From the Program Director

by Ira Polans

The November meeting will be held on the 10th at 7:30 PM. (See Joining the Meeting with Zoom below for details). This meeting is open to AAAP members and the general public. Due to the number of possible attendees, we will use the Waiting Room. This means when you login into Zoom you will not be taken directly to the meeting. The waiting room will be opened at 7:00 PM. Prior to the meeting start time (7:30 PM) you may socialize with others in the waiting room. The meeting room has a capacity of 100 people.

For the Q&A session, you may ask your question using chat or may unmute yourself and ask your question directly to the speaker. To address background noise issues, we are going to follow the rules in the table below regarding audio. If you are not speaking, please remember to mute yourself. You are encouraged, but not required to turn your video on.

Meeting Event Participant Can Speak? Participant Can Self-Unmute?
Rex’ General Remarks Yes Yes
Ira’s  Speaker Introduction Yes Yes
Speaker Presentation No No
Q&A Session Start All on Mute Yes
Business Meeting Start All on Mute Yes

Only the Business part of the meeting will be locked.

Featured Speaker: Amateur astronomer Nick Kanas, MD will give a talk on Celestial Mapping and the Modern Amateur Astronomer. The history of celestial cartography has evolved into several pathways that have relevance for today’s amateur astronomer. Ancient views of the sky had star mapping traditions that used both a geocentric orientation (where the stars and constellations were pictured as they were seen from the Earth) and an external orientation (where they were right to left reversed as seen from the outside of a celestial globe carved in marble). The development of the telescope favored a geocentric view, as well as a switch in the celestial grid from a longitude/latitude perspective to one that spoke about right ascension/declination. Many ancient books included volvelles, analog computers on paper that attempted to reproduce some of the features of 3-dimensional astrolabes on 2-dimensional pages in a book. These led to our modern planispheres. Early atlases pictured beautiful images of mythological and scientific figures in over 100 constellations, but these were reduced in number by an international society to 88 constellation areas of the sky, with increasingly fading then non-existent constellation images (but whose line drawings persist in modern astronomy magazines). Dr. Kanas will trace the history of these and other developments that we take for granted as amateur astronomers.

Speaker’s Biography: Nick Kanas has been a member of the SFAA since 1977, serving as a Board member in the early 1980s. He has been an amateur astronomer since childhood. He is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society (London). He has collected antiquarian celestial maps for over 40 years and has given talks on celestial cartography to amateur and professional groups, including the Adler Planetarium; the Lick Observatory; the California Academy of Sciences; and annual meetings of the International Conference on the History of Cartography, the Society for the History of Astronomy, and the Flamsteed Astronomical Society in Greenwich, U.K. He has published articles on celestial cartography in magazines and journals, such as Sky and Telescope, Imago Mundi, and the Journal of the International Map Collectors Society. He has written two celestial map-related books: Solar System Maps: From Antiquity to the Space Age, and Star Maps: History, Artistry, and Cartography, the 3rd edition of which was published in 2019. He also has published three science fiction novels. As a UCSF Professor of Psychiatry, he was a NASA-funded Principal Investigator studying psychosocial issues involving astronauts and cosmonauts in space. He is the co-author of the textbook Space Psychology and Psychiatry (now in its 2nd edition), and more recently the author of Humans in Space: The Psychological Hurdles. Both books were award Life Science Book Awards from the International Academy of Astronautics.

Using Zoom: While we are, social distancing the AAAP Board has chosen to use Zoom for our meetings, based our belief that many members have already have used Zoom and its ease of learning. One of its great features is you can choose whether you want to install the software on your computer or use it within your browser.

How to Join the November Meeting: For the meeting, we are going to follow a simple two-step process:

  1. Please make sure you have Zoom installed on your computer. You do not need a Zoom account or need to create one to join the meeting. Nor are you required to use a webcam.
  2. Please visit our website for the link to the meeting

NOTE: We plan to open the meeting site 30 minutes to the 7:30 start time. This way you won’t have to rush to join the meeting. A maximum of 100 attendees can join the meeting.

More Information: The Zoom site has many training videos most are for people who are hosting a meeting. If you’re unsure how Zoom works you might want to view the videos on how to join a meeting or how to check your computer’s audio and video before the meeting.

Journal Club Presentation: Rafael C. Caruso will present on Sir Arthur Eddington’s observations of the 1919 solar eclipse, which supported the predictions of the general theory of relativity. His presentation is based on a chapter from the book Gravity’s Century: From Einstein’s Eclipse to Images of Black Holes by Ron Cowen (Harvard University Press, 2019).

We are looking for other members to give a Journal Club Presentation. If interested, please contact either or

Program Chair: As announced at the October meeting I am resigning as Program Chair effective December 31, 2020. When I started, I figured I would do the job for a year or two. I ended up serving for 5 plus years. Now I think it is time for somebody else to take on this role. If you’re thinking about becoming the Program Chair, you have the unique opportunity to test drive the role for 3-4 months before deciding if you want to continue on for a full-term. As Program Chair, under our by-laws, you can establish a Program Committee to help choose topics and speakers so you don’t have to go it on your own. The committee could decide to rotate the formal position of Program Chair among its members from year-to-year. This way no one is making a long-term commitment.

As Program Chair you will have the final word on the topics you, think the club will be interested in hearing or learning about with the support of the Program Committee. You also will have the opportunity to interact with professional astronomers and authors as you fill the schedule. While serving as Program Chair I learned that most astronomers are very happy to give a talk to our club. The fact that the Princeton University Astrophysics department hosts us is a draw to potential speakers.

In addition, we have a ready-made pool of speakers in the area. This includes Princeton, Philadelphia, New York, and Eastern Pennsylvania. We also have Zoom. This means that potential speakers don’t have to travel to NJ to give their talks. This month’s featured speaker will be giving his talk from California. While I will not be scheduling speakers past December, I’ve offered to help with the transition and provide advice to the new Program Chair. As of next year, I will be a regular member of the AAAP. To keep things on track, ideally somebody will step up at our November club meeting to be the next Program Chair.

This entry was posted in November 2020, Sidereal Times and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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