From the Director

by Rex Parker, PhD, Director





Your Attendance Essential at May 12 Meeting. (Bowen Hall, Princeton campus) May is the Annual Meeting for election of officers for the coming year. A membership quorum is needed to accomplish this, so please do your part and participate in the vote. The candidate slate is reviewed elsewhere in this issue (Elections 2015-2016). In addition, an important expenditure proposal for observatory instrument upgrades will be discussed and voted upon at the meeting. Details are described below.

For the main presentation, Dr. Timothy Morton of the Dept. of Astrophysics, Princeton University, will speak about his research in extra-solar planetary astronomy:  “The Astonishing Diversity of Planetary Systems”.  Dr Morton uses cutting edge technology and instrumentation to identify and evaluate planets around other stars, studies we could only imagine a decade ago.  In addition Dr Morton is adept with instruments of the musical variety, from flute, piano, and guitar to voice and choral.  For more on Dr. Morton’s AAAP talk on May 12, see elsewhere in this issue (May 12 talk).

Join Us for These AAAP Events.  Keeping the emphasis on high-tech we are rolling out a few projects and events that we hope will entice you to get involved:

  • May 16: Members-only special night at Washington Crossing Observatory. Unveiling the Mallincam astro-video, a new Paramount for the Hastings refractor, and two new telescopes. Please join us at the Observatory beginning at sunset to see what the excitement is all about.
  • June 19-20: Observing weekend at Cherry Springs State Park in northern PA, a remarkable dark sky site (minimal accommodations). Arrive Friday before sunset and return home Sunday.
  • Dates pending: Field trips to the US Naval Observatory in D.C., and to the famed Bell Labs Horn Antenna, Holmdel NJ (site of first discovery of the cosmic microwave background).
  • Sept 11-13: AAAP hosts Jersey Starquest, an observing weekend at a dark sky site with accommodations at Camp Hope in north Jersey near Jenny Jump State Forest.

AAAP Washington Crossing Observatory to Reopen May 8. The equipment and computer upgrades at Washington Crossing Observatory are nearing completion, and we we will re-open for member and public events beginning May 8.  Special thanks to Dave Skitt, Gene Ramsey, and John Church for installing the new Paramount-ME  and mounting the historic Hastings refractor. Also thanks to Brian Van Liew, Michael Mitrano, Larry Kane, and Jim Poinsett for helping with the video/telescope project. If you have further questions about observing or to begin training to become an Observatory Keyholder, please contact co-chairs Dave or Gene

Expenditure Proposal for Members Vote on May 12. As discussed at the April meeting, several additional components need to be purchased to complete the hardware and software upgrade project at WC Observatory. The total upper limit for the proposal to complete this project is $5000. This is well within our budget and treasury balance. Completing the upgrade project is critical to the AAAP’s mission of bringing observational astronomy to members and to the public. Detailed items and costs are listed below (thanks to Dave Skitt for providing the estimates). Depending on the options implemented, it is possible that less will be spent.  The Observatory Committee and the Officers recommend approval.

SkyX software and Paramount controller upgrades.

For the original AAAP Paramount ME.

  1. SkyX Professional software upgrade only: $245. Disks and download for 2 Windows computers. Any Add-ons would be extra (below)
  2. TPoint Add-on for SkyX above: $149. Camera Add-on: $199

— or–

  1. Universal Subscription for the whole SkyX suite (all Add-ons included): $700. This is discounted price (outright purchase would be $1200). Download for up to six Windows or Mac computers.

For the donated Paramount ME.

  1. “Transfer” License for the whole SkyX suite (all Add-ons included): $300. Download (likely) for up to six Windows or Mac computers. Software Bisque to confirm status of license and appropriateness of “Transfer” License price.
  2. MKS5000 electronic board upgrade for donated Paramount ME: $1700. Cost is such due to age of mount; upgrade requires more hardware along with the board.

Computer Upgrades.

  1. Desktop with solid state drive, keyboard, and monitor for AAAP Paramount ME: $950.
  2. Laptop with solid state drive for donated Paramount ME: $950.
  3. Miscellaneous cables/computer accessories: $200.
  4. Software upgrades for both mounts could be as low as $545 or as high as $1000. The electronics upgrade is fixed at $1700. The limit for two computers is estimated at $950 each, and $200 is added for miscellaneous unknowns.

Total proposed – $5000.

Depending on options it is possible that less will be spent. We are requesting authorization to spend up to $5000 to complete the current project.

This entry was posted in May 2015, Sidereal Times and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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