MHAA Club History
Oct 8, 2021
Increasing Our Visibility
The MHAA public-facing website was launched by our webmaster, Steve Dittmar, in order to increase the club's visibility, better advertise it's services, and simplify how new members discover and learn about the club.
Aug 21, 2020
The pandemic continued to rage, but outdoor events under 50 people were deemed safe with social distancing. So we returned to safely host in-person star parties with masks, cleaning, and social distancing. We couldn't deny the success of our remote events, though, which averaged higher attendance than past in-person events.
With some people still hesitant to attend and the virtual experience success inspiring us, we started to investigate ways to add remote access to our in-person meetings and star parties even when things return to normal. Zoom meetings demonstrated that many people wanted to participate, but perhaps don't have the time or will to invest several hours on a weekday to commute and attend the in-person events.
Jul 24, 2020
The year of the comets
2020 turned out to have a rare display of two naked eye comets in the Northern Hemisphere; T2 PanSTARRS was visible in the Spring while 2020 F3 NEOWISE visible in the early Summer. NEOWISE was only just discovered in March and the easiest to spot.
Parks and open spaces had been cleared for small gatherings with appropriate distancing, but it was only allowed for small gatherings so we held a members only event. Members gathered at the Lake Taghkanic State Park as well as a West-facing lookout point just south of the park on the Taconic Parkway. Humidity and high clouds made for difficult viewing that night, even though it's closest approach to Earth was just a day earlier.
Apr 21, 2021
COVID-19 forces the US into a lockdown and the MHAA rethinks how to host its meetings and star parties. Historically, these had always been been in person only.
April marked our first ever club meeting on Zoom and Virtual Star Party on Zoom. The star party shared Greg Salyer's screen as his astrophotography software live captured images and Jack filled down time by narrating and showcasing Stellarium's illustration of what we were imaging. This was successful, but also wasn't quite the same personal touch you experience in person outdoors.
Feb 13, 1986
The Stearing Committee met in SUNY Coykendall Science Building Faculty Lounge to discuss formally setting up the Mid Hudson Astronomical Association. They were Dr. Richard Veghte, Tom Crepet, Frank Andrew (IBM), Dave Linddemann (IBM), Karl Loatman, and Ed Burlingame. Dr. Veghte proposed the MHAA acronym should use "Astronomy" as opposed to "Astronomical", to be less pretentious; he lost.
1985 - Feb 18,1986
Public meetings were held in SUNY New Paltz Lecture Center 104 the third Tuesday of each month. Meetings consisted of featured speakers followed by observing in "Bending Field" at the southern end of campus. Bob Berman provided tapes of the NASA Uranus Flyby at the February meeting.
Jan 4, 1986
MHAA's 1st Group Observation
Dave Lindemann, Karl Loatman & Tom Rankin did a Quadrantid meteor count by Frank Andrew's farm. A very steep peak at 7:00PM was observed while they lay in a "Y" pattern in the snow on that 14 degree evening. Several bright bolides were observed coming from an unrelated radiant in the constellation Bootes.
The apparition of Halley's Comet in the Fall of 1985 and the Spring of 1986 sparked huge turnouts to our Halley programs.
In the Fall of 1985, Ed Burlingame and Dave Lindemann often trekked to Minnewaska at 3am on clear moon-less nights to find Halley's inbound comet. They were finally successful on September 4th and Ed captured his first picture on October 17th, which was published in the Poughkeepsie Journal. That same night, but 2 hours behind at the University of Arizona, Tad Herman, was doing the same! Tom Rankin also pursued and photographed Halley's from his own venues.
The MHAA is Founded!
The Steering Committee met in the Coykendal Science Building in SUNY New Paltz to form The Mid Hudson Astronomical Association.
- Dr. Richard C. Veghte - Chair of the Physics Department and 30 year teacher of Astronomy
- David M. Lindemann - 25 year armchair Astronomer, organizer of Poughkeepsie
astronomers and monthly presentations at Bowdoin Park
- Frank H. Andrew - 10 year active armchair astronomer, President of Dutchess County Historical Society
- Robert Sheedy - Lifelong armchair astronomer
- Karl Loatman - 30 year active armchair astronomer and President LaGrange Association Library
- Edwin C. Burlingame - Successful astrophotographer
- Tom Crepet - Director of the Kirk Planetarium at New Paltz
That meeting led to a consensus to form an astronomy club. A charter, constitution, and bylaws were drafted. Dr. Veghte volunteered to be its first President.
An Opportunity Arises
SUNY New Paltz receives a Community Grant to "promote appreciation/awareness of the sciences". Dr. Richard Veghte, SUNY Physics Chair, asked Tom Crepet for names and ideas.
May 30, 1984
Dave Lindemann, Ed Burlingame, Tad Herman, Anthony Vacca, and Paul Willis rented a van and traveled to Pocomoke City, MD for a total solar eclipse. The eclipse, though, was eclipsed by a gigantic thunderstorm.
1970's - 1980
The Origin Story - Grass Roots
Before the MHAA existed, astronomy in the Hudson Valley consisted of little-publicized programs at Vassar College, SUNY New Paltz Planetarium, and Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls. The Apollo buzz had worn off, but some MHAA founders met thanks to the Bowdoin Park programs led by Dutchess County Naturalist Collette Lemon and later by Jean McAvoy, which featured John Bortle and Dave Lindemann.
Tom Rankin, Dave Lindemann, Rick Versace, Jack Schmidt, Howard and Jackie Salsberg, and local high school students Tad Herman and Anthony Vacca got to know each other through Bowdoin Park as well. Together they created a 40-yard rope and styrofoam ball solar system (1 yard = 1 AU).
Tom Crepet was central in pulling together frequent visitors of the SUNY New Paltz Planetarium: Karl Loatman of LaGrange, Tom Rankin of Poughkeepsie, and Dave Lindemann and Frank Andrews of Hyde Park.
No effort was spared to connect with new astronomers. Dave Lindemann noticed the name "Ed Burlingame, Poughkeepsie, NY" in an S&T list of Lunar Eclipse shadow timers and made initial contact with Ed. Shortly thereafter, Dave noticed an "AAVSO Star Atlas" on the front seat of a car in Hyde Park and left a note on the car's windshield; it turned out to be Ed's car!