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The Northland

April is the coolest month, breeding
Parties out of dark skies, mixing
Galaxy and star fire, barring
Eve’nings from spring rain.
Winter kept some in, hiding
Warm inside their homes, feeling
A little strife with optic tubes.
Summer surprises us, coming now with stars for all to see.

April is Global Astronomy Month, sponsored by Astronomers Without Borders. CMAS celebrates with plenty of events!

Brower Star Party

Saturday, April 22, 2017, 8:00pm — Brower Observatory
341 Route 126 (Jefferson Road), Whitefield, ME 04353
Saturday, April 29 — Rain Date

A night of great viewing, combined with an opportunity to see why Uncle CMAS Needs You at the following week’s Work Day. Sure, the skies are dark in this lair of the friendliest like-minded astro-fans in all of Central Maine, the club’s magnificent 16” reveals all sorts of marvels that most of us can’t see in our own telescopes, and the amassed knowledge of the club assembled helps us all to find objects we might otherwise not even think to find, but, oy; see below. This is also an opportunity to quietly scan the aging timbers and seeping roofs of Brower Observatory, to persuade yourself to join us for Work Day on the 29th.

Chop Point School Star Party

Friday, April 28, 2017, 7:30pm — Chop Point School Star Party
425 Chop Point Road, Woolwich, ME 04597
Ken Morse and Jon Silverman, Hosts

Chop Point, a small, private, day school in one of the most spectacular locations in all of Central Maine, includes astronomy among the sciences taught to even its youngest students. CMASian Ken Morse has grandchildren there, and so was tapped to arrange an opportunity to observe real skies through actual telescopes, for grades 2 through 6. We need to begin viewing before it is truly dark, and the lights of Bath Iron Works haunt the southern skies, so we’ll be focusing on two bright objects: The Moon, before it sets in the West, and Jupiter, as it rises in the East. Prior to observing, we’ll present an introduction to the telescopes indoors, and we may show them pictures of dimmer objects we won’t be viewing, on the big video screens in their classrooms.

When presenting at a school, there are issues of security, so this event is open only to members of CMAS; it is not open to the general public. CMASians interested in helping must inquire of the President in advance, as the school requires a list of those presenting at least one day before we arrive. There is no rain date. If it is expected to rain, the party will be cancelled a day in advance. If it is only cloudy (as can occur, even when clear skies are expected), the indoor part of the program will be extended to compensate for the lack of viewing. Because the children are young, this event ends early, by 10:30pm or 11:00pm. Still, it may best suited to members living nearby, as a long drive from the further reaches of the realm may be awkward prior to rising early, to return for the Work Day at Brower Observatory beginning at 10:00am the following morning.

Brower Work Day

Saturday, April 29, 2017, 10:00am — Brower Work Day
341 Route 126 (Jefferson Road), Whitefield, ME 04353
Sunday, April 30, 2017 — Rain Date

“Bereit ist besser als kann” is German for “Willing is better than can,” and is the closest approximation in the Roman alphabet to my grandfather’s favorite Yiddish saying. Your hands and willingness to work are essential to Work Day’s outcome, but your skills are not. Sure, we’re thrilled when some members arrive with truckloads of power tools and scaffolding, but even Your Illustrious President was able to wield a brush to paint some walls, and to fiddle with frozen roller bearings in the dome until they spun again. Please come help your club in the ongoing maintenance of your observatory.

Work to be completed includes:
• Re-shingling the roof.
• Sealing leaks in the fiberglass dome.
• Sealing the soffits against invasions of wasps.
• Replacing weak boards.
• Painting the floor and the outside walls.
• Installing a curtain of hardware cloth between the pier and the floor, to prevent birds (and their droppings) from taking up residence in the observatory.

A small army of CMASian tool-weilders could accomplish all that in a day. Bring your own lunch, but join the conversation if you may want to stay for dinner. If the weather allows, there may be a star party in the evening after workday. We could consider a simple, but hearty, communal dinner, to entice us all to work, and then to transition ourselves from the day’s labors into the night’s observing. If enough of us offer to help cook, or buy ingredients, or even set tables, we may add a dinner of pasta and salad to this event, or perhaps a star-be-cue.

Galaxy Quest Star Party

Saturday, May 20, 2017, 9:00pm — Galaxy Quest Observatory
84 Vancycle Road, Lincolnville, ME 04849
Saturday, May 27 — Rain Date

Astronomy is partly about looking up at dark skies, and partly about looking around at the beautiful surroundings where dark skies are found. The night is never more beautiful than when seen from Galaxy Quest. Long vistas of horizons extending across the sea, distant mountains encircling fields sloping gently toward oncoming ocean breezes, Polaris crowning the trees atop a hillside serving as a natural compass to the stars. Why only look at the heavens, when one can, quite convincingly, be in heaven at Galaxy Quest?