From the Program Chair

By Victor Davis

The November 2021 meeting of the AAAP will take place (virtually) on Tuesday, November 9th at 7:30 PM. (See How to Join the November Meeting below for details). This meeting is open to AAAP members and the general public. Participants will be able to log in to the meeting as early as 7:00 pm, and will be able to chat informally with others who log in early. In previous Zoom meetings, people joining the meeting before 7:30 pm were queued into the “waiting room.” Since the waiting room does not permit hobnobbing among participants, the host will now open access to the meeting as soon as participants log in. This means that when you log in to Zoom you join the meeting directly, unmuted. Please be mindful of your mute/unmute status and mute yourself before the meeting starts promptly at 7:30 pm.

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 EventParticipant Can Speak?Participant Can Self-Unmute?
Director Rex’s General RemarksYesYes
Program Chair Victor’s  Speaker IntroductionYesYes
Speaker PresentationNoNo
Q&A SessionStart All on MuteYes                                    
5-minute bio breakYesYes
Journal Club presentation (none scheduled)Start All on MuteNo
Business MeetingStart All on MuteYes
Director’s closing remarksNoNo
Only the Business part of the meeting will be locked.

Featured Speaker:  Dr. Jesus (Jesse) Rivera is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Astronomy at Swarthmore College. His presentation is entitled, “Beyond the Visible Universe.”

Since the earliest days of astronomy, scientists have explored the Universe through visible wavelengths, and we’ve gained enormous insights through this window into space. But much of the Universe is dim or invisible at these wavelengths, so to form a fuller picture of what is out there, we need to study more than visible light alone. In this talk, Prof. Rivera will give an overview of the field of radio astronomy, including the types of information we gather from observing the sky at radio wavelengths, and how radio telescopes differ from their more common optical counterparts. From there, he will discuss his specific area of research and how he uses a combination of telescopes to study gravitationally lensed, dusty star-forming galaxies as a means of probing galaxy formation and evolution.


Dr. Rivera attended The University of Texas at Brownsville, where he worked on the detection of gravitational waves using pulsars. He earned his Masters degree and PhD in astrophysics from Rutgers, researching dusty star-forming galaxies with Dr. Andrew Baker. He is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Astronomy at Swarthmore College, where he is also a Consortium for Faculty Diversity Postdoctoral Fellow.

Prof. Rivera is an avid amateur astronomer and is active in outreach activities; conducting physics demonstrations in elementary schools, promoting graduate studies to high school and community college students, and organizing initiatives to communicate science and astronomy to the general public. He’s also interested in influencing science policy, participating in AAS activities aimed at engaging with policymakers to make them aware of the needs of the scientific community.

AAAP webcast:  This month’s AAAP meeting, beginning with Rex’s opening remarks and ending at the break before the business meeting, will be webcast live on YouTube and recorded for subsequent public access on AAAP’s YouTube channel. Be aware that your interactions during this segment, including questions to our guest speaker, may be recorded for posterity. 

YouTube Link: Jesse Rivera: Radio astronomy – Researching Dusty Star-Forming Galaxies (DSFGs)

This session will be recorded and saved on YouTube. Send me an email at if you have any concerns. 

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 Zoom link.
  3. This session will be recorded and saved on YouTube. Send me an email at if you have any concerns.

NOTE: The Zoom site has many training videos. 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.

WANTED: Members with interesting stories to tell. During the past months, we’ve enjoyed interesting and informative talks from AAAP members, and we’d like to keep the momentum going! We hope to make these short presentations a regular feature of our monthly meetings. We’d like to know what members are doing or what members are thinking about in the broad range of topics encompassed by astronomy. A brief ten-minute (or so) presentation is a good way to introduce yourself and the topics you care about to the club membership. If you are interested in presenting a topic of interest, please contact either or

Finishing the Hat. Beginning this past September, in lieu of a free meal at a local eatery, guest speakers are each receiving a AAAP baseball cap to thank them for presenting to us. Yes, there’s now AAAP swag!

A look ahead at future hat recipients::

December 14, 2021       Joleen Carlberg will talk about her work as a Support Scientist on the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) team.

January 11, 2022           Robert Williams, former director of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STSci),  will talk about his controversial and courageous decision to commit about 100 hours of time on the HST to staring at what was at the time considered to be a relatively bare patch of sky, creating what is now known as the Hubble Deep Field.

February 8, 2022           Chris Spalding a 51 Pegasi b postdoctoral fellow in astronomy at Princeton University,  will talk about his research to understand planet formation by way of simple theoretical  descriptions of planetary dynamics.

Thanks to Bill Thomas, Ira Polans, and Dave Skitt for their valuable advice and assistance.

As always, your comments and suggestions are gratefully accepted.


This entry was posted in November 2021, October 2021, Sidereal Times and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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