From the Director





by Rex Parker, Phd

Virtually Like the Professionals.
While COVID has wiped out a lot of ground-based astronomy around the world, astronomers are ahead of the curve in virtual and robotic technologies. Astronomy and all the sciences are community-driven activities even though they sometimes must be solo.  Innovation helps uncover ways to share under isolating social conditions and is advancing the field in ways we only imagined yesterday.  For example, AAAP Observatory Chair Dave Skitt has been exploring ways to stream video astronomy from the club’s telescopes and cameras to make it accessible to members and public.  Not only telescopes, but remote meetings and conferences are the way forward for the near future.  For example the professional American Astronomical Society (AAS) shifted its 236th annual meeting in June to virtual.  I will remind AAAP members here that AAS recently established an amateur membership category, and that you are eligible to join (as I have) using AAAP as your local organization.  And so, as AAAP member meeting via Zoom and participating in remote streaming video astronomy, you can be in the front wave of the evolving astronomy community.  You can play your part by participating and helping us move forward faster than the social shock wave expanding behind us.

Important AAAP Meeting June 09 via Zoom.
We will hold the last meeting of the academic season June 09 using the Zoom platform.  The May meeting had 59 members via Zoom and the feedback was generally positive.  I urge you to join the meeting June 09 because we have several important things to accomplish.  The June meeting has historically been held at the NJ State Planetarium, hosted by member and planetarium staffer Bill Murray.  So we thought it appropriate to invite Bill to give a presentation for the June 09 Zoom meeting as the guest speaker — see Ira’s Program Chair section below.

Key agenda items for June 09 “business” meeting on Zoom: 
(1) Resolution:  Capital Expenditure Authorization, vote by members.  

(2) Plan for re-opening the Observatory 

(3) Future meetings if Princeton University doesn’t open

Vote June 09 – Capital Expenditure for Observatory Columns Repair.
A resolution will be presented at the June 09 meeting for vote by members, which would authorize the expenditure of up to $9500 for observatory columns (pedestals) repair.  The member authorization vote is stipulated by the By-Laws (paragraph below).  The Treasury balance is approximately $15,000.  We recognize concern about the scale of this expenditure, yet balance this with the need to accomplish the repair.  There is no doubt that it is necessary for the continued operation of the Observatory.  

Regarding when to execute, there are a few points to consider.  We currently await State Park administration approval, based on a construction plan and cost estimate we obtained from a licensed masonry contractor who inspected the site.  Once the state allows us to proceed, we’ll need to schedule the work with the contractor.  In the interim the Board will continue to monitor the situation and determine the best time to execute the work and incur the expense, whether it goes as soon as possible or is deferred until later this year.  

The Bylaws stipulate:  … expenditure in excess of $1000 must be recommended by the Board of Trustees and the recommendation must be published in AAAP’s monthly newsletter together with the meeting date on which the expenditure will be voted.  The expenditure must then be approved by a majority of the votes cast and not less than 30% of the paid membership.  Members not attending the meeting may vote by mailed or e-mailed ballot provided that their ballot is received by the Secretary within 40 days of the meeting.

Reopening the Observatory – a Draft Plan for Operating in the Time of COVID.  
We’re all hopeful about reopening the Observatory at Washington Crossing State Park. The NJ DEP (which oversees state parks) requires that we provide an operating plan for reopening in the time of COVID.  The state has several restrictions in place, including 25 person limit and social distancing.  The Board is developing a draft Plan in reply to the state, but not all of the Plan is established yet.  Please feel free to offer your input by e-mail to me or the Observatory Chair.


  • Phase 1 – virtual astronomy originating from the Observatory (start date depends on state)  
    • State guidelines will be followed.  
    • AAAP Keyholders only will be allowed access to the observatory.  No more than 8 Keyholders can be in the building at any time, and not more than 25 total can be on the property.  The Observatory Chair will coordinate schedules. 
    • We will focus on setting up, enhancing, and training Keyholders in video astronomy capabilities, including setup of monitor and/or projector + screen outside the observatory building.  
    • Remote streaming video astronomy on internet platforms will be developed and a protocol established to bring remote astro sessions originating from club observatory equipment to members and the public.
    • Best practices to manage member and public social distancing are being analyzed and reviewed by the Board and others.  Phase 1 is intended to provide an opportunity to figure out what is practical and acceptable.  Procedures will include hand sanitizers, swiping surfaces, and displaying signs for public instruction.
  • Phase 2 – member and public astronomy at the Observatory (start date depends on state)
    • State guidelines will be followed.  
    • Not more than 25 people total will be permitted on the premises at any time.  Keyholders on duty will monitor. Visitors exceeding this count will be asked to wait at the Observatory gate.
    • Not more than 8 people total will be permitted in the Observatory at any time.
    • Best practices developed in Phase 1 (above) will be used to manage social distancing, group sizes, and hygiene for Friday “Open House” nights for members and public.  
    • The focus will remain on video astronomy until acceptable procedures for safe use of glass eyepieces are established.
    • All cars will be parked outside the gate, except for on-duty Keyholders who may park inside the gate on the field east of the building.
    • Up to 4 personal telescopes will be permitted on the observing field west of the Observatory, while groups of not more than 4 people may cluster around a given telescope, subject to social distancing.

Seek the Stars!

Meanwhile, to get away from all these concerns, seek out the stars!  I hope you’re getting outside at home and observing using your own personal telescope.  In many ways this is the essential domain of the amateur astronomer.  Below, I offer a few images taken in the past couple weeks with my own amateur equipment.  

Messier 63, sometimes called the Sunflower Galaxy

Messier 63, sometimes called the “Sunflower Galaxy”, in the constellation Canes Venatici. Astrophoto by Rex Parker from home observatory in NJ; 12.5 inch telescope with ZWO CMOS color camera.

Supernova in Messier 61 in Virgo

Supernova in Messier 61 in Virgo. Astrophoto by Rex Parker from home observatory in NJ; 12.5 inch telescope with SBIG ST10-XME CCD camera.

The Crescent Moon on May 26. 2020

The Crescent Moon on May 26. Astrophoto by Rex Parker from home observatory in NJ; 12.5 inch telescope with ZWO CMOS color camera

Posted in June 2020, Sidereal Times | Tagged , | Leave a comment

From the Program Chair

by Ira Polans, Program Chair

Monthly Meetings Resume–Virtually
The June meeting will be held on 9th at 7:30 PM using Zoom (See Using Zoom below for details). We will follow the same procedures that we did for May. This meeting is open to AAAP members and their friends and family. 

We are planning to make use of chat for the Q&A session and are planning on ways to reduce the background noise. To address background noise, we are going to follow the rules  in the table below regarding the audio. If the background noise gets to loud during Q&A or the Business Meeting we will Mute All.

Meeting Event Participant Can Speak? Participant Can Self-Unmute?
Rex’ General Remarks Yes Yes
Ira Speaker Introduction Yes Yes
Speaker Presentation No No
Q&A Session Start All on Mute Yes
Business Meeting Start All on Mute Yes

Only the Business part of the meeting will be locked.

Featured Speaker: Since we normally meet at the NJ State Planetarium in June, I thought it would be appropriate for club member  and planetarium host William Murray  to be the June speaker. Bill will give a talk on How the Stars Got Their Names. “Betelgeuse? How does a star get a name like Betelgeuse!” If you’ve ever wondered how stars have the really strange looking names that they do, what they mean and what those strange looking designations next to stars  on your star charts are this talk is for you. A light mix of stellar nomenclature and astronomical history will help you appreciate the hobby of astronomy a bit more.

Using Zoom: While we are, social distancing the Board has chosen to use Zoom (at least for May and June) based our belief that many members have already used Zoom and its ease of learning. One of its great features is you can choose whether you want to install the software on your computer or use it within your browser.

How to Join the June Meeting: For the meeting, we are going to follow a simple two-step process:

  1. A couple of days before the meeting I will send an email invitation to the membership with the meeting details.
  2. The night of the meeting just click on the link in the email and you will be taken to the meeting. You do not need a Zoom account or create one to join the meeting. Nor are you required to use a webcam.

NOTE: We plan to open the meeting site 15-20 minutes before the 7:30 start time. This way you won’t have to rush to join the meeting. If you haven’t updated to Zoom 5 prior to the meeting, please remember that Zoom will automatically install the update when you join the meeting.

More Information: The Zoom site has many training videos most are for people who are hosting a meeting. If you’re unsure how Zoom works you might want to view the videos on how to join a meeting or how to check your computer’s audio and video before the meeting.

Posted in June 2020, Sidereal Times | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Minutes of the May 12, 2020 AAAP General Meeting (online)

by John Miller, Secretary

  • This was the first virtual/online general member’s meeting of the AAAP since the club’s inception. Attendees were invited to participate via the cloud-based Zoom communications software. About 51 people were logged on at 7:45 p.m. This process was instituted due to the global Covid -19 pandemic. The Princeton Campus was in lock-down.
  • The proposed slate of Board of Trustees renewal for FY 2020 – 2021 was approved by a solid majority of the participating membership (which constituted a required 15% quorum). The Board = Director, Rex Parker; Assistant Director, Larry Kane; Secretary, John Miller; Treasurer, Michael Mitrano; Program Chair, Ira Polans.
  • Ira Polans introduced the evening’s guest speaker: Bob Vanderbei, Princeton faculty, as well as AAAP member. The presentation topic was “Astro Dynamics,” and was very well received.
  • Rex Parker raised the observatory pedestal repair issue (about 50 members were currently logged in at 8:45 p.m.) and he reviewed certain construction details. His report included the contractor’s current billing estimate of $8,500.00. Rex said he will suggest $9,500.00 in the budget as a buffer. Discussion continued regarding contractor oversight, quality control, AAAP inspection schedules, etc. Member John Church offered his time for on-site supervisory reviews.
  • Dave Skitt, Observatory Co-Chair, suggested contacting the WCSP manager (“Neil”) about next steps and proposed plans regarding moving ahead with the repair project.
  • The meeting ended with Dave Skitt giving a brief update concerning the NASA Night Sky Program. 35 attendees were logged in to Zoom at the time.

Click to enlarge picture

Posted in June 2020, Sidereal Times | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Outreach Blotter

by Gene Allen, Outreach Chair

This may really be the summer of our discontent. Since Baldpate Mountain in late February, all scheduled outreach events at schools and other venues, and the hosting of groups at Simpson Observatory, have been cancelled.  For the foreseeable future, no “normal” events will be scheduled.

We had decent success using Zoom to broadcast our May monthly meeting and we are considering ways we might elaborate on that to offer some sort of virtual observing experience as an outreach option. A session would obviously need to utilize an astronomical camera, so it could not satisfy any of those folks who “want those photons that have travelled for millions of years falling right on my eyeball!” Such a session could be promoted by any school, scout, or other group, with no need to assemble and effectively no limit on the number of attendees. There may be a better platform than Zoom. The best situation would be to once again have access to Simpson Observatory for an extremely limited group of keyholders.

Last year we were developing formal presentations, and this year it looks like we will be developing virtual observing sessions. If we are successful, we have the potential to also free ourselves from geographical restrictions and greatly extend our reach. Many questions arise:

  • Can we do so with adequate professionalism?
  • Will we then be competing with other astronomical organizations which are similarly unencumbered by geography and can offer a darker site, better hardware, and better production values?
  • Who among us has expertise or experience creating live or recorded video programs?
  • Do we duplicate tutorial programs that are already on YouTube to make them more personal or stick with live and locally specific material?

If you have helpful thoughts or skills that you can contribute to this effort, please do reach out to any of the Executive Board.

Posted in June 2020, March 2020, Sidereal Times | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Beginnings Just Open a Window

by Gene Allen

As a kid I had messed about spying on a nearby GSA depot at night with a poor department store refractor. I never saw anything move, let alone anything of interest, but out of hope I kept something of a vigil going. I remember the cold air pouring in from having my second floor window open just enough. I do not remember ever trying to point that scope at anything in the night sky, but that could be because I never had any success at it.

I first became interested in actual astronomy when I first looked through a “real” telescope. My first duty assignment after Undergraduate Pilot Training in the Air Force was a C130 squadron at Dyess AFB in Abilene, Texas. 

We moved into a little ranch house in base housing, and across the street lived a couple of native Texans. Phil was a radar nav on the B52s also stationed at Dyess, and Melanie was always  “a fixin ta do my warsh.” My wife Seraphine was always wondering if she ever actually did it.

One winter night at almost midnight came a gentle knocking at our door. I have no memory of what we were doing up that late, but we were in our early twenties, so that was less rare those days. It was Phil who said, “Sorry to disturb you so late, but I saw your lights were still on and I thought you might like to see the rings of Saturn.”

We bundled up and walked into the open field behind his house where his little refractor was set up. He re-centered his manual alt-az mount and there it was, in all its glory. It was tiny in the eyepiece, but the rings were readily discernible and truly unforgettable. That image has persisted in my mind for nearly fifty years so far. Phil has no idea what a monster he created!

Within a few years I made an attempt to learn about telescopes. It was much more difficult in those days, before the internet, the all-knowing Google, and the ultimate mentoring of Cloudy Nights. It amounted to brochures in snail mail and visits to rare and usually distant brick and mortar retail stores. Probably from an ad in an astronomy magazine, I learned that Roger Tuthill lived in Springfield, New Jersey, only about an hour away from my parents’ home. He would collimate and otherwise tune up Celestron SCTs, re-package them for safer shipping, and sell them for incrementally more.

I called and spent several hours in his home one afternoon, mostly listening to the conversation he and several friends or workmates were having. I didn’t know what to ask or how to ask it, so my fumbling was undoubtedly inane and annoying. We had zero disposable income at that point in our lives, so despite my desires, I was not a qualified buyer. 

I guess I decided it had to be that Celestron or nothing, because I just tabled my interest. My childhood experiences must have dissuaded me from repeating the department store scope folly with my own money. I never looked for a more economical way to get into astronomy. 

I enjoyed science and math in late elementary and high school, finding it accessible and satisfying. From re-promotion to the accelerated math track and physics mentoring in the algebra of units from Mr. Blumert, I ended up with a Bachelor of Engineering from Stevens. Throughout life I maintained an interest in “popular” physics, picking up a Scientific American magazine now and then, plus books such as Hawking’s “History.” It wasn’t until after my second retirement that I started to attend meetings of the AAAP. 

The monthly speakers were so fascinating and the folks so congenial and welcoming that I soon joined to support the organization. A few years in I decided to train as a Keyholder and had the honor of one-on-one training by the incomparable and so sadly late Gene Ramsey. 

My interest validated and confirmed, and my budget ample, I dove into research to choose my own hardware. After nearly a year on the Cloudy Nights Forums, I selected a Tele Vue 85 as my first and forever scope. Building on that foundation, I have continued to learn and grow, but I will never hold a candle to the mental acuity and dexterity – the utter brilliance – of some of our Members. It is truly an honor to belong.

Posted in June 2020, Sidereal Times | Tagged | Leave a comment

a few astrophotographs taken this past week

by Robert Vanderbei

Below is the picture I took two night’s ago of the Needle Galaxy (aka NGC 4565).

NGC4565 - edge on galaxy, The Needle Galaxy

NGC 4565, The Needle Galaxy – image by Robert Vanderbei

For those who are interested in more details about the telescope, the camera, and the exposure, check out this webpage.

And, a few nights before that I grabbed a new pic of globular cluster M5 which I then combined with one taken some years ago to make an animated gif showing several blinking RR Lyrae stars and a few Cepheids.

Here’s the webpage with those pics (scroll down to the third image to see the animated gif).


Posted in June 2020, Sidereal Times | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Rip Van Winkle

by Theodore R Frimet

Ok. Let’s combine a few items, spill some Java onto it, toss it onto the wall, and see what sticks:

  • Rip Van Winkle
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Space Time Dilation
  • Iron as an abundant chemical element in the Universe
  • When stars go Nova

When we were young, time would not hold still. Tired, and groggy eyed, we would awake each morning. If you would call it that. More like dragging our souls thru the muck and mire of the morning cuckold. Cruel passion that is evolution. Matron earth bears naked before us, only to tease us into sleep. She desires not our daily action, and prefers the hominid to perish before the light of day.

Yet, here we are. Humans aged to ripe perfection. Blessed are the few minutes more sleep, where we conjure up wishful thinking. We construe that hours, and not fleeting moments, continue to nestle us during sound slumber.

Why the dichotomy? It is our circadian rhythm. Unknown to the teenager, raging against the high school home-room nod, beckons the molecular machinery that establishes our wake/sleep cycles. Clearly, by the time we grow beyond our pupal stage, our ephemeris as a moth in flight, no longer do we flail about, victim to the chains of the stubborn and persistent snooze alert.

Did Rip Van Winkle sleep naught? Of course he did! Beyond the tome of the day, night after night, week after week, year after year. Among us was the one. Ol Rip managed to string out before himself, the years of molecular management. Time, it would seem, was the only element that passed him by.

I have a secret. Rip almost had it right. He left it to chance. We shall not encourage any fancy, here. We shall use Alchemy!

Now, now. It isn’t heresy. Even Newton was an alchemist. And truth be told, alchemy persists in the light of stars.

It is thru the fusion of Helium and Hydrogen that we are blessed with an abundance of elements throughout the Universe. Transitions not made in multiples of a Mass of 4 (He), or by virtue of fusing Hydrogen, are made quick by fusing super-bricks of Oxygen to yield Sulfur. This amongst other tricks the Universe has taught herself, yields plenty that has entrenched itself into the Periodic Table of Elements.

Be not remiss in understanding that the nuclear chemistry of what should be plentiful, is not. Beryllium, should be in abundance.Yet as it is coalesced into Carbon it is diminished in quantity. Ah, carbon! That four bonded parlance that is almost equaled by Silicon.

Oh, into the night we see the shore, and sand is upon its breast. Yet carbon, carbon I find not – as it is compelled throughout the ages to be ever present in the topsoil of our mutual existence. Yet the rock that strikes from beyond the Earth is Iron made. And iron, as every Amateur Astronomer knows, is an element that once it strikes the core of a star, sets the stage for the celestial death.

It is a Sunday morning, and we trudge thru a few botany slides. Root tip of plant. Apical bud. Complex stems, followed by monocotyledon, and dicotyledon. A fever of thought effuses throughout as we slide home into penicillium.

Leeuwenhoek, if only you had the power of 40x plan to ponder in stereoscopic wonder! How much more you would have accomplished for all of us, during the Dutch Golden Age of Science and technology? Perhaps your best work with microbes, and observations of micro-anatomical flow thru capillaries did lay the foundation as our Father of Microscopy.

Yet, here we all hunker down. More than 225 years have passed us by. If only you had the chance observations of the affect of a complex fungus on simple bacillus, this nascent passage of time would gift modern science with the ability to scale up anti-viral production in fewer than 711 Sols.

Tyson reminds us that the ever expanding Universe, will of course, ever expand. And with that passage of time, the light that we see will eventually blink out of existence. Black holes, too, are not exempt from the passage of time, as they too lose their stability and go silently into that good night.

Yet even with Tyson’s description of the end all of existence, you can’t help and remember that the light that we see is only a fraction of what is gifted to the human eye over the course of darwinian natural selection. I have written, on a few occasions, to remind the reader that insects see into the Ultra Violet. This is more than you or I could hope for in a hundred generations of our specie. Yet that too is only a small footprint of the wide scope of the ever present electromagnetic spectrum and the dynamics of Darwinism.

Then what am I missing? Nothing here, obviously, since despite not being able to hear the tree fall in the forest, it doesn’t preclude the possibility, nay the fact, that the tree exists. It is a humbling experience to come to terms that the UV sight within the brain of a humble fruit fly answers to the age old domain of students of philosophy, everywhere.

A fly, it would seem on the face of it, is smarter than the average hominid.

You see and hear by proxy. Others, no matter how insignificant you declare them to be, shape your very existence within the confines and blanket of a Universe that would leave you cold and dissipating to the very bitter end. Closer to home, without your conscious awareness, your structure within reality weaves in and out of nearby mass and energy.

Looking deeper into the quantum foam of your space-time disruption; it heaves up and out to a chair, a table, a desk. When your macroscopic being walks into an establishment, no sooner than you arrive, you exchange energy and matter with objects within your reference frame. You are more part of the furniture than you would give a passing thought to ever imagine.

Your partnership with the rest of the minor non-dark matter, non-dark energy world that you believe you inhabit instantiates a tremor, deep within your forebrain. You dismiss the notion of the passing tension, ascribing it to nothing more than a brief encounter with acute anxiety. Yet you have not sufficiently evolved to reconnoiter your surroundings. Your neuropathic knee-jerk kicks up a sandstorm described by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross.

Kübler-Ross provides the very foundation for a sane explanation to those around you. The why and when of the cloak of preferred invisibility is removed and it disturbs the nature of your beast.

You, as a customer. enter a place of servitude. You possessed a well thought out plan that you were shielded from reality. It disassembles as you now rage against a storm of the unreal.

Your gilded psychology presses into service: Anger, Denial, Bargaining, Depression, and eventually Acceptance. These are the meager tools that you can deploy. It gets you through your commercial needs. Or so your evolved sense of self tells you.

Where are we on the time-line? Let’s rough it out, shall we? 10,000 years since you stepped out of a grotto in the South of France. 6 million years ago your species was divergent. 65 million years ago, your reptile brain survived the K/T extinction. We could go on, and on, into mass extinctions, without even leaving our solar system. The sentient experience, a highly prized neurology, is nothing more than a quirk of evolution. A passing high energy photon struck a minor genomic sequence, leaving your molecular machinery failing to repair the damage. A mutation was left to transcribe to the next generation. Your brain expanded so much, that only those that could form convolutions and survive the onslaught of psychosis could pervade the landscape of terra firma.

I am here to tell, that you will be left high and dry, when the lights go out. Evolution simply has not imbued you with sufficient coping mechanisms. Only the brave need read on: if you saw reality as it actually exists, you would toss your cookies before lunchtime.

“Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.” -quips Ford, from Betelgeuse, to a main character in Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Ford, get out of there before the Red Giant goes Nova! Denial. Too late for bargaining. And very much past acceptance. You see, we only get to see things, from within our horizon. Those celestial events already occurred and have marked their place in space-time, long, long ago. Even the Universe, it would seem, has been programmed to only acknowledge events, way past their tipping points. She isn’t as evolved as existence would have preferred it to be? No, I say.

Experiential conditions in the here and now, well beyond the Astronomers horizon shares its reality and dispels the mistaken notion that everything must obey the limits imposed by the speed of light. It remains entirely possible that within the twinkle of a star, although very far, can share its very structure with you, and you with it. Instantaneously. So breathe, Earthling, and know that not only are you made of the stuff of stars, your very being trips the light fantastic.

Posted in June 2020, Sidereal Times | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Where Science Fiction meets Science Tea Time…

by Theodore R Frimet

burn baby, burn

K2 kicked up a sand storm this morning. She wandered in and started cursing me out. Why, or why did you click on the Astronomy posts in Linked-In? You should be reading Sidereal Times, old sport!

Evidently, reading science fiction posing as science got under her skin. So much so, she decided to hang out until breakfast was served.

Two eggs, sunny side up, accompanied by two slices of turkey bacon. Coffee, black. Yummy!

The linked-in astro group espoused a certain logic. That there were planets that were destroyed by mutual collisions. Of course collisions could be construed as mutual! After all, what is the sound of one hand clapping? 

Time and time again, we are entertained by the notion that our early solar system was abounded by collision and accretion. How else would be standing on terra firma? If it weren’t for that last great substantive push, we would have neither spin, or stable orbit. Yes, I am barking mad at the moon.

The member artist continues to tease us with the many asteroids that were the result of aforementioned planetary destructions. There aren’t enough pieces in our local cosmic jigsaw puzzle to add up the missing density of two or more bigger silicon rocks. The math didn’t pan out for “where is Vulcan”, let alone, “where is Waldo”?

Getting my mean streak on, due to the anonymity of the morning post, I leave behind my trail of breadcrumbs, just in case meteorites should befell the path before us:

Hi. Nice post, and thought provoking. 

Mars is a protoplanet that lacked the density to retain its atmosphere. I am hopeful that might explain the lack of a life supporting atmosphere on Mars.

The internal temperature of the Sun does not provide for gas giants to form close by, as did the silicate based hard, dense rocky planets.

As for the the “two missing” or non-populated orbits between the gas giants, and the inner rocky planets – sure – there could have been a collision – yet the substantive debris you describe does not support the missing mass.

It is far more likely that the heat, gravity, and the earlier Jovian orbits cleared out the non-populated orbit that you attempted to describe.

My title promised tea time. Please forgive me my gaff, as my prototypical tea turns out to be another cup of Joe.

K2, having read over my recent stab at mediocre astro-lunacy, has something more to say on the matter:

To understand the key interests in self-understanding, one need look no further than the proviso that passions do not pursue the facts. That is self-limiting, and down right dangerous.

Use your reason to pursue your passion. In this fashion, unlike Bruno, you’ll likely not be burned at the stake. -Twasilater.

Posted in June 2020, Sidereal Times | Tagged | Leave a comment

A Storm is Coming

by Theodore R Frimet

I am not asking for solutions for racism. I don’t expect much from me, either. How can I contribute to a movement away from death and destruction while I live in a society that tends to forget yesterdays news? All the while people thrive on reading a 10 word sentence from a racist pundit? I find it hard to compete with that.

Good people are often divided not only by their intuition, their judgments and reasoning can also be askew. Despite being substantially incorrect, they continue clinging to far flung reasoning. All of this misplaced effort is to support their failed judgement system. When their judgements completely collapse, they rely on like minded groups for support. This is in part, is why failed social systems continue to thrive.

I heard on the radio an idea that was easy to validate. That not all members of the police force that wear the color blue are trained for every aspect of their job. Our executive system injects our men and women in blue into every conceivable event that requires policing. In short form, if I were going to serve a Warrant, it requires officers trained in application of force. You wouldn’t however bring that officer to a hostage negotiation, or to talk someone off a ledge?  Would you use Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) to serve a warrant? Happens all the time.

The psychology and demands of the uniform are quite different. And therein lay the rub. There are NO laws governing who and in what circumstances officers offer their response. They are expected to do everything. And yes, it is crystal clear that they cannot. We need to seriously decommission the access to weapons and tactics and limit their scope to the origins of the idea to serve and protect.

The civil rights movement started before I was born, and gained traction within the first ten years of my life. If I may make claim to be a child, shaped by the events of our generation of the 1960’s, then we have failed miserably. The horror that we committed against humanity before the civil rights movement are more than echoes of our past. They continue to be the fuel that has been spewed as racist imagery to American’s born since then.

It would go a long way if we could remove racism from the body of the executive. I would start limiting the scope of all police officers. Put them into the jobs that they can be trained for, and never into a position that would put the rest of us into harms way. 

Given the very nature of policing, officers are empowered to not only protect life, are also given lawful access to take away life. The Executive Order that provided oversight, before 2016, was removed. Can I in hindsight, and as a neophyte politicist, even suggest that if oversight remained in place that Mr Floyd would not be murdered? Racism abounds and it will take concerted efforts to make a true and lasting social change.

It should be clear to everyone by now, that the shield and oath of law enforcement will no longer provide protection in a court of law. As a law abiding citizen that has firm belief in the Second Amendment, all have access to the force of arms and a Constitution to make a convincing argument. 

Your services are no longer required. Take a knee, racist, while you can. A storm is coming. It is coming to replace your fallible intuition, broken judgement, and failure to reason with all of America.

Posted in June 2020, Sidereal Times | Tagged , , | Leave a comment


compiled by Arlene & David Kaplan

AP Photo

NASA, SpaceX launch astronauts from US soil
Kennedy Space Center- A SpaceX spacecraft carrying two NASA astronauts soared into outer space Saturday — marking the first time humans have traveled into Earth’s orbit from US soil in nearly a decade. Liftoff occurred just after 3:20 pm ET from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center…more


SpaceX picture-perfect space station docking
Nineteen hours after a spectacular Florida launch, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule caught up with the International Space Station early Sunday and glided in for a problem-free docking, bringing veteran astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken…more

Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope.


NASA Names Dark Energy Telescope for Nancy Grace Roman
NASA announced Wednesday that one of its most ambitious upcoming space telescopes would be named for Nancy Grace Roman, who pioneered the role of women in the space agency. Dr. Roman was a pioneer at NASA, joining the agency in its early days and becoming its first chief astronomer…more

-Gemini Observatory

Scientists obtain ‘lucky’ image of Jupiter
Astronomers have produced a remarkable new image of Jupiter, tracing the glowing regions of warmth that lurk beneath the gas giant’s cloud tops. Astronomers have produced a remarkable new image of Jupiter, tracing the glowing regions of warmth that lurk beneath the gas giant’s cloud tops. The picture was captured in infrared by the Gemini North Telescope…more

-Open University

Mars: Mud flows on Red Planet behave like ‘boiling toothpaste’
An international team of researchers wondered how volcanoes that spew mud instead of molten rock might look on the Red Planet compared with their counterparts here on Earth. In chamber experiments, simulated Martian mud flows were seen to behave a bit like boiling toothpaste…more


‘Nearest black hole to Earth discovered’
It’s about 1,000 light-years away, or roughly 9.5 thousand, million, million km, in the Constellation Telescopium. That might not sound very close, but on the scale of the Universe, it’s actually right next door. Scientists discovered the black hole from the way it interacts with two stars – one that orbits the hole, and the other that orbits this inner pair…more

Help the Smithsonian transcribe the work of the Harvard Observatory’s women computers and see which stars shine the brightest. PLEASE NOTE: Please follow these special instructions when transcribing these notebooks.

Posted in June 2020, Sidereal Times | Tagged , | Leave a comment