January 9, 2018 Meeting Minutes

by Victor Davis on behalf of Jim Poinsett, Secretary

Minutes of the January 2018 meeting of the Amateur Astronomers Association of Princeton

  • Director Rex Parker opened the meeting by challenging members to spot several new comets well placed for observation during January. He invited members to report their sightings—or valiant attempts—at the next meeting
  • Science writer Michael Lemonick talked about the lives and accomplishments of the Herschel family; William, his sister Caroline, and son John, based on his book “The Georgian Star: How William and Caroline Herschel Revolutionized Our Understanding of the Cosmos.” The book’s publisher did not provide copies for sale and signing at the meeting.
  • Mr. Lemonick previously spoke to the club in April, 2013 about the search for extrasolar planets, and autographed copies of his book “Mirror Earth.”
  • Member Participation
    • Rex talked about his desire to increase member involvement in club activities and encouraged members to present 10-minute demonstrations or mini-lectures to share their knowledge and experiences. He also put in a pitch for more members to use the online observatory network in which AAAP participates and has a financial stake.
  • Treasurer
    • Rex gave Treasurer Mike Mitrano a check for $2100; proceeds from selling donated equipment on Astromart.
  • Constitutional Amendment
    • At the February meeting, members will be asked to vote on a constitutional amendment to increase board membership to include the Outreach Chair and the Observatory Chair.
  • Outreach
    • Recent experiences with the Mallincam have shown the benefits of what we’ve taken to calling Electronically Assisted Astronomy (EAA). Rex proposed and members were agreeable to making additional purchases to enhance our EAA capabilities. Right now, the leading candidate is the UltraStar, and members are encouraged to conduct research and contribute opinions before a final selection is made.
    • Members discussed strategies for increasing membership, and especially for recruiting younger members to reverse the direction of our skewed demographic. John Miller suggested we need to put more effort into publicizing club activities and  capabilities to schools, newspapers, social media, community organizations, and the general public.
  • Observatory
    • Observatory Chair Dave Skitt is investigating options for motorizing the Washington Crossing observatory’s roll-off roof, a nod to the skewed demographic mentioned above.
    • Bill Murray presented an invitation to join NASA’s All-Sky Fireball Network, which involves mounting a NASA-owned camera on the observatory to observe bright meteors. The camera requires uninterrupted power and a moderately fast internet connection. After a short discussion, members agreed that hosting a camera is desirable. Bill Murray, Rex Parker, and Michael Mitrano agreed to pursue the application process.
    • Dave and Jenn Skitt and Tom Swords have removed the focuser (a formidable brass object) from the Hastings-Byrne refractor. Tom is refurbishing it (gently) for better optical alignment.


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