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The South Plains Astronomy Club is a small group of active astronomers who enjoy observing under the beautifully dark West Texas skies while being serenaded by coyotes and night birds. We’re a friendly bunch who enjoy showing newcomers the night skies and discussing the latest in telescopes, astro-imaging, astronomical discoveries and space exploration.
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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT ...

Missed a recent monthly SPAC meeting? A summary of what went on is presented below so you can keep up-to-date on club activities. You can also access the minutes of the business meeting once they have been approved by clicking on the link provided (Use the "Back" button on your browser to return to this page).

21 May 2020.  Like last month, the regular monthly meeting of the South Plains Astronomy Club for May, along with the Saturday Star Walk at the Lubbock Arboretum and the Public Star Party in Ransom Canyon, were cancelled due to the Coronavirus epidemic. The date of this month's meeting did mark the end of the SPAC Membership Drive. SPAC Treasurer Rick Fay reports that, as of this date, a total of 20 Members have renewed their memberships. In addition, we picked up two new members, giving the Club a total of 22 paid members. Members who have not renewed their memberships have until June 21 to renew before they are dropped from the Club.
16 April 2020.  The regular monthly meeting of the South Plains Astronomy Club for April, along with the Saturday Star Walk at the Lubbock Arboretum and the Public Star Party in Ransom Canyon, were cancelled due to the Coronavirus epidemic. April 16 did mark the start of the SPAC annual membership drive where Members can renew their Club memberships. Since we would not be meeting in person, two additional options were provided for paying dues— by mail and by the "Donations" button located on the SPAC website. Members have until the date of the May monthly meeting to renew their membership without falling into delinquency.
19 March 2020.  The regular monthly meeting of the South Plains Astronomy Club for March was cancelled, specifically because St. John's Church (where we hold our meetings) cancelled all public events at their facilities until further notice due to the Coronavirus epidemic. Due to restrictions on public gatherings, SPAC has had to cancel the Public Star Party in Ransom Canyon (scheduled for March 21) and the Saturday Star Walk at the Lubbock Arboretum (scheduled for April 4). Other future events may likely be cancelled due to public health issues.
20 February 2020.  Treasurer Rick Fay reported that there were no deposits to or withdrawals from the SPAC checking account, so the account balance remains at $1585.41.

A discussion was lead by President Steve Maas of the Star Walk put on by the Club earlier in the month. Everyone was generally pleased by the event. Several suggestions were made to improve the event. It had been noted that some visitors to the event had bypassed the Welcome Desk by entering the Rose Garden from the walk coming from the parking lot to the east of the site. It is important that all visitors stop by the Welcome Desk so we can get an accurate tally of them. To remedy this in the future, a rope barrier will be set up along the walk from the parking lot to direct the visitors to the Welcome Desk. It was also noted that there was some duplication among the telescopes in the objects targeted. It was reiterated that the Star Walk is a structured event and each scope should stay on a single object to insure that the visitors passing through the event get to see the maximum number of objects without unnecessary duplication. This is different from the regular Public Star Parties, which are unstructured events in which each scope operator can target whatever objects they desire.

President Maas voiced concern over finding enough Club Members to regularly participate in events like the Star Walk. SPAC currently has 34 Members, but there is a "core group" of only around a dozen that regularly participate in Club activities. To be effective, the Star Walk needs to have a minimum of 9-10 scopes, which would mean that essentially the same Members might need to participate every month. To solve this problem, President Maas stated that SPAC needs to get more active Members— not just more Members. If SPAC had around 20 active Members, then there could be much more flexibility in who participates in events. President Maas stated that a goal of the Club should be to increase the number of active Members.

President Maas suggested that one way to increase the number of active Members is to use our outreach events to recruit them. We should be more active in trying to recruit new Members at our stargazing and public speaking events. A second way is to use SPAC's Junior Membership program to recruit younger members who, through instruction and training, can become active participants in our stargazing events. To this end, President Maas appointed Member Patrice Fay to be Chairperson of Junior Activities (in addition to her role as Club Secretary). In this role, Patrice will work to establish a vibrant Junior Membership Program, and everyone is encouraged to assist her in this effort.

President Maas read the text of an Amendment to the SPAC Constitution and By-Laws. The purpose of this Amendment is to replace gender-specific text in the Constitution and By-Laws with gender-neutral text. The Amendment will be voted on in the March meeting.

President Maas reported on his meeting with the Ransom Canyon Property Owner's Association (POA) Events Committee held the Sunday after the Public Star Party. The POA will check into the possibility of making the restrooms at the Ransom Canyon Fire Station available for use during the Public Star Party.

Members were reminded that the "Winter Star-BQ" is scheduled for the night of Friday, March 20. Hopefully the weather will cooperate for this dark-sky event.

Following the business meeting, we heard the presentation, "Legend of the Marysville Black Squirrel, or, The Total Solar Eclipse That Almost Didn't Happen" by Patrice Fay. This recounted her and her husband's adventures attending the total solar eclipse of 2017.

16 January 2020.  Despite bad weather in the area, we had a good turnout for our first meeting of the new year. Vice President Tom Heisey was unfortunately out sick and could not make the meeting.

President Steve Maas provided the report on SPAC finances. At the time of the last monthly meeting, the SPAC bank account had a balance of $1555.41. On December 23rd, President Maas deposited $30.00 into the account, the money coming from membership dues. There were no payments or withdrawals, so the SPAC account currently has a balance of $1585.41.

The three amendments to the SPAC Constitution and By-Laws that President Maas had read at the December meeting were voted on. All passed 11-0. The texts of the amendments will be placed on the "ABOUT US" page of the SPAC Website.

As required by the SPAC Constitution, Club Officers were elected. For 2020, the Officers are: Steve Maas (President), Tom Heisey (Vice-President), Rick Fay (Treasurer), and Patrice Fay (Secretary). All candidates ran unopposed.

Plans were made for the "Saturday Star Walk" that will be held at the Lubbock Arboretum near the Hodges Community Center on Saturday, February 1 (weather permitting). This event will replace the Public Star Party previously held at Tech Terrace Park. The event will be publicized by the Lubbock Parks and Recreation Department and the Lubbock Arboretum. Member Mark Smith found it listed in the City of Lubbock Recreation & Leisure Services Activity Guide that is available online and is included in the local newspaper. President Maas described how discussions between him and Vice-President Heisey and representatives of the Arboretum and the Hodges Community Center resulted in the Rose Garden next to the Community Center being selected as the site of the first Star Walk. Support for the event was voiced by the Members present at the Meeting, and tentative committments were made by many of them to participate. Member Collin Smith provided a list of potential objects to observe, which he emailed to Members. The event will start at around 6:30 PM, and participating Members were urged to show up at around 5:45-6:00 PM to begin setting up. The event is scheduled to last around 2 hours.

Member Collin Smith described that there will be a close conjunction among the Moon, Venus and Neptune on the evening of January 27th. This should be a good target for viewing with a small telescope or binoculars.

Following the business meeting, we watched the recorded lecture, "The Georgian Star: How William and Caroline Herschel Invented Modern Astronomy" by author Michael Lemonick.

Minutes of the business meeting.






 

 

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