From the Program Chair

By Victor Davis

The January meeting of the AAAP will take place virtually only (via Zoom) on Tuesday, January 10th at 7:30 PM. As usual, the meeting is open to AAAP members and the public.

Please take note that due to renovations to our customary meeting room in Peyton Hall, we will not have access to meet in person there this month. Virtual 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’ve had some security concerns during a past broadcast, so we’re 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.

Former Program Chair Ira Polans will introduce this month’s guest speaker, as I will be on vacation the week of the meeting.

We expect to resume in-person meetings (with hybrid Zoom option) at Peyton Hall next month.

Alyssa-PaganAlyssa Pagan
Science Visuals Developer
Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI)

The Art and Science of Visualizing Webb Imagery

Last Christmas, The James Webb Space Telescope began its journey toward its gravitationally stable L2 vantage point nearly a million miles from Earth, flawlessly unfolding its 18-panel hexagonal mirror and unfurling its tennis-court-sized sunshade along the way. It was an inspirational feat, surmounting enormous technical challenges and budget woes that nearly put an end to the whole ambitious project – several times. Fast forward nearly seven months to July 12, 2022 when the first science images from JWST were revealed to the public. From the start, it was clear that JWST is fundamentally altering our view of our cosmos. But JWST is not a point-and-shoot camera. The workflow from raw data to sock-dropping images is non-trivial to say the least. As our guest speaker will explain, creating color imagery is a delicate balance between art and science, which is guided by the fundamental goals of astronomical imagery; to educate, inspire, and engage.

Ms. Pagan will give us an in-depth look at the process of taking raw, black-and-white astronomical data and translating it into color imagery that reveals both astronomical insights and great beauty. Using real data from the Webb telescope, she will demonstrate the varying stages in processing Webb imagery from acquiring data, scaling brightness values, detector artifact correction, and assigning colors that adhere to aesthetic and scientific principles.


30 Doradus         Credit: NASA/STScI/A. Pagan

Alyssa Pagan
Alyssa Pagan is a Science Visuals Developer in the Office of Public Outreach at the Space Telescope Science Institute. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Art and Design from Towson University, and subsequently a degree in Astronomy from The University of Maryland, College Park. Leveraging her talents in art and science, Ms. Pagan produces color images of astronomical objects that are both scientifically informed and aesthetically compelling, striving to make the Universe and our understanding of it more accessible, inspiring, and engaging.

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 Ms. Alyssa Pagan using the link below –


YouTube  Dr. Avi Loeb, The Galileo Project: In Search of Technological Interstellar Objects

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 on our belief that many members have already used Zoom and have found it easy to use. 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.

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.

How to Participate:

  • 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: 885 9000 6330   Passcode: 027924

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:

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 11, 2023Ira 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.
May 9, 2023Gary Rendsburg, Distinguished Professor of Jewish Studies and History at Rutgers Prof. Rendsburg will talk about “The Jewish Calendar,” with emphasis on its astronomical connections to lunar months, intercalated month to adjust to the solar year, festival days, and new moon observances.
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 January 2023, Sidereal Times and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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