From the Program Chair

By Ira Polans

James Chen

The November AAAP meeting will be held on the 14th at 7:30PM in Peyton Hall on the Princeton University campus. The talk is by James Chen on his book “Astronomy for Older Eyes”. This month we are introducing a new format to the meetings. After the Rex’ introductory comments one of our members will give a 10 minute talk on an astronomy related topic. This will be followed by the guest speaker’s presentation. Then there will be the regular break followed by the business meeting.

Jim Chen’s book is for the aging amateur astronomy population, including newcomers to astronomy in their retirement and hobbyists who loved peering through a telescope as a child. Whether a novice or an experienced observer, the practice of astronomy differs over the years. This guide will extend the enjoyment of astronomy well into the Golden Years by addressing topics such as eye and overall health issues, recommendations on telescope equipment, and astronomy-related social activities especially suited for seniors.

Many Baby-Boomers reaching retirement age are seeking new activities, and amateur astronomy is a perfect fit as a leisure time activity. Established backyard astronomers who began their love of astronomy in their youth, meanwhile, may face many physical and mental challenges in continuing their lifelong hobby as they age beyond their 55th birthdays. That perfect telescope purchased when they were thirty years old now suddenly at sixty years old feels like an immovable object in the living room. The 20/20 eyesight has given way to reading glasses or bifocals. Treasured eyepieces feel all wrong.

Growing old is a natural process of life, but astronomy is timeless. With a little knowledge and some lifestyle adjustments, older astronomers can still enjoy backyard observing well into their seventies, eighties and even into their nineties.

During the break James’ book will be available as part of a book signing.

Our first 10 minute talk will be given by Peter Wraight. Peter will talk about two topics “A Different Approach to Building Astronomical Binoculars” and “A Generalized Coordinate and Finder System for Locating Celestial Objects” For the first topic Peter will present binocular designs that attempt to overcome some of the drawbacks of regular binoculars for astronomy. Two examples will be shown: one using 100 mm f/4 objective lenses and the other using 6 inch f/5 mirrors. The second topic is about the Tri-Finder system a fully generalized star reference coordinate system which enables a telescope to be pointed to within 0.5 degrees of any absolute position in the sky by only using two guide stars of 3rd magnitude or brighter. This accuracy is available over the entire sky and is achieved without any specific alignment or precision of the telescope mount.

If you are interested in giving a 10 minute talk at a future meeting please contact me at Please let me know the topic and your availability.

Prior to the meeting there will be a meet-the-speaker dinner at 6PM at Winberie’s in Palmer Square in Princeton. If you’re interested in attending please contact no later than Noon on September 12.

If you have suggestions for speakers please send them to Please provide the speaker’s name, topic, and affiliation. Thanks!

We look forward to seeing you at the September meeting and the dinner!

This entry was posted in November 2017, Sidereal Times and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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