President’s Message

I suppose it’s cliché to say “where did the summer go?” Autumn begins this month
which means shorter days but also longer nights for skywatching. There’s a lot going
on this fall! I hope you can participate!
If I’m being honest, I was a bit disappointed in the Perseid Meteor Shower. We saw 91
meteors from dusk to 3am on August 12-13 at the Middle Fork. I expected over double
that number, though. I gave a talk to roughly 200 people but many arrived after that.
Jennifer Wick did a masterful job organizing the evening and forest preserve officials
were busy with traffic control. The one thing I noticed though is, in the past, people
would show up early and then, one by one, leave. In the past, I’ve been the only person there in the morning hours. Not this year! People were coming and going at all
hours of the night. When we left at 3am, two cars were pulling in! I’m thankful for the
interest but that was a crazy time. And the bright Starlink train appearing just after sunset was impressive! I had never seen then that bright before.
We have a few more special events coming up, too! Allerton Park has invited us to observe from the Sunsinger statue on the 9th. I hope the weather is clear. The sky looks
pretty cool from that area and you can get some good images with the statue in the
foreground. I hope you can join us. They are going to kick us out long before midnight
so it’ll be an early night. There was some interest in having a CUAS cookout on our
normal “New Moon” night on the 16th. We’ll have it at the observatory site. And we
have power there now! Jim Wehmer volunteered to bring a grill and I can bring one,
too. So bring something to grill and maybe a dish to pass, plus a lawn chair. We used
to have two 6-foot tables at the site. We’ll have to see if those are in the generator
We’ll have a by-laws vote at the September meeting. I don’t think there’s anything
Earth-shaking here but we’re cleaning up the by-laws to better represent what we’re
doing already. Plus we’d like to introduce the appointed position of Membership Coordinator. A job description will appear in the news section. If anyone is interested in
this position NOW, please let me know. As long as it is approved, we don’t necessarily
have to wait until elections. Speaking of, you’ve heard me harp on this in the past . . .
.we’ll do officer nominations at the October meeting for 2024. PLEASE consider running for an office. I’d love to hand the presidency off to someone else. And then I’m
happy to mentor that person. Get the help while I’m still around! You’ll find it’s not as
difficult or time-consuming as you might think.
In closing, some of you may recall I did a talk last year on a “hero” of mine. Leslie Peltier has been called one of the greatest amateur astronomers in the country. On my
way to a conference I stopped in Delphos, Ohio, Peltier’s hometown, and Bob
Ebbeskotte gave me a wonderful city tour, including Peltier’s home. I recently got an
email from Bob telling me another Peltier fan in Idaho had uncovered a black & white
video of Peltier. It’s a silent film but a lip-reader was hired in an attempt to ascertain
what was being said. Very cool! You can watch it at:
PS – are my eyes deceiving me? The “Ancient Aliens” crew are coming to the Virginia
Theater next March? Wasn’t all that Von Daniken stuff debunked years ago? But
people will believe what they want, I guess. Sad.