August 13, 2015

The Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association
E-Comet Newsletter


An Extra Week of Camp!
We are excited to announce that we are offering an extra week of camp from August 24-28th. 
Time: 8:50am - 3pm
Spaces Available: Only 15
Price: $460 Members, $535 Non-Members.
Ages Welcome: 5-10 years (they will be broken up into two age appropriate groups)
Camp Theme: Instructor Choice - they will combine their favorite activities and locations into one week of fun
How To Register: Please call or email Kim Botelho at 508-228-9198 or  if you are interested.

Thank You!

One of the biggest goals here, at the Maria Mitchell Association, is to inspire children and excite them about science.  When we heard that Mabel Wilson donated her earnings from the Toy Boat Craft Fair to the MMA, we knew that we had to share our excitement with the rest of you.  Ella, Mabel's older sister, has helped pave the way for her at the MMA and was even one of our volunteers this summer. 

Kate, Ella, and Mabel's mom said, "From night seining to daily visits to the female blue crab and eel that she and her sister donated, to obsessing about black holes, to helping me bake/decorate 96 cupcakes for Maria's birthday last week, MMA offered daily adventures during our five weeks on island. We can't imagine summer without you!"
From the entire MMA staff and board, thank you Mabel, Ella, and the rest of the Wilson family for being amazing supporters and fans!  We can't wait to see you next summer.

The Untold Story of Beauty

and the Beast    


   Back in 2002 "Beauty," the red Jeep, joined forces with MMA staff to support a host of our educational and research programs.  What you may not know is that the "Beast," an old red Jeep Wagoneer, served us for many years prior to Beauty, thus continuing the long tradition of vehicle donation from our generous members. The sad part of this story is that after many years of exceptional service and devotion Beauty is on her last cylinder.  It will not be long before she will need to be retired.  You can help make this a "happy ending story" with a donation of your vehicle.  Any good working vehicle will do . . . of course a 4-wheel drive would be best but we are open for all donations!  If you would like to play a part in the next chapter of this story, please give us a call at 508-228-9198 or email .    

Summer End Appeal
Through gifts and donations, the MMA continues to offer programs and workshops for children and citizen scientists.  We hope you will consider supporting us today. 
Read our Summer End Appeal here.

Work in the New Lab Space
The Natural Science Museum was redesigned this past winter and one of the rooms was reconfigured to be a working lab space.  In many ways it is a tiny version of the Ecology Lab and Collections Facility that is being created in the old Science Library.
We have gotten more use out of this lab space than expected and museum visitors have had enriching interactions with the students and researchers.
Andrew McCandless, a Ph.D. candidate at Portland State University, has been sorting creatures collected from eelgrass. He has assistance from two local high school students.
In another project, two students are learning spider identification and will begin assisting with sorting spiders from the MMA's spider collection.

2015 Cape Cod Life "Best Of" Winner
The Maria Mitchell Association was named the "Silver Winner in Family Activity" by Cape Cod Life Publications. Dedicated readers of Cape Cod Life magazine voted for their favorite places on the Cape and Islands.

Hermitage Club Introductory Membership Available!
Interested in a membership to the sole members-only ski resort in the East?
Please call Sarah Erichsen, Development Coordinator, at 508-228-9198 or via email to  for more information.

Completion of Exterior Conservation  
The Maria Mitchell Association has completed the conservation of the exterior of the Science Library paving the way for development of the new, year-round Ecology Lab. The nearly $250,000.00 conservation effort was funded by a grant from the Nantucket Community Preservation Act. 
The work included significant repairs to the roof and restoring it to its original 1933 condition. 
Read more about this project here.


Name an Exoworld for America's First Woman Astronomer, Maria Mitchell
Photo from IAU
The International Astronomical Union (IAU), the largest organization of professional astronomers in the world, is sponsoring a contest to rename 20 stars and their associated planets. The IAU is the official naming organization for astronomical bodies, and the public gets to vote on the names. The MMA has proposed that a star currently known as Andromedae 14 be renamed  'MariaMitchell' and its accompanying planet be named 'WilliamMitchell.' Help us honor Maria Mitchell by voting.

Nantucket Science Speaker Series
All presentations will take place at 33 Washington Street and are free for Members.  Non-Members will be charged $10 per person.
Dr. Boyce Presents:
"Eelgrass Under Siege: A Decade of Research in Nantucket Harbor"
August 19 at 7pm
Dr. Peter Boyce, an astronomer turned marine biologist, has studied Nantucket's Bay Scallop population and the Harbor ecosystem since 2003.

Howard Smith, SAO Presents:
"Cosmology-the Science of Origin and Development of the Universe"

Howard Smith is a highly respected Harvard Lecturer and a Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Researcher in Cambridge, Mass.  Among his Research Interests:  Massive star formation in galactic and extragalactic environments; and luminous merging galaxies.  These interests make him well suited to talk about Cosmology--the science of origin and development of the Universe.    He has also worked with Director Emeritus Dr. Vladimir Strelnitsky on joint projects.  
Elliot Sudal Presents:
"Nantucket Shark Tagging"
August 26 at 7pm
Best known as the "Nantucket Shark Wrestler," Elliot will share his amazing relationship with sharks on Nantucket and his new partnership with NOAA to help tag and protect these fascinating and often misunderstood predators.
Andrew McCandless presents:
"Mooring Damage to Eelgrass and the Surrounding Animal Community"
September 1 at 6pm
Listen to the latest research being conducted on the damage and loss of eelgrass in our harbors.
Dr. Stella Kafka Presents:
"Variable Stars"
September 2 at 6pm
Dr. Kafka will introduce the main categories of variable stars and illustrate how you can participate in cutting-edge observational astronomy projects and be part of the discovery process.
Dr. Kelley Beatty Presents:
"How Light Pollution Affects Your Health"
September 9 at 6pm
Thanks to light pollution, most of us have never seen the night sky in all its wonder. But a new mindset and new technology are poised to slow - and perhaps reverse - this bane of modern life. 
Dr. Arthur Swedlow Presents:
"Our Universe"
September 16 at 6pm
A popular lecture by Dr. Arthur Swedlow on our Universe without the gory details. Dr. Swedlow has taught Physics, Astronomy, Physical Science and Anatomy & Physiology as a part-time adjunct professor for over 45 years.
Major John Reed Presents:
"Forty Years of Flying and Astronomy"
September 23 at 6pm
Major John Reed, USAF Retired, was a pilot for 15 years with 2300 hours seat time and a total of 35 years of flying Infrared Scientific Research missions out of AFCRL at Hanscom Field, Massachusetts.

Mitchell House's

Junior Historians For Ages 7-10

Have a young historian or history buff in your midst? Mitchell House is again offering its popular Junior Historians on Tuesdays and Thursdays in July and August from 10AM to Noon. Costs are $35 for Members and $45 for Non-Members per class. The offerings this year include:




Krazy and Kolorful Kaleidoscopes and Bubble Blowers - Tuesday, August 18

William Mitchell studied the polarization of light and was known to have a prism of his own making hanging in the family's front sitting room. He loved bright colors! Two colorful and fun activities for children and adults in Maria's day were kaleidoscopes and blowing bubbles. We will learn about these items and make our own kaleidoscopes and bubble blowers to take home.


Keep the Lights Burning -Thursday, August 20

Join us as we learn about life before electricity. We will learn about different lamps and candles used and about the craft of tinsmithing - practiced by Maria Mitchell's uncle and her brother - and then make our own candle and lantern to take home.



Register Here


Family Astronomy Programs 


ARTstronomy - Monday, August 17

Using pictures and stories, children are introduced to the wonders of the universe and their place in it.  Children must be accompanied by an adult.


Blast Off! - Tuesday, August 18

Children discover the wonders of space exploration by building and launching their own model rockets. Children must be accompanied by an adult.


Stars and Senses Night Hike - Thursday, August 20

Enjoy an evening hike under the stars where you will test your night vision, listen for nocturnal animals and learn about their adaptations. Appropriate for ages 8 and up.


For more information or to register for any of these programs, please click HERE

Become a Member
Members Receive Exclusive Benefits:
Discounts on Discovery Classes, Nature Walks,  
Lectures, and Other Programs .  
Unlimited free admission to all MMA museums.

Visit Us:

Aquarium: 10am-4pm Mon-Sat.

Natural Science Museum: 10am-4pm Mon-Sat.

Mitchell House: Guided Tours 10am-4pm Mon-Sat.

Vestal Street Observatory: 2pm Mon-Fri.

Loines Observatory: 9pm-10:30pm MWF


  Family Snorkeling Programs


Join us for an underwater adventure as we snorkel off of Jetties Beach! Our staff will provide participants with the proper training and equipment. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Ages 10 and up.



August 18 with underwater photography:

$75 Members, $95 Non-Members

 Sign up here.

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         Maria Mitchell's Attic
       A blog about Maria Mitchell, the Mitchells, and the
                             Mitchell House

 4 Vestal Street
Nantucket, MA 02554
(508) 228-9198



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Board and Staff


John L. Daniels, President
Deb Manus, First Vice President
Helene M. Weld, Second Vice President
Michael Nelson, Treasurer
Patricia L.R. Brennan, Ph.D., Clerk
Howard Blitman
Patty Gibian
Joan Gulley 
John Hartner
Judy MacLeod
Malcolm MacNab, M.D., Ph.D. 
Toni McKerrow

Mary Archibald (Bebe) Poor, D.V.M.  

Katherine Rhode, Ph.D.
Eileen Rudden

Anne P. Strain
Edward Symes, III



Administration (508)228-9198

David Gagnon, Executive Director


Joan Alison Stockman, Director of Finance & Administration

George Donnelly, Director of Development & Communications

Sarah Erichsen, Development Coordinator

Lauren Berlin, Administrative & Marketing Assistant
Astronomy (508)228-9723
Gary Walker, Interim Director of Astronomy/Astronomer and Telescope Engineer
Vladimir Strelnitski, Ph.D.,
Maria Mitchell Observatory's Director Emeritus 
Mitchell House & Archives and Special Collections (508)228-2896
Jascin Leonardo Finger, Deputy Director & Curator of the Mitchell House, Archives, and Special Collections
Natural Science (508)228-9198
Andrew Mckenna-Foster, Director of Natural Science
Education (508)228-9198
Kim Botelho, Director of Education

Research Associates 
 Robert Kennedy, Ph.D., Senior Research Fellow
Edith F. Andrews, Ornithologist Emeritus
Peter Boyce,  Ph.D., Research Associate
Valerie A. Hall, Ph.D., Research Associate

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Maria Mitchell Association
4 Vestal Street, Nantucket, MA 02554
phone: (508) 228-9198
fax: (508) 228-1031
Maria Mitchell Association