From the Program Chair

By Victor Davis

The February, 2022 meeting of the AAAP will take place (virtually) on Tuesday, February 8th at 7:30 PM. (See How to Join the February 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 to chat informally with others who log in early. We will not be using the “waiting room;” participants will enter the meeting as soon as they log in. However, you will enter the meeting space with your microphone muted. This will help to remedy some of the background noise we experienced during some previous meetings. Please be aware you must unmute yourself to be heard by other participants.

For the Q&A session, you may ask your question using Zoom’s chat feature or you 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?
Pre-meeting informal chattingStart All on MuteYes
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 by Surabhi AgarwalStart All on MuteNo
Business MeetingStart All on MuteYes
Director’s closing remarks/Informal chattingNoNo
Only the Business part of the meeting will be locked.


Featured Speaker:  Dr. Christopher Spalding, 51 Pegasi b Postdoctoral Fellow in Princeton University’s Department of Astrophysical Sciences. (

Upside-down, Inside-out Solar Systems The planets of our Solar System follow orbits that resemble concentric circles, with the Sun spinning in the same direction as the planets orbit. This “clockwork” picture filled textbooks and research papers alike for centuries. But the past decade of exploring exoplanets has revealed a puzzle: Many of them seem to orbit “backwards”–opposite to the spin direction of their host stars. How could this be? Moreover, these worlds usually exist 10 times closer to their stars than Mercury does to the Sun. Clearly, something very different led to the creation of these “upside-down, inside-out” systems as compared to our Solar System. In this talk, Dr. Spalding describes the weird and wonderful properties of these alien worlds and discusses what they are teaching us about the origin of our own planet Earth.

Christopher Spalding earned his BA and MSci degrees from Cambridge University with first class honors, and his PhD in Planetary Science from Caltech. He has won numerous honors and awards, including the Ray Duncombe Prize for Dynamical Astronomy, a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship (NESSF) Graduate Fellowship in Earth and Planetary Science, a 51 Pegasi b Postdoctoral Fellowship, and most recently, and closer to home, a Lyman Spitzer Jr. Postdoctoral Fellowship. Dr. Spalding’s primary research seeks to understand planet formation by way of simple theoretical descriptions of planetary dynamics. He enjoys applying simplified mathematical methods to extract important lessons from problems spanning planetary system formation and architectures, Earth’s long-term habitability, extinction dynamics, and more. He’s active in science education and outreach as a teacher, guest lecturer, and colloquium organizer.

51 Pegasi b is the first planet discovered orbiting a Sun-like star, discovered in October 1995. This gas giant is about half the mass but half again larger than Jupiter, and orbits its star in 4 days. It fits the description “hot Jupiter” typical of the first exoplanets, which were discovered using radial velocity measurements of their host stars.  The 51 Pegasi b Fellowship “provides an opportunity for promising recent doctoral scientists to conduct novel theoretical, experimental, or observational research in planetary astronomy.”

AAAP webcast:  This month’s AAAP meeting, beginning with Rex’s opening remarks and ending at the beginning of 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: Amateur Astronomers Association of Princeton, January 11, 2022 Meeting, 7:30 PM EST

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 February 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.

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.

Link to join February’s Zoom Meeting
Amateur Astronomers Association of Princeton is inviting you join our February monthly meeting.

Topic: “Upside-down, Inside-out Solar Systems” by Dr. Christopher Spalding

Time: Feb 8, 2022 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 830 648 1587

Passcode: 747319

“Unjournal Club”

Following the post-presentation bio-break, Surabhi Agarwal will describe her experiences as a citizen advocate for remedying light pollution. Inspired by Rex’s community activism against light pollution, Surabhi will report on her efforts to fight light pollution in her own community, and encourage the rest of us to do the same.

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 other club members. If you are interested in presenting a topic of interest, please contact either or

A look ahead at future guest speakers:

March 8, 2022Rosanne Di Stefano, of the Center for Astrophysics/Harvard and Smithsonian, led a team who used the Chandra X-ray observatory to search for brightness dips in X-ray binaries. They may have detected a transiting exoplanet in the spiral galaxy M51. To date, all exoplanet candidates (4,000+ and counting) have been discovered within 3,000 light-years of Earth. An exoplanet in M51, 28 million light-years away, would be thousands of times farther away than those in the Milky Way.
April 12, 2022Paul Daniels, FRAS, an active participant in the Royal Astronomical Society’s Megaconstellation Working Group, will discuss the serious threats to professional and amateur astronomy posed by launching thousands (potentially 100K+) of reflective objects into low Earth orbit.
May 10, 2022TBA
June 14, 2022Bill Murray, AAAP Outreach Chair and astronomer at the New Jersey State Museum will once again (following a Covid hiatus) give club members a private sky tour at the museum’s planetarium. He’ll show off the refurbished planetarium’s state-of-the-art Digital Sky 2 8K projection system. This is an opportunity to put aside Zooming and commiserate with astro-buddies in the real world.

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 February 2022, Sidereal Times and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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