shade on the TV for solar viewing, and possibly a way to remove the red cover.

    OLD BUSINESS

    Agreement with Canyon of the Eagles: A potential meeting date later in December has been discussed with Calibre.

    The meeting was adjourned at 7:47 PM.


  • 30 Nov 2014 10:51 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    The meeting was called to order at 7:12 PM. Present were president Dawn Davies, vice president Terry Phillips, secretary David Lynch, treasurer Mark Lyon, communications chair Rob Pettingill, outreach chair Larry Martin, equipment chair James Hall, members at large David Mathias, and Jim Spigelmire.

    OFFICER REPORTS

    Vice President: Vice President Terry Phillips will present at the November GA meeting. There will be no speaker in December. No speaker as been confirmed for the January meeting.

    Treasurer: 179 members(roughly 40% of membership) have not renewed for September 2014-August 2015. We are 28 contacts short of 500 on Wild Apricot, so some inactive members will be archived. 5 orders for RASC handbooks have been received; 10 is the minimum for the discounted rate.

    Communications: There have been no contributions for library project. Speaker and practical astronomy information for the November meeting has not been posted to the web site, and should be available earlier. The chair is posting non-AAS events to Night Sky Network under the AS account as well as AAS events.

    Outreach: The Belterra event has been rescheduled. Other upcoming events include 11/13 at Westlake HS. 11/20 at Wild Basin. Public star parties will be 11/15 & 12/13. A solstice event will be held on 12/21.

    Equipment: 12 more observatory operators have been trained. One of the covers for the Harlan Smith telescope tube has torn. One of the solar lights next to the exit from the parking area is missing or broken. The EC approved purchasing a 4.7mm Explore Scientific eyepiece for the Harlan Smith telescope.

    Member Services: A star party etiquette guide will be added to the MS page on austinastro.org.

    OLD BUSINESS

    Auction: We have several telescopes that have been donated. Any auction is unlikely to happen until after the holidays.

    Holiday Party Location: Possible locations: First Presbyterian Church on Mesa (possibly free, or costs TBD.) St. Stephens. McKinney Falls State Park ($225). St. David's Church downtown ($56.25/hour.)

    Canyon of the Eagles/Calibre: There is still no agreement. Calibre has expressed unhappiness at members camping on the field, but LCRA has no objections.

    The meeting was adjourned at 8:02.


  • 30 Oct 2014 10:48 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The meeting was called to order at 7:12 PM. Present were president Dawn Davies, vice president Terry Phillips, secretary David Lynch, treasurer Mark Lyon, communications chair Rob Pettingill, outreach chair Larry Martin, equipment chair James Hall, member services chair Tim Brown, members at large Alan Carruth, David Mathias, and Jim Spigelmire; Astronomical League correspondent Lauren Gonzalez, IDA representative Janilee Contreras, and newsletter editor Joyce Lynch.

    OFFICER REPORTS

    Vice President: The October meeting speakers are Bobby Damiano, volunteer for the Austin Planetarium, on planets and New Horizons, and Nepris on their site.

    Outreach: There will be an event at Belterra on 10/11. Members can sign up for Nepris at Nepris.com; presentations given through Nepris will count as outreach hours for AL awards. We are attempting to plan an outeach event with The Thinkery.

    Equipment: There were two observatory trainings in September. There are 15-20 newly-certified or re-certified operators. A new case has been purchased for eyepieces at EEO.

    Member Services: The October practical astronomy session is Ron Carman on time and its measurement.

    NEW BUSINESS

    Astronomers Without Borders: AWB is an organization which pairs astronomy clubs from different parts of the world for the purpose of sharing information and expertise via the Internet. The decision about whether to join will be held at a later date, after information is shared with the membership and the partnership with Nepris settles in.

    Auction: Another aucton should be held soon. There is donated equipment available to sell.

    Additional items for the October meeting agenda: Patrick Miller, Hardin-Simmons University (Houston) and an additional guest speaker.

    December meeting location: We will not be able to hold the meeting at UT due to finals. A location has not been set at this time.

    OLD BUSINESS

    25” Dobsonian: The current goal is for the scope to be stored in the storage shed at the Eagle Eye Observatory until the Ruoff Observatory can be modified.

    The meeting was adjourned at 9:06.

  • 30 Sep 2014 10:48 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    The meeting was called to order at 7:11 PM. Present were President Dawn Davies, Vice-President Terry Phillips, Secretary David Lynch, Treasurer Mark Lyon, 

    Communications Chair Rob Pettengill, Outreach Chair Larry Martin, Equipment Chair James Hall, Member Services Chair Tim Brown, Members-at-Large David Mathias 

    and Jim Spigelmire, and member Ron Carman.

    VICE PRESIDENT: No progress on the building for the Forrest Dobsonian telescope. Madhan Tirumalai from the University of Houston will present in September on astrobiology. There is not a speaker confirmed for November.

    TREASURER: The budget was passed at the last meeting. There was a question from the floor asking whether numbers are published; these are not currently 

    published in the Sidereal Times or on the web site. RASC guide purchase page on the web site will be reactivated for 2015 books soon. We are near the 500-user 

    limit for the current tier of Wild Apricot service but should be able to stay under by combining memberships and users.

    COMMUNICATIONS: Events are being published by the Night Sky Network. Working on automating Austin360 and Austin Chronicle listings. The Yahoo group will be up 

    for the forseeable future.

    OUTREACH: There have been a number of requests or mentors. The chair is working as a mentor but needs additional volunteers. Monthly Public Star Party is 

    September 27. Star party at Wild Basin on September 28. Rooster Springs Elementary School in Dripping Springs ISD has asked for volunteers for viewing of the 

    lunar eclipse early on the morning of October 8. The Belterra community needs volunteers for a star party on October 11. 

    EQUIPMENT: The EC approved an expenditure of less than $100 for new eyepiece covers for the Eagle Eye Observatory. There are no other equipment issues. 

    Discussion of a security/camera system for the Observatory was tabled until a future meeting.

    MEMBER SERVICES: September Practical Astronomy will be on extraterrestrial water by William Ambrose of UT-Austin.

    NEPRIS: Nepris virtually connects people who are knowledgeable in STEM fields to teachers who want presentations on those subjects. The Executive Committee 

    approved a motion to formally affiliate the Society with Nepris.

    The meeting was adjourned at 8:43 PM.
  • 30 Aug 2014 10:44 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    The meeting was called to order at 7:03 PM at the Central Market location on North Lamar. Present were president Dawn Davies, Vice
    President Terry Phillips, Secretary David Lynch, Treasurer Mark Lyon, Communications Chair Rob Pettengill, Outreach Chair Larry Martin,
    Equipment Chair James Hall, Members at Large Alan Carruth and David Mathias, and Newsletter Editor Joyce Lynch.

    VICE PRESIDENT: Rachel Livermore - 8/8. No September speaker has committed as of the meeting date.

    TREASURER: The 2014 budget will be presented to the General Assembly on the August 8th meeting.

    COMMUNICATIONS: Traffic to austinastro.org tends to spike just before Austin Under the Stars. The front page of the site has been
    rearranged to remove content which hasn't been updated recently and to reduce the amount of text on the page.

    OUTREACH: Only August event planned thus far is the monthly public star party at the Eagle Eye Observatory. Frank Mikan donated a
    telescope at Austin Under the Stars, which was given to a child attendee after a random drawing. Estimated attendance at Austin Under the
    Stars was 160.

    EQUIPMENT: A new cover for the TV is almost completed. The focuser on the Forrest (Ealing) telescope needs to be looked at. The equipment
    information on the AAS web site has been updated. Procedures and documentation for the Forrest Dobsonian scope are being developed, and
    trainings are ongoing.

    25" DOBSONIAN: Estimate for expanding the concrete pad and modifying the existing Fred Ruoff Observatory. Options: Pour concrete pad
    ($1450), build a deck with a composite (Trex brand) floor ($1900), leveling existing soil around the existing pad and using grass
    ($1200). Modifications to the observatory including extending part of the back of the shed so that the scope can sit at approximately a
    40 degree angle. The EC chose to send the concrete pad and composite deck options to Calibre (Canyon of the Eagles owner) to forward to
    the LCRA for approval.

    BUDGET: The EC reviewed a draft budget. It will be presented for a vote at the August General Assembly meeting.

    HISTORIAN: One potential historian has been contacted but has not responded.

    EXOPLANET NAMING: Naming will be opened for subimssions in December; public vote will be in March.

    ASTRONOMY IN THE NEWS: The president put out a call for volunteers to discuss new discoveries and information in astronomy. Brian
    Lippincott volunteered.

    NEWSLETTER ADDITIONS: Members of the month will be featured in future editions of the Sidereal Times. One will be an EC member, one will
    be a non-EC member.

    The meeting was adjourned at 8:38 PM.


  • 30 Jul 2014 10:43 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    The meeting was called to order at 7:09 PM. Present were president Dawn Davies, vice president Terry Phillips, secretary David Lynch, treasurer Mark Lyon, communications chair Rob Pettengill, outreach chair Larry Martin, equipment chair James Hall, member services chair Tim Brown, and members at large Alan Carruth, David Mathias, and Jim Spigelmire.

    OFFICER REPORTS

    Vice President: Nothing to report on new presenters after the August meeting. Meeting in July will be in the Recital Hall at St. Stephen's School; Darren Spohn will be presenting.

    Treasurer: Budget is required at the next meeting.

    Communications: Looking to continue work to centralize calendars for events. Would like to work geographically and target announcements to people who have expressed an interest in outreach and based on geography.

    Outreach: Austin Under the Stars will be August 6. Events at the Ruiz Library (Grove Blvd. in Austin) and Bee Cave Library are also upcoming. Public star party at COE on July 19th.

    Equipment: There will be training on the Forrest Dobsonian at the next members only star party (July 26th.) The cover for the display will need to be replaced. A ChromeCast could be a good addition to the observatory for users of Android-based devices. Lights and telescopes are working well.

    Member Services: We would like to continue practical astronomy and dam astronomy events, but need to restart the mentoring program and junior member program, because there has been a lot of interest in these programs. An additional project is reaching out to new members.

    OLD BUSINESS

    FORREST DOB: Modifications to the Fred Shed include expanding the concrete pad to 14' in diameter and minor modifications to the structure. Estimates have been under $1,000. Requirements after structure is ready: eyepieces, platform ladder.

    CALIBRE AGREEMENT: Work still is ongoing to negotiate an agreement between Calibre and the LCRA and the agreement between AAS and Calibre will be signed soon after.

    NEW BUSINESS

    HISTORIAN: Brian Cuthbertson says that his knowledge as historian extends to the first 25 years of the club's existence and is not as aware of recent history. The possibility of finding an additional historian has been discussed.

    The meeting was adjourned at 8:18.


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