From the Program Chair

By Victor Davis

The April, 2022 meeting of the AAAP will take place (virtually) on Tuesday, April 12th at 7:30 PM. (See How to Join the April 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 Event~TimeParticipant Can Speak?Participant Can Self-Unmute?
Pre-meeting informal chatting7:00 – 7:30Start All on MuteYes
Director Rex’s General Remarks7:30 – 7:40YesYes
Program Chair Victor’s  Speaker Introduction7:40 – 7:45YesYes
Speaker Presentation7:45 – 8:45NoNo
Q&A Session8:45 – 9:00Start All on MuteYes                                    
5-minute bio break9:00 – 9:05YesYes
“Unjournal Club” – No presentation scheduledN/AStart All on MuteNo
Business Meeting9:05 – 9:50Start All on MuteYes
Director’s closing remarks/Informal chatting9:50 – 10:00NoNo
Only the Business part of the meeting will be locked.


Featured Speaker: Dr. Paul Daniels, FRAS President, Federation of Astronomical Societies  (

The Mega-Constellation Threat  The plummeting cost of launching small satellites has led to several companies having ambitions to place tens of thousands of them (potentially 100,000+) into low Earth orbit over the next few decades. The growing threat is driven by economics and the growing desire for low-latency, high-bandwidth global internet service.  Dr. Daniels, a leader in the Royal Astronomical Society’s Megaconstellation Working Group (Optical) will discuss the serious threats to professional and amateur astronomy posed by the projected astronomical growth of these reflective and emissive objects:

  • The pollution of the sky at optical and radio wavelengths has the potential to end almost all professional ground-based astronomy over the next two decades, seriously hamper amateur astronomers’ contributions to astronomy and their enjoyment of the night sky and contamination of the pristine natural sky that is the birth right of all the people of the world and which has inspired young and old for generations.
  • The vastly increased number of objects in Earth orbit will lead to a rapid growth in space debris that could endanger the lives of astronauts, damage existing satellites and, in worst case, potentially deny humanity access to space for any purpose for decades.
  • The lower cost of getting to space makes it, the Moon and asteroids prime targets for the next era of commercial exploitation. The rush to occupy large volumes of near-Earth space by powerful companies, backed by powerful military nations, is likely to raise international tensions.

Dr. Paul Daniels’ interest in astronomy began in the days of the Apollo missions stargazing through a friend’s 4” Newtonian and watching for meteors in the garden. He became fascinated with ephemerides he read in the BAA Handbook and how such events were calculated. He went on to graduate from Queen Mary College, London University with a degree in Astrophysics, where, as an undergraduate, he served as the college astrophysical society’s Secretary and Chairman.

He earned his PhD from Sheffield University, studying aspects of dust particle accretion and the structure and evolution of comets. At the Max Planck Research Institute, he developed prototype software for the satellite X-ray telescope ROSAT before moving on to a career in the computing industry, and eventually worked for 30 years as a freelance IT contractor.

Dr. Daniels joined the Guildford Astronomical Society in 2000 to renew his interest in astronomy, and was the club’s president between 2012 and 2018. He remains an active member. He’s a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, and served on its council for several years, recently as Vice-President of Astronomy. He currently serves on their International and Education and Outreach committees and chairs their IT Working Group. He is an active participant in the RAS’ Megaconstellation Working Group (Optical) and has contributed to conferences and workshops seeking to raise awareness of this growing threat. Dr. Daniels is currently the President of the UK’s Federation of Astronomical Societies, a group of 200 member organizations representing 12,000 amateur astronomers in the United Kingdom.

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, April 12, 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 April 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.

“Unjournal Club”

There is no “Unjournal Club” presentation scheduled this month. As you may know, guest speakers receive a baseball cap with the AAAP logo embroidered upon it as a “thank you” for making a presentation to us. We’re expanding the hat giveaway to members who contribute an “Unjournal Club” presentation to encourage participation.

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:

May 10, 2022Kenneth Chang, science writer for the New York Times who describes his beat as “chemistry, geology, solid state physics, nanotechnology, Pluto, plague and other scientific miscellany” also writes frequently on space missions and astronomy. He has not yet decided on a title or topic for his presentation.
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 AAAP members in the real world.
July – August, 2022There will be no monthly meetings of AAAP during the academic hiatus of July and August, though the observatory (and public observing every clear Friday night) will be operating. There are not yet guest speakers confirmed for post-summer – and hopefully post-pandemic – meetings. It is not known whether we’ll have the option to meet corporeally, though we intend to include a Zoom component for the foreseeable future.

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

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