From the Director




by Rex Parker,  Director

June 14 meeting – quorum needed for proposal below – please participate in the motion. We’ll be meeting at the NJ State Museum Planetarium, our tradition each June. Bill Murray, AAAP member and staff technical guru at the Planetarium, will be running the show. See Ira’s section in this month’s Sidereal Times.

Capital expenditure proposal at June 14 meeting: Authorize expenditure of up to $10,000 to acquire a telescope for the Observatory. Specifically the idea is to purchase a telescope to co-mount with the Hasting 6” refractor on the second Paramount at the club’s Washington Crossing Observatory. The goal is to obtain the new scope in time to support this summer’s observing season. The treasury can readily absorb the expenditure. I will also appoint and chair a committee to decide on the specific telescope.

AAAP by-laws state: “For expenditures or appropriations in excess of $500 per meeting, a quorum of 40% of the membership shall be required; up to 25% of the membership may be represented by written and signed absentee ballot on an expenditure question that has been previously published in the Association’s monthly newsletter.”

Rationale and recommendation for the proposed new telescope. One of our greatest assets is the Observatory at Washington Crossing State Park. It enables the direct experience of astronomy for our members and provides the stage for public outreach where we connect with hundreds of kids and adults every year. As detailed in the plan reviewed by the Board 2 years ago, the goal is to upgrade the telescopes and instruments and computer/software systems to improve the quality of the experience at the Observatory. Some of the equipment has indeed been upgraded. To complete the plan, the current proposal is to acquire an instrument that compliments the existing telescopes. It would be primarily used visually but should be capable of digital imaging as well.

The recommendation, discussed at the March Board meeting, is to identify a telescope designed to excel at planetary/lunar/double star observing as well as the smaller deep sky objects such as planetary nebulae. Candidates (likely “used” scopes) include a 6” apochromatic refractor, 10” Maksutov-Cassegrain reflector, Dall-Kirkham Cass (such as a Takahashi Mewlon), or maybe a dedicated solar scope. At least two used telescopes have been identified to date that fit the requirements. There will be time to discuss which scope and why over the next several weeks, but the time to conduct the procedural requirement is June 14 if we want to acquire it this summer.

Seeking a new Co-Editor of Sidereal Times. We seek a member with the “right stuff” to succeed Michael Wright as co-editor of the ST, along with Surabhi Agarwal who will continue. Sidereal Times is the official voice of AAAP and is updated on-line monthly as a blog on our website. The co-editor manages written contributions from members and has the opportunity to apply creative writing skills and become proficient in WordPress. This is a visible and high status role in the club and brings internet visibility to the editors and contributors and the club as a whole. Please contact me and/or Surabhi if interested.

Plan to attend Jersey StarQuest Oct 28-30. If you’d like to get away from light pollution with your telescope but wonder where to go and safely observe in public places, Starquest is an opportunity to observe under some of the better skies in the NJ area. AAAP will host the annual Jersey StarQuest Oct 28-30, 2016 at the Hope Conference and Renewal Center in Hope, NJ. This family-friendly event is located in northern Jersey (north of Jenny Jump State Forest). If you don’t own a scope, this is an excellent event to observe through many different kinds and learn more about telescopes and mounts. The venue offers a fine observing field with electricity under good skies, modern bunkhouses, showers, and group lobby area with kitchen. Registration will be walk-in with modest pay-on-arrival fee. Mark your calendar!


NGC672, interacting galaxies in the constellation Triangulum. Credit: Rex Parker, 2016,

NGC672, interacting galaxies in the constellation Triangulum. Credit: Rex Parker, 2016,

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