From the Program Chair

By Victor Davis

The June 14, 2022 meeting of the AAAP will be an experiment combining in-person and virtual elements into a hybrid meeting.  The intention is to meet the needs of members eager to resume commiserating in person and also those who, due to inconvenience or Covid risk, choose to continue to participate virtually via Zoom. The club’s longstanding tradition is to have the final meeting of the academic year at the planetarium of the New Jersey State Museum, hosted by AAAP’s current Outreach Chair, Bill Murray. The planetarium is located at 205 West State Street, Trenton, NJ. There is ample parking behind the museum.

Unlike recent Zoom-only meetings, there will be no informal online chatting before the meeting starts promptly at 7:30 pm. In-person attendees will have the opportunity to socialize outside the planetarium building before the meeting starts. AAAP cannot access the planetarium prior to 7:00 pm, and Rex Parker, Bill Murray, and Dave Skitt will be setting up local and webcasting gear before the meeting begins.

The agenda for the meeting will be slightly different than the structure we’ve used for the past two years:

Masking

There is no masking requirement to attend this indoor, in-person meeting on premises owned by the State of New Jersey. Members who are immuno-compromized, senior citizens, or wary of respiring in close proximity to potentially infectious individuals may want to consider wearing a mask while inside the planetarium.

BillMurrayFeatured Speaker: William Murray,  Lecturer and Planetarium Technician, New Jersey State Planetarium, 

Outreach Chair, Amateur Astronomers Association of Princeton

( strgazr1@verizon.net )

“Touch the Stars”   This full-dome planetarium show dramatically showcases the robotic spacecraft used in the exploration of our Solar System and the galaxy beyond. The presentation traces the timeline to space through the history of NASA’s probes, orbiters, and landers—from the heart of our Solar System and the surfaces of its planets and moons to the grand tour of the Voyager spacecraft through the outer planets and on to interstellar space. Created with the cooperation of NASA and Lockheed Martin, “Touch the Stars” uses the latest high definition imagery, 3D vistas, and scientific data to transport the audience on a memorable voyage of discovery.

Bill will put the Planetarium’s new ultra-high resolution 8K digital video projection system through its paces for this main presentation. Unfortunately, due to copyright restrictions and the practical limitations of trying to image a planetarium dome through Zoom, virtual participants will see only a 1 ½ minute trailer of the film before the virtual meeting concludes.

A Bit About Bill Murray An amateur astronomer for more than 50 years, Bill Murray has been employed as a software engineer, physics and mathematics teacher and is currently planetarium technician and lecturer at the New Jersey State Planetarium in Trenton. He has owned more than a dozen different telescopes and is a past observatory chair, secretary, program chair, assistant director and director of the Amateur Astronomers Association of Princeton. His current position in the club is outreach chair. He observes the night skies, and dabbles in EAA, with a 130 mm Astro-Physics APO refractor from his backyard observatory.

If you choose to participate in the June meeting via Zoom:

  • Please make sure you have Zoom installed on your computer. You do not need a Zoom account or to create one to join the meeting. Nor are you required to use a webcam.
  • Please see below for the link to the meeting, or visit our website

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 June 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 program@princetonastronomy.org if you have any concerns.

YouTube Link: Amateur Astronomers Association of Princeton, April 12, 2022 Meeting, 7:30 PM EST

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.

Megaconstellation Webinar

In April, Dr. Paul Daniels spoke to our club on the Megaconstellation threat. He and his organization, the Federation of Astronomical Societies in the UK, hosted a webinar on 7th and 8th of May entitled, “The Challenge of Megaconstellations.” The aim of the webinar was to allow professional space operators and astronomers to explain to interested amateurs and researchers the many challenges posed by satellite megaconstellations. The event was very successful. An edited version is available online at:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnmaTudqwjs9k7Gr-_WhUzw

The webinar is also available via the Federation of Astronomical Societies’ website fedastro.org.uk.

Manhattanhenge

For many of us, New York City is a magical place. It becomes a bit more magical twice a year, when Manhattan’s rectangular street grid aligns precisely with the setting Sun, creating a radiant glow of light at the end of Manhattan’s canyons of glass and steel. During these days, the Sun simultaneously illuminates buildings on both the north and south sides of every cross street of the borough’s grid. It’s a rare and beautiful sight, though drivers in cross-town traffic may be less concerned with its beauty than with pedestrians stopping in the middle of crosswalks to snap selfies.

Manhattanhenge takes place this year on May 29 and May 30, (sorry we missed it) and also on July 11 and 12. On Monday, July 11 at 8:20 pm ET, the full Sun will be setting over the Hudson River. On Tuesday, July 12, at 8:21 ET, half the Sun’s disk will meet the grid at sunset. These dates are spaced roughly equal time spans around the summer solstice. These dates work because Manhattan’s street grid is rotated 30 degrees east of geographic north. Had the streets been oriented north-south, Manhattanhenge would coincide with the equinoxes. The website of the American Museum of Natural History recommends that viewers find a spot as far east as possible that still has views of New Jersey across the Hudson River, and suggests vantage points at Manhattan’s main east/west thoroughfares:

  • 14th Street
  • 23rd Street
  • 34th Street
  • 42nd Street
  • 57th Street
  • Tudor City Overpass, Manhattan
  • Hunter’s Point South Park in Long Island City, Queens

Science popularizer Neil deGrasse Tyson invented the word “Manhattanhenge” to tie the artifacts of our modern civilization to humankind’s quest to understand the workings of the cosmos. He wonders what future archeologists might conclude from the fact that we engineered our city streets to revere sunsets on Memorial Day and Baseball’s All Star break.

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

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