Minutes of the January 10, 2023, AAAP Members General Meeting (hybrid)

by Gene Allen, Secretary

Director Rex Parker convened the meeting at 1930 on Zoom due to the Peyton Hall auditorium being closed for an audio/video upgrade. After a brief introduction listing the threat to the historic Holmdel Horn, the Rocket Lab private mission to Venus, approaching comet C/2022 E3, and advances in fusion research, formerProgram Chair Member Ira Polans introduced speaker Alyssa Pagan, Science Visuals Developer in the Office of Public Outreach at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI). She detailed the software and techniques she uses to transform raw black and white images taken at various frequencies by the James Webb Space Telescope into gorgeous color images. She made a JavaScript program they wrote to eliminate saturated star centers available to us.

NOTE: The recording of this and other AAAP talks can be found on the AAAP YouTube page at


Some 75 attendees were noted during the talk.

Following a break, the meeting was reconvened at 2105.

The National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory reported that for the first time ever they extracted more energy from a fusion reaction than was used to create it. The NIF is the world’s largest and most energetic laser system and the size of a sports stadium. They have been making more advances with laser heating and containment than have the folks at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory in their tokamak. It’s been a few years since our AAAP after-hours tour and it was suggested that we see about inviting one of their staff as a speaker to bring us up to date.

There were appreciative comments about the Zoomed astrovideo sessions and a request to make them regular. That is difficult to arrange because of frequently bad weather and limited availability of those who are willing and able to contribute scopes. The discussion morphed into a request for an astro-imagers sub-group among AAAP members. The idea is for a collaborative education group of those actively engaged in taking astro photos or processing photos downloaded from the web. Member Dr. Michael DiMario stepped forward and offered to serve as Lead Facilitator. The Secretary offered to try to set up a separate group on the AAAP mail server, much like that for keyholders, and in addition it was proposed that Discord be used.

The trajectory of comet C/2022 E3 was reviewed and its closest passage to Earth on February 1 was noted, making January the best time to image it. Rex shared a video of the comet that he created by combining multiple FITS files into an .AVI using Maxim DL. He encouraged us to observe and image it.

Observatory Co-Chair Dave Skitt gave an update on the latest changes at Simpson Observatory:

 – An inexpensive hand truck was acquired and outfitted to move the donated 12” Dob out for use.

 – Larger monitors have been acquired and installed. All now connect via HMDI.

 – The noisy Hastings mount has been lubed but not exercised fully due to weather.

 – The water supply valve at the Nature Center has been holding so the line shows zero pressure.

Some park leadership personnel have left or retired, acting/temporary superintendent Lee German has been appointed, and money has been released for a new visitor center. It is a good time to make appeals for tree trimming and desperately needed decent gates and gravel on our evening entry route.

A Board Meeting will be held via Zoom on January 24. All members are welcome to attend.

The meeting was adjourned at 2230.

Our membership currently numbers 191. 59 joined in 2022, and 3 have already joined in 2023. We have had 125 renew in CY 2022 while 60 allowed their membership to expire, giving us a 68% retention rate.

This entry was posted in February 2023, Sidereal Times and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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