by Gene Allen, Secretary
The meeting was convened on Zoom by Director Dr. Rex Parker at 1930 with the agenda for the evening. Officers also in attendance were Treasurer Michel Mitrano, Program Chair Victor Davis, Outreach Chair Bill Murray, Observatory Co-Chairs Dave & Jen Skitt, and Secretary Gene Allen. Members attending were Sidereal Times Editor Surabhi Jan-Agarwal, John Church, Ira Polans, Rich Sherman, and via email submissions, Debbie Mayes.
The University is continuing to be closed to us as outsiders due to Covid for the spring but there may be a chance to return in the fall. However, substantial impending construction on campus will remote all Peyton Hall parking, further threatening its suitability for us.
The Institute for Advanced Studies has more than adequate facilities for our use and members Lee Sandberg (current IAS Public Communication Liaison) and Bob Vanderbei (former scholar) both support and will present our request to the incoming new director.
We are also investigating the possibility of meeting in the NJ State Museum Planetarium.
Because of our forced transition to Zoom meetings, we have acquired some members too remote to ever attend in person. We anticipate the need to develop a hybrid meeting format which includes a video component even when we can once again meet in person.
Social Media & Meeting Recordings
Confusion remains about the credentials needed to rework our Facebook pages. Member Debbie Mayes is digging into it, with support and assistance from members Dave Skitt, Jim Poinsett, Bill Murray, and John Miller. Either we gain access, or we have to start over.
Assimilating New Members
Some new members jump right in but others hang back, intimidated by the apparent expertise of some of our members or just bewildered at where to start. It has been worse since the Zoom meetings but was not easy before.
We can try to develop Discord as a forum through which to ask questions and request help. Adding another channel could be confusing, but a New Members channel might be helpful.
NSN can offer members a way to contact other members.
We could develop a Welcoming Committee and schedule a Meet & Greet event, if we had a venue
We could schedule a Bring Your Scope to the Observatory Field for Help event.
At present there is no one tasked with or focused on member engagement.
Night Sky Network
Rex has been encouraging members to register as AAAP members on NSN, and there has been a surge in new registrations. We need some members to learn more about what NSN offers and develop our participation there. If we could make the NSN Membership Roster work in place of our own, it would offer 3 advantages:
– Members would maintain their own contact information
– Members could choose to contact each other
– All Board members could be listed as Coordinators so as to access or download the current Roster whenever needed
Gene is looking into the feasibility of this alternative.
Observatory and Outreach Public Policy
While we all feel as if relaxation of Covid protocols is imminent, nothing has yet changed. For the present time, we will continue with the limitations imposed last year on activity at the observatory. Outreach will continue to be limited to hosting at the observatory.
Observatory Maintenance & Equipment
A number of Keyholders have declined to continue in that capacity. There are a few in training but it was decided to reduce the number of teams from 6 to 5. That increases the frequency of duty but keeps the team staffing level more reasonable. A suggestion to drop Full Moon nights from the schedule was rather strongly opposed as too confusing. It was reported that visitor attendance at the Planetarium is 3-4 times higher that it was before Covid.
The water line that froze and ruptured in the bathroom due to a leaking supply valve in the Nature Center has been repaired, hopefully in such a way that precludes future failures, whether or not park maintenance fixes the problem.
The leak soaked the carpeting, which was removed and discarded. The Board approved hiring professional installation of replacement carpet. We will seek someone with experience or interest to coordinate the professional installation. Concern was expressed about replacing the carpet before the park fixes the leaking valve. We told that the park may never fix it and were assured that a leak would not reach the carpet again.
Once again it was repeated that all state requirements have been met and we are awaiting their approval of our project to replace the deteriorating piers.
The Ultrastar camera has been installed on the Explore Scientific refractor once more.
There was some discussion about managing Zoom meetings, that one can mute all or not, and putting “spotlight” on the guest speaker avoids attendees unmuting and popping up on the screen.