May 1, 2014

The Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association
E-Comet Newsletter

Summer Discovery Camp & Teen Programs
(Ages 5-15)

Summer is just around the corner!  Be sure to reserve your camp spot and register today!


Discovery Class Scholarship Program!

Thanks to a generous grant offered by the EGCF, a non-profit foundation, the Maria Mitchell Association is offering up to 24 scholarships for eligible Nantucket residents and visitors.  The grant reduces the cost of the Discovery and Naturalist Leadership Programs by 80% with the purchase of a Family Membership for $25.00.

For more information or to download an application, visit our website.  


If you have any questions please call us at 508.228.9198 or email Kim Botelho, MMA's Director of Education. 

Marine Biology Boot Camp
(Ages 10-12)

Due to popular demand, we have added more spaces in our Marine Biology Boot Camp for the weeks of July 14th - 18th and July 28th - August 1st. Both new sessions are nearly half full already so please register soon!  

For more information or to register visit our website.

Spring is a great time to indulge our curiosity in all things mechanical.  This program is all about reverse puzzle skills and is a great way for families with kids of all ages to problem solve together.  Drop in anytime to dismantle an old VCR, radio controlled car, tape deck message machine, or tons of other stuff.  All tools and eye protection provided!  You will be amazed at what you find beneath.  See pictures from Mechanical Mayhem 2013!

24 hours of birding excitement is right around the corner!  The annual Nantucket Birdathon (5 PM May 16th to 5 PM May 17th) raises money for birding activities and research on Nantucket.  At the Maria Mitchell Association, contributions go towards supplies and maintenance of the 900 specimen Edith F. Andrews Ornithology Collection.  This collection is regularly used by researchers and educators.  This year, the MMA is partnering with the Linda Loring Nature Foundation and funds raised will support both organizations.


We usually see between 90 and 140 species. 


How can you participate?

  1. You can start a team of your own by filling out the team registration form.  Participation is free and you get a tee-shirt!
  2. You can join us in our search for birds over the 24 hour period by contacting Andrew Mckenna-Foster to join a team.
  3. You can pledge an amount per species (e.g. $0.50) or a fixed amount (e.g. $50.00) to support Nantucket birding and research by filling out the pledge form 

 We appreciate your support!  


Logo designed by Ginger Andrews  

2014 Summer Interns

MMA has hired 1 summer programs coordinator, 27 college interns, and 6 high school interns to assist in our various departments. 

Meet the interns!

2013 interns on an island tour with Nantucket Bike Tours

New Astronomy REU Students to Arrive in June

We look forward to welcoming six new astronomy REU students to MMA this summer:  


  • Katie Butler (Agnes Scott College)
  • Emma Dahl (Whitman College)
  • Jonathan Jackson (Harvard)
  • Emily Longley (Carleton College)
  • Meg Panetta (Harvard)
  • Aquiel Warner (Yale)

Each student will work on a research project under the supervision of Director of Astronomy, Michael West, and one of the following affiliated faculty astronomers for 2014:


  • Dr. Michael Gregg (University of California, Davis) 
  • Dr. Gretchen Harris (University of Waterloo) 
  • Dr. William Harris (McMaster University) 
  • Dr. Christine Jones Forman (Harvards-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) 
  • Dr. Katherine Rhode (Indiana University) 
  • Dr. Peter Stetson (Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics, National Research Council of Canada) 

We received a record 230 applications for this year's astronomy REU program, shattering last year's previous record of 181 applications. The six chosen students chosen for 2014 are among the very best in the country. We're also pleased to note that two of our affiliated astronomers are former MMO REU students themselves who went on to successful careers as university professors. 


The students will use data from Hubble Space Telescope, leading ground-based telescopes, and next generation surveys such as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) for their projects. Additionally, they'll develop their hands-on observational skills with the MMO's 24-inch and 17-inch research telescopes. In addition, students have access to the digitized photographic plate collections of the MMO and the Harvard College Observatory, a unique historical resource for studies of variable objects over long time periods. 


Preservation Month with NPT

May is Preservation Month with Nantucket Preservation Trust (NPT).  On May 17th MMA is collaborating with NPT to do a Historic Oven Bake Demonstration

NPT has many events planned throughout the month of May.  Take a look at their calendar of events!

New Family Astronomy Activities Offered This Summer


This summer, MMA will offer several new hands-on astronomy activities for families. These include:

  • ARTstronomy (art + astronomy)
  • Blast Off (space exploration and rocketry)
  • Robot Explorers (robotics)
  • Catch A Star (astrophotography)

Caitlin Hay, a graduating senior from Gettysburg College, has been hired as our summer Astronomy Education intern to deliver these programs to children and parents. More information will be available soon on the MMA web page.  

Director of Astronomy Gives Talk at Yale

Michael West, Director of Astronomy, recently gave an invited talk about his research to Yale University's astronomy department. Titled "Galaxy Birth, Death and Reincarnation," the talk focused on work by West and an international team of collaborators to learn more about 'orphaned' star clusters that have been torn from their parent galaxies. He also gave an informal lunchtime talk about whether whales can see the stars, and spent much of the day meeting with professors, students, and postdocs.

Like Our Facebook Page and Be Entered to Win Prizes!

Are great prizes in your future? Help us reach 3,000 likes by June 1st and all new fans and the friends that asked them will be entered to win raffle prizes.

Upcoming Stargazing Nights

Loines Observatory
Friday, May 2nd and
Saturday, May 3rd, 9-10:30 PM

2014 Membership Renewal!
Don't forget to renew your membership for 2014 and register for summer Discovery Camp!  The purchase of a 2014 membership allows you to use our special benefits until December 31, 2014!   Membership with the MMA comes with many benefits including unlimited free admission to all of our locations, discounts on classes and special members only events, and a ten percent discount in the MMA gift shops.

Let us know what you think!

Which of our sites have you visited?

Write us a review on Trip Advisor

Connect with us:


Also follow our Astronomy news and tweets from @ACKstronomy.

 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
Michael Nelson, Treasurer
Malcolm MacNab, M.D., Ph.D., Clerk
Howard Blitman
Patricia L.R. Brennan, Ph.D. 
Patty Gibian 
Judy MacLeod 
Toni McKerrow

Mary Archibald (Bebe) Poor, D.V.M  

Eileen Rudden
Anne P. Strain
Edward Symes, III
Helene M. Weld



Administration (508)228-9198
Janet E. Schulte, Ph.D., Executive Director
Joan Alison Stockman, Financial Administrator

Kyra Taylor, Administrative Assistant
Astronomy (508)228-9723
Michael West, Director of Astronomy, Ph.D.
Vladimir Strelnitski, Maria Mitchell Observatory's Director Emeritus, Ph.D.
Gary Walker, Astronomer and Telescope Engineer

Mitchell House & Archives and Special Collections (508)228-2896
Jascin Leonardo Finger, Curator of the Mitchell House

Natural Science (508)228-9198
Andrew Mckenna-Foster, Director of Natural Science
Education (508)228-9198
Kim Botelho, Director of Education 
         Robert Kennedy, Senior Research Fellow, Ph.D.         
Edith F. Andrews,Ornithologist Emeritus
                                            Peter Boyce,  Research Associate, Ph.D.                                        
           Valerie A. Hall, 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