From the Program Chair

By Victor Davis

The May 2022 meeting of the AAAP will take place (virtually) on Tuesday, May 10th at 7:30 PM. (See How to Join the May 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.

“Reality favors symmetry.” Jorge Luis Borges

It’s worth noting, as club member Ira Polans pointed out to me, that this month’s speaker Bob Vanderbei was the first guest speaker to address the club virtually via Zoom after Covid-19 chased us out of Peyton Hall. Two years later, it may be (yes, I’m saying it out loud) that he may be the last wholly-virtual presenter. Next fall, in-person meetings may resume in an as-yet-undetermined venue. 


Featured Speaker: Robert J. Vanderbei Professor, Operations Research and Financial Engineering, Princeton University (

Welcome to the Universe in 3D Prof. Vanderbei will discuss his recently published book of this title he co-authored with J. Richard Gott, Michael Strauss (both also at Princeton) and Neil deGrasse Tyson, Director of NYC’s Hayden Planetarium. His book depicts in 3D the things we see in the night sky, from planets and moons to nearby stars and out to nebulae, galaxies, and beyond. In this talk, Prof. Vanderbei will show some of the stereoscopic pictures from the book, and describe the various methods he used to make these stereoscopic pairs of images give an accurate 3D rendition of how things really are.

Vanderbei-book1 Vanderbei-book2

A bit about Prof. Bob

A native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Vanderbei earned his BS in Chemistry and MS in Operations Research and Statistics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). He completed his PhD in Applied Mathematics at Cornell in 1981. In his thesis, he developed probabilistic potential theory for random fields consisting of tensor products of Brownian motions. He was awarded an NSF postdoctoral research fellowship to pursue his interest in probability theory at NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. Following his fellowship, he moved to the Mathematics department at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. A few years later, Vanderbei left academia for a job at Bell Labs, where he made fundamental contributions to the field of optimization and holds three patents for his enhancements to a new class of algorithms for linear programming.

In 1990, Vanderbei returned to academia to teach at Princeton University. He is a Professor in the Department of Operations Research and Financial Engineering, and chaired the department from 2005 to 2012. He also holds courtesy appointments to Princeton’s departments of Mathematics, Astrophysics, Computer Science, and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Vanderbei holds leadership positions in many professional organizations and is the 2017 winner of the Khachiyan Prize for his work in optimization.

In addition to hundreds of research papers, Vanderbei has written two widely adopted textbooks, a popular software package, and two popular-level books. Sizing up the Universe is an introductory astronomy book written jointly with J. Richard Gott and published by National Geographic in 2011. Welcome to the Universe in 3D was published just this April by Princeton University Press.

Vanderbei was an active glider pilot and flight instructor for many years. In 1999, a colleague enticed him to move his sights a bit higher by taking him to a star party hosted by AAAP. Vanderbei quickly transitioned from visual observing to astrophotography, and regularly posts new astroimages on his website

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 May 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

Upcoming Webinar

Last month, Dr. Paul Daniels spoke to our club on the Megaconstellation threat. He and his organization, Federation of Astronomical Societies in the UK, are hosting a free, two-day international Zoom webinar on May 7th and 8th, before our next meeting but hopefully after you’ve perused this newsletter. The aim of the webinar is for professional space operators and astronomers to explain the many challenges posed by satellite megaconstellations and future policy prospects for mitigating their adverse effects on the environment.

Dr. Daniels has sent along a brochure in PDF format that gives more information on the goals of the webinar, its roster of speakers, and details of how to register. The file is also posted on our website.

A look ahead at future guest speakers:

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 all that you do. Special thanks this month to Bob Vanderbei, who so quickly and gracefully became this month’s guest speaker.

As always, members’ comments and suggestions are gratefully accepted and much appreciated.

This entry was posted in May 2022, Sidereal Times and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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