From the Program Chair

By Victor Davis

Welcome Back to Peyton Hall!

The November 2022 meeting of the AAAP will take place IN PERSON on Tuesday, November 8th at 7:30 PM. As usual, the meeting is open to AAAP members and the public.

Hybrid Meeting

You may choose to attend the meeting in person or participate via Zoom or YouTube as we’ve been doing for the past few years. (See How to Participate below for details). Participants who choose to participate virtually 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’ve had some security concerns during a past broadcast, so we are re-instituting the Zoom waiting room. Please be patient for the host to recognize you and grant you entry into the meeting. Be aware that 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 – 7:40Start All on MuteYes
Program Chair Victor’s Speaker Introduction7:40 – 7:45Start All on MuteYes
Speaker Presentation: Prof. Michael Strauss The First Black Holes in the Universe: Searching for the Highest-Redshift Quasars7:45 – 8:45NoNo
Q&A Session8:45 – 9:00Start All on MuteYes                               
Biobreak/Book signing9:00 – 9:20YesYes
“Unjournal Club” – No presentation scheduledN/AStart All on MuteNo
Business Meeting9:20 – 9:50Start All on MuteYes
Director’s remarks/Informal chatting9:50 – 10:00Start All on MuteYes

Getting to Peyton Hall

The parking lots across the street (Ivy Lane) from Peyton Hall are now construction sites, unavailable for parking. We’ve been advised by the administration of the astrophysics department that we should park in the new enclosed parking garage off Fitzrandolph street and walk around the stadium and athletic fields. Here’s a map of the campus and walking routes from the parking garage to Peyton Hall. The map shows the recently completed East Garage. Not shown is an access road Sweet Gum that connects from Faculty Road to an entrance at the lower left corner of the garage. Stadium Road connects from Fitzrandolph Road to another entrance at the opposite corner (and higher level) of the garage.

Recent reconnaissance visits to campus show that the walk from the parking garage to Peyton Hall takes about 15 minutes. We will post small signs marking the path.

“Meet the Speaker” dinners

Along with our return to Peyton Hall, we are re-instituting our “Meet the Speaker” dinners at Winberie’s Restaurant & Bar at One Palmer Square. The restaurant has a meeting room that accommodates up to 30 people.  I have reserved this room for 5:45 pm on meeting night. Please contact me by phone or email if you are planning to attend.

image-1Featured Speaker: Michael Strauss, PhD

Professor and Chair,

Department of Astrophysics, Princeton University

The First Black Holes in the Universe: Searching for the Highest-Redshift Quasars A quasar, we now know, is a galaxy in which gas is falling into the central supermassive black hole. The glowing of that gas before it passes the event horizon is so energetic that it can outshine the rest of the galaxy.  Prof. Strauss will describe the search for the most distant, and thus highest-redshift, quasars in the universe, corresponding to a time less than a billion years after the Big Bang.  Using a wide variety of telescopes, Dr. Strauss and his colleagues are exploring the properties of these quasars with the aim of understanding how the black holes formed and grow and the relationship between them and the galaxies in which they reside.  The James Webb Space Telescope promises to give more insights to the question: How did a black hole with a mass of over a billion solar masses grow in less than a billion years after the Big Bang?

Michael Strauss, PhD Michael Strauss is professor and chair of the Department of Astrophysical Sciences at Princeton University.  He earned his PhD from the University of California at Berkeley in 1989, and did postdoctoral stints at Caltech and the Institute for Advanced Study before coming to Princeton. His research uses wide-field surveys of the sky to study the nature and evolution of galaxies and quasars, and to measure the large-scale structure of the universe to explore fundamental questions of cosmology.  He has served as Vice President of the American Astronomical Society, Deputy Project Scientist for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and Chair of the Science Advisory Committee of the Vera Rubin Observatory. 

“Welcome to the Universe” – Book Signing The universe is awesome. That’s very much preaching to the choir in this club, but to the public at large, that can be a tough sell. Empowering undergraduates to understand the universe was the purpose astrophysicist and director of undergraduate studies Neta Bahcall had in mind when she selected tonight’s guest speaker Michael Strauss, his Princeton colleague J. Richard Gott and science explainer and director of the Hayden Planetarium Neal deGrasse Tyson to devise and teach an undergraduate course to non-science majors at Princeton University. The course became enormously popular, and eventually the basis of several books giving a tour of the universe from an astronomical point of view. In due course (couldn’t resist), Princeton colleague (and AAAP member) Robert Vanderbei came on board to help visualize astronomical phenomena in three dimensions. At November’s meeting, a representative of Labyrinth Books will be selling copies of “Welcome to the Universe…” in three of its variations, and Profs. Strauss and Vanderbei will be on hand to sign them.

image-2 book1 book2

How to Participate if you are attending 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.

Join Zoom Meeting Link  Meeting ID: 841 7825 4415  Passcode: 834813

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. 

Join YouTube Live to listen to the speaker using the link below –


YouTube  Dr. Michael Strauss, Welcome to the Universe

This session will be recorded and saved on YouTube. Send me an email at if you have any concerns. 

“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:

December 13, 2022Ira Polans, former Program Chair of AAAP Rising nearly 400 feet above the desert floor in a remote section of ancient Anasazi territory in New Mexico is a sacred Native American site that a thousand years ago revealed the changing seasons to Anasazi astronomers. Ira will present a documentary film about the “Sun Dagger” and talk about indigenous people of New Mexico. Note that this film is solely for viewing by in-person members, as copyright restrictions will not permit broadcasting it on the internet.
January 10, 2023
Virtual meeting
Alyssa Pagan, Space Telescope Science Institute Alyssa works to process the JWST images that have been leaving us sockless. She’ll talk about JWST and her work turning its data into images. This meeting will be virtual only, while renovations to Peyton Hall’s lecture hall are completed.
February. 2023Jenny Greene, Princeton University Professor of Astrophysics Jenny recently wrote an article on middleweight black holes for Sky & Telescope. She will discuss the contents of her article.
March 14, 2023Joe DePasquale, Space Telescope Science Institute Joe is Senior Data Imaging Developer in the Office of Public Outreach at the Space Telescope Science Institute. A colleague of Alyssa’s, Joe will describe his work turning JWST data into images.
April-May, 2023TBA
June 13, 2023Bill Murray, AAAP’s Outreach Director and staffer at NJ State Museum planetarium Bill will give his traditional planetarium show at the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton.

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

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

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