March 12, 2013 AAAP Meeting Minutes

by Michael Wright, Secretary

The meeting was called to order by Director Ludy D’Angelo. He welcomed everyone to the meeting.

Michael Wright, Secretary, introduced the speaker, Dr. Rachel Somerville, Professor of Astrophysics at Rutgers. He congratulated her on the 2013 Dannie Heineman Prize for Astrophysics from the American Institute of Physics and the American Astronomical Society “for providing fundamental insights into galaxy formation and evolution using semi-analytic modeling, simulations and observations.” Dr. Somerville presented an informative lecture entitled “The Intertwined Lives of Galaxies and their Super-massive Black Holes” and answered many questions from the audience.

After a brief break, Ludy reconvened the business portion of the meeting.

  1. Keyholders: Ludy presented new keys to David and Jennifer Skitt. Gene Ramsey, Observatory Chair, said that David and Jennifer brought their 8-inch Celestron SCT to most public nights last season, braved many cold nights during their training, and completed extra training hours.
  2. Observatory (part 1): Rex Parker asked for a decision on the $625 quote he obtained to repair the spauled concrete on the columns. A motion to approve by Michael Mitrano, Treasurer, and seconded by Michael Wright, Secretary, was approved unanimously by the Board. John Church and Gene Ramsey offered to be onsite when the work is done. John cautioned that the contractor would probably need to bring his own water because the supply at the observatory may not be adequate for his work.
  3. 50th Anniversary Celebration: Ludy opened a discussion of a proposed budget for the event presented to the Board by Kate Otto, Program Chair, by questioning whether sponsors should be allowed to have advertisements on the club website. He said that the membership had been opposed to the idea in the past. In addition, he questioned whether the needed funds could be collected from sponsors. A poll of the membership present revealed that a majority supported offering ads on the club website to sponsors. The ads will be removed at the end of 2013. Kate explained that the plan is to offset the event costs through sponsorships so members’ costs are reasonable and the club does not have to use reserves. Michael Mitrano explained the expenditure approval process. Kate said that she and the volunteers would do their best to meet the goal. Rex volunteered to contact a potential sponsor. Payment methods were discussed. Michael Mitrano preferred paper forms and checks because he did not have the time to set up other methods. He said that Paypal would be fine provided that the person who sets it up ensures that the funds are directed to AAAP’s bank account. Surabhi Agarwal agreed to work with John Miller, Webmaster, to advertise the event on the website. Ludy suggested that all attendees pay the registration fee. It was decided that invited guests, such as the discussion panel, would not be charged. Michael Wright explained a worst-case-scenario budget if no sponsors are obtained. Kate said that the event could be cancelled if the plan does not work out. Ludy was concerned about the impression this leaves with the sponsors and invited guests. Kate agreed to finalize the budget based upon the feedback received and forward a revised version to the Board within one week.
  4. Program Chair:: Kate said that the speaker for the April meeting is author Michael Lemonick.
  5. Observatory Donation: Michael Mitrano reported that the committee is consulting with masons and obtaining quotes for the foundation and walls. Jim McHenry reported that they are still waiting for approvals from the Park. Michael agreed to contact the donor. John Church cautioned about the existing water line, which is near the proposed location for the new observatory.
  6. Jenny Jump: Ludy announced that UACNJ is holding a work party at Jenny Jump on March 16, 2013. They would like AAAP to paint our observatory and repair the breaker box cover. He asked that members contact him if they are available to help.
  7. Observatory (part 2): Gene reported that Neil Ferrari, Park Administrator, advised that the Church Road/Brick Yard Road gates would be replaced this week. The park’s locks are still on the gates so Gene will coordinate with Neil to get the locks switched. The water at the observatory will be turned on soon. Ludy advised that several keyholders are no longer participating or have not renewed their memberships. Gene will delete these keyholders and revise the team rosters
  8. Outreach Report: David Letcher solicited volunteers for the following events:
    • Screening of “The City Dark” at Pennington Library
    • Orchard Hill School Space Nights
    • Millstone River School
    • D&R Greenway Leonids Observing on Monday, August 12, 2013 at St. Michaels Farm Preserve in Hopewell Township.
  9. Nominations Committee: Jim Poinsett, Nominations Committee Chair, said that he has candidates for
    each position and will present the slate at the April meeting. Ludy reminded that the election will be at the May meeting. Kate said that there will not be a speaker that month because the 50th Anniversary Celebration will be the weekend before the regular meeting.
  10. Sidereal Times: Michael Wright thanked members for their contributions. He said that Sidereal Times is better than most club newsletters because the club has so many talented and knowledgeable members willing to contribute. He appealed to members to keep contributing content to Sidereal Times. The deadline for submitting articles for the April issue is March 28, 2013.
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