April 3, 2014

The Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association
E-Comet Newsletter

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

Spaces are filling up fast!  Be sure to reserve your 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. 

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.

MMA Spring 2014 Newsletter

Did you see our Spring Newsletter with updates from the Departments of Astronomy, Education, Mitchell House, and Natural Sciences?  There's a lot going on at MMA all year-round!


One correction to make, though.  We are working with the Nantucket Flying Association on the "Air of Opportunities" program, not the Egan Maritime Institute.  (Though we do love collaborating with them whenever we get the chance.)

Garter Snakes on Nantucket Look Different!


Scott Smyers, Ecologist at Oxbow Associates, along with MMA's Andrew Mckenna-Foster and former MMA intern Jonathan Shuster, have published a paper quantifying how different Nantucket garters look from mainland garters.  Unlike mainland snakes, Nantucket garters do not have a distinctive stripe down their backs.  Instead, they have a checkered pattern of dark spots. There are many possible hypotheses to explain this: maybe it is genetic, maybe it is due to different temperature needs, or maybe it is because snakes face different predators here.  Garter snakes on other islands show similar differences in patterning so this is not a unique occurrence.  Smyers and MMA staff will continue to study Nantucket snake populations.  The Nantucket Conservation Foundation, the Linda Loring Nature Foundation, and the Tuckernuck Land Trust have all generously allowed this research to take place on their properties.


A garter snake from the mainland on the left and one from Nantucket on the right.
Paper Citiation: Smyers, S. A. Mckenna-Foster, and J. Schuster. 2014. Quantification of color pattern variation in the common garter snake
(Thamnophis sirtalis) from two coastal islands and mainland, Massachusetts, USA. Herpetological Review 45(1), 8-12. 


Astronomy Director Publishes Essays in The Washington Post and USA Today

Michael West, Director of Astronomy, recently had an essay titled After Cosmos: The Universe in 31 Numbers published in The Washington Post.


He also had another essay published in USA Today titled  

What compels us to explore starry skies?

NanoDays A Great Success

Over the weekend, 128 people dropped in to learn about nano science and nanotechnology (really really small stuff!) at the Nantucket Cottage  Hospital.  Thanks to a solid core of volunteers, we were able to run 20 hands on activities for visiting families.  One section contained activities that directly relate to how nanotechnology has improved medicine and our health.  Thanks to everyone who dropped by!

Observatory Hosts Visit By New School
2nd Grade Students

Education Director Kim Botelho and Astronomy Director Michael West recently hosted a visit to the Vestal Street Observatory by 2nd grade students, teachers, and parents from Nantucket's New School. Students, who knew an impressive amount of astronomy already, got to look at the Sun up close through MMA's new solar telescope. They also learned about the size of our solar system from MMA's scale model and got to take home some real stardust from space rocks. A special stargazing night was also held for the students, teachers, and parents at Loines Observatory, with about two dozen people attending.


Sign Up for AstroAlerts!

Want to stay up to date on the latest astronomy news or find out when the International Space Station is visible over Nantucket? Sign up for our free AstroAlerts on our website or follow @ACKstronomy on Twitter.

Spring Programs & Activities

Earth Day
Tuesday, April 22nd.
Check our calendar for Earth Day activities.

Ravenous Reptiles
Ages 4 and older. Select Saturdays,
11-11:45 AM.  Pre-registration required.

Turtles & Tots
Ages 2-5. Select Wednesdays,
9:30-10 AM.   Pre-registration required.

Upcoming Stargazing Nights

Loines Observatory
Friday, April 4th and
Saturday, April 5th, 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
Get Involved


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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
email: info@mariamitchell.org

phone: (508)228-9198
fax: (508)228-1031
web: http://www.mariamitchell.org
Maria Mitchell Association