From the Director




by Rex Parker, Phd

New Season Begins Sept 11. AAAP will resume regular monthly meetings on Tuesday Sept 11 (7:30 pm) at Peyton Hall, home of Princeton University Dept of Astrophysical Sciences. Several new members have joined this summer, and so I extend a starry welcome to you along with the rest as our ranks approach 100-strong heading into the season. Oh and lest we forget, dues ($40) for the full year are renewable each October. Thanks to webmaster Surabhi, you can now renew on-line; go to As an added benefit, see the exciting news below about access to amateur affiliate status in the American Astronomical Society.

The parade of planets this summer put Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars on display in the best sky positions we’ve had for years. But unfortunately the Mars opposition didn’t turn out so well, with the Martian planet-wide dust storm obscuring telescopic details and only now beginning to settle down. The rare new-moon-coinciding Perseid meteor shower was a bust as well, unless you were fortunate enough to find clear skies elsewhere in mid-August (not just Jersey, I was clouded out at Acadia National Park in Maine). It’s too soon to give up on Mars just yet though, and I urge you to head out to AAAP’s Washington Crossing Observatory in September while it’s still close to opposition. Mars will be 20 arc-sec in diameter on Sept 5 and drop below 16 at month’s end (at opposition it was a little over 24).

Observatory public Friday nights this summer have been enthusiastically attended by hundreds of folks from around the region, with some of the best turnouts we’ve seen in recent years. The new equipment has performed well and Keyholders have learned the new cameras and software which enables deeper more detailed views than glass eyepieces can deliver. Not to say that direct eyepiece viewing is outmoded, not by a long-shot, especially with the premium Televue oculars we have in the facility. I would like to express a big THANKS to the Keyholders and Observatory and Outreach Chairs, who have put in a lot of dedicated and informative hours at the observatory to drive successful public outreach this summer.

Exciting Development! – Amateur Affiliate Membership in the American Astronomical Society (AAS) for AAAP Members. If you’re ready to participate in science outreach and education at a deeper level, if you’ve wondered how you could access serious astronomy and astrophysics journals, now you can! We have arranged for AAAP members to become amateur affiliate mmembers of AAS — without needing to join a national organization such as AAVSO first as has generally been required. The amateur affiliate membership gives full access to their professional science journals and web-based astronomy tools such as the AAS WorldWide Telescope web client. It includes the journals listed below and other benefits such as meeting attendance, at an annual cost of $52 membership plus $25 journal access. To join, go to and follow the membership tab links, and using the pdf form-fill software that pops up, enter Amateur Astronomers Association of Princeton as your amateur affiliation.

The American Astronomical Society is the major astronomy professional organization in North America. Founded in 1899, its membership of ~7,000 includes astronomers, physicists, mathematicians, geologists, engineers, and others whose interests are in the broad spectrum of astronomy. The AAS seeks to increase public support for scientific research, improve science education at all levels, steer young people to careers in science and technology, and make evident the connections between science, technology, and prosperity. AAS publications include: Astronomical Journal (AJ), Astrophysical Journal (ApJ), Astrophysical Journal Letters (ApJL), Astrophysical Journal Supplements (ApJS), Research Notes of the AAS.

Jersey StarQuest (Oct 5-6, 2018). The 27th StarQuest event sponsored by our club once again will feature Electronic-Assisted Astronomy (EAA) live on the observing field. EAA is the emerging technique of using a digital imaging device in lieu of an eyepiece at the telescope for near-real-time viewing (distinct from long-exposure deep sky astrophotography). Several EAA equipment setups will be available for you to see and learn at StarQuest, as well as eyepiece-based systems. Weather-permitting, telescopes will be running all night giving you a chance to learn from experienced members even if you don’t yet own a telescope. See the announcement below for more info. We’re requesting that you return an intent-to-participate form (in the flier sent by e-mail to all members, and on the website) but no advance payment is needed, pay upon arrival.

Once again we’ll be hosting the Jersey StarQuest astronomy weekend at the Hope Conference and Renewal Center in north Jersey . This is a fun, educational, and inspiring observing-oriented event for both Friday and Saturday nights at one of the best relatively dark sky locations in the state. The Hope Center is located just north of I-80 a few miles north of Jenny Jump forest, and offers clean bunkhouse accommodations or camping on-site, and a kitchen for cooking if desired. Restaurants are within a few minutes’ drive. If you’re experienced or just beginning, a new member or veteran, even if you don’t own a telescope, here’s your chance to learn hands-on about astronomy and observing.

  • Walk-in registration, no advance payment or pre-registration needed. You can decide to attend at the last minute. We will ask that you send in a non-binding intent-to-participate form to help estimate needs for Hope Center.
  • AAAP member-oriented event, a chance to make friends in the club. You’re encouraged to invite family and friends who may not yet be members.
  • Low costs. The club subsidizes the costs, we do not make money on the event but the more people attend the better the economics for the club.
  • No meals provided. You should bring your own food and plates or plan on restaurants ~15 min away. The Hope Center’s clean, well equipped kitchen is available.
  • Hot and cold drinks and snacks, esp. coffee will be provided.
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