A fascinating program on Europa by new member Chris Echols, fantastic views of deep sky objects, Comet Hartley 2, and Jupiter under gorgeous clear skies, and great fellowship were the highlights of the September 2010 meeting of the Central Arkansas Astronomical Society.
Meeting. The formal meeting was called to order at 7 p.m. by Vice President Jim Fisher filling in for President Carolaina Ferren, who was attending a family funeral. A beautiful thin crescent moon could be seen in the western sky over Wade Van Arsdale’s observatory as the meeting convened. In attendance were Samantha and dad Jim Dixon, Chris Echols and his dad Tommy, Darrell Heath, Kevin Krug, Allen Lee, Don Lewis, and Jim Fisher. The following members arrived for the observing session: Nathan James, Coy Scott, and new member Tim Hogue. In addition to Tommy Echols, the following first time visitors arrived for enjoyed clear skies for the post meeting observing session: Paul Carr, Tim Nutt, Daniel Evans, Teresa and Mike Schueter and daughter Hannah. WELCOME! We enjoyed meeting every first time visitor and hope you return to the River Ridge Observatory soon!
Calendar of Upcoming Events. Jim began the meeting by outlining the calendar of upcoming events.
1. October 16, 2010, a star party for Boy Scout Troop 770, beginning at sunset, at the scout’s camp site on Pinnacle Mountain State Park. Bill Engberg and Bill Sanders have agreed to lead this program but other astronomers and scope are welcome.
2. October 16, 2010, Astronomy Day hosted by Arkansas – Oklahoma Astronomical Society, beginning at noon, Janet Huckabee Nature Center, Barling, AR (Ft. Smith suburb), beginning at noon with star party in evening. Jim Fisher is planning to attend representing International Dark-Sky Association and if anyone wants to carpool with him they are welcome. There will also be an organizational meeting for the 2011 Mid-States Region of Astronomical League, tentatively scheduled for May, that CAAS will assist AOAS organize.
3. October 29 – 30, 2010, Star Party of Mt. Magazine hosted by the River Valley Stargazers (Russellville area club). Contact Ken Zelnick for more information at KZELNIC@entergy.com
4. November 6, 2010, public star party at Woolly Hollow State Park, which will be the final public event for 2011.
Old business: 501( c ) (3) tax exempt status. Vice President Jim Fisher reported that on September 24, 2010 he mailed the IRS Form 990-EZ along with a packet of additional information about CAAS to the IRS needed to help preserve CAAS’s status as 501( c ) (3) tax exempt organization. Jim said this should clean-up CAAS’s records with the IRS and next May the club can file the much simpler 990 e-postcard for tax year 2010. This will also mean that members and other donor can continue deduct on their personal income tax forms the donations made to CAAS
Mail box. Jim said a mail box is needed on the road since we changed our address to the RRO’s physical mailing address with both the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office and the IRS. Volunteers are needed to help Jim install the mail box as soon as possible. Please contact Jim if you would like to help.
New business: Observatory security. There have been recent incidents where the observatory buildings and main gate were not secured properly after use. It is believed these incidents were the result of forgetfulness. Jim reviewed the steps to secure the property and after the meeting Don Lewis demonstrated how to turn off the water during cold weather months. Jim said he will recommend that the board review the policy on distrusting the gate combo.
Christmas party. The December meeting is traditionally a Christmas pot luck held away from the Observatory. In years’ past it was held in a member’s home. But the past two years the event was hosted in community rooms such as last year’s event held at the Rossevelt Thompson Branch Library. Currently no location has been identified for the December meeting. Is there a volunteer to host this event in their home?
Program: A fascinating program entitled “Europa: Key to Life or Icy Wasteland,” was presented by Chris Echols who joined CAAS just back in September. Chris noted that underneath Europa’s 50 – 60 mile thick ice sheet, the Oceans of Europa could support microbial life or even more complex organisms similar to those found in the deepest reaches of the earth’s oceans. The formal meeting was adjourned at 7:45 and all enjoyed observing under clear skies.
Observing. After the meeting everyone hit the observing field for views of Jupiter, with all four Galilean moons visible, Uranus, doubles stars, Messier objects, and constellation spotting for our guests, and Comet Hartley 2.
Vice President (acting as Secretary)