From the Director


by Rex Parker, PhD, Director

Change is in the wind for AAAP.  As director this season, my goal is to enhance the connections you make with AAAP, to expand your access to the Princeton Astronomy experience, to enrich the role of astronomy and scientific fellowship in your life.  A few impending changes follow.

  • Meetings will start at 7:30 p.m (instead of 8 p.m.) to get you in/out at a reasonable time. This will get you home earlier, and make it easier to stay around for the “business” meeting after the talk.
  • 5 min “Astronomic Experiences” to begin each meeting. I will be calling on you for a brief anecdote, a memorable recent experience, that shows why astronomy matters to you.
  • “Telescope of the Month” on display in Peyton Auditorium at our meetings. I will ask many of you to participate.  Does not need to be state of the art, rather whatever instrument you have to share.
  • Track & recognize volunteer contributions. Vibrancy of the club depends on your contributions.
  • Video astronomy is coming to AAAP Washington Crossing Observatory (see below).

We will continue our tradition of great monthly speaker presentations from faculties, community, and membership.  Please do let the Program Chair, Kate Otto ( and me know your thoughts to help identify future topics and speakers.

Video astronomy is proposed in order to evolve AAAP’s public outreach astronomy capabilities.  We recognize that Washington Crossing Observatory is a great place and that AAAP Friday night observing is well-received by members and public, kids and adults alike.  However, light pollution and poor sky conditions take a toll on effectiveness.  All of our keyholders can relate to the challenges that we often face.

  • Light pollution and sky conditions sub-optimal, yet public turnout is large.
  • Difficult for Keyholder Teams to showcase the deep sky.
  • Disappointing views through the telescope eyepiece, lost opportunities.

Members and observatory visitors tend to be technologically savvy.  While the eyepiece can be wonderful, it is not the only, nor best, approach under some conditions.  Most visitors are likely able to appreciate video images of the deep sky on a monitor.

  • I am proposing to improve our technology/hardware to provide live video astronomy. In this context, video is related to, but distinct from CCD imaging.
  • Video technology can break through mediocre weather/sky conditions. We can provide both video monitor and visual eyepiece presentation of deep sky objects through the telescopes.
  • Telescope/instrument changes at WC Observatory are necessary to achieve this goal.

How we can bring video astronomy to WC, and other topics, will be under discussion at the September meeting of AAAP.  Hope to see you there!

Important note: AAAP meetings at Peyton Hall will begin at 7:30 p.m. starting Sept 9.

This entry was posted in September 2014, Sidereal Times and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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