Ludovico D’Angelo, Director
Happy Anniversary to our club! This month marks the 50th anniversary of the first recorded meeting in November 1962. I feel privileged to be the club’s Director at this time. Plans are moving forward for a special event to commemorate this milestone.
In 1962, I was all of 1½ years old when the club was started. My first remembrances of anything astronomy/space related were of course the Mercury to Apollo space programs. The landings on the moon really made me interested. I was riveted to the TV and the broadcasts of the missions. I started to collect books, build model rockets and pretended to be an astronaut with the borrowed shopping cart space ship. Didn’t we all have one? My father worked at the physics annex lab near Fitzrandolph Observatory on the Princeton University campus. He was a maintenance person there. He had gone to university in Italy, was a smart man, and met many of the professors at his work. He was always interested in physics. He got me my first telescope: a small Newtonian that a professor gave to him. I think I was about 8 or 9 years old.
As a teenager, I started attending the open houses at Peyton Hall. I viewed Saturn through the Alvin Clark telescope that is now a museum piece in the dome conference room of Peyton Hall. I attended lots of meetings then (probably AAAP meetings!). I visited the Fritzrandolph Observatory also. I saw my first transit, the transit of Mercury, on the rooftop of the then new Fine Hall building (I was in 8th grade). I remember waking up very early to be there at sunrise to view the transit. This year I saw the transit of Venus. Astronomy and the AAAP, I am sure, were very active as I was growing up in Princeton. Since I could never afford a telescope when I was younger, the passion for astronomy drained away as I graduated high school. Since there were no telescopes where I went to school in Wisconsin, there was no upkeep of my interest there. That was a shame really, since it was very dark there when you went into the countryside.
My interest was sparked once again when my wife asked if it would be a good idea to get a telescope for my 8-year old triplet boys. I said: Sure! What a great idea! So the first scope I got for them was a Meade ETX -90 under adult supervision of course. I now own a Celestron 9.25 SCT and a PST. We all joined the AAAP soon afterwards. I became its Secretary in 2007, and have been on the Board since then except for 1 year. I am the current Director of the AAAP.
What I presented is a little of my history related to our hobby, an interest that may come and go, but it is always there if you want it to be.
I know there are many similar stories out there among the club members. Let’s hear yours this year as we commemorate our 50th! How about an article or two each month? Tell your story! Let others know of your enthusiasm!
Hurricane Sandy has come and gone. I hope that all of you have gotten power back by the time this reaches you. The state park at Washington Crossing is currently closed due to storm damage. Many trees have fallen in the park. We have a report the observatory has not been damaged. When we are able to access the park again, we will inspect the workings in more detail.
See you all at our next meeting on November 13th at 8 PM. We are back to Peyton Hall on the Princeton University campus.