From the Program Chair

By Victor Davis

Welcome to Peyton Hall
The May, 2023 meeting of the AAAP will take place IN PERSON on Tuesday, May 9th at 7:30 PM. As usual, the meeting is open to AAAP members and the public.

Options for Attending the April 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). This evening’s guest speaker is Alain Maury, discoverer of asteroids and operator and tour guide of a visual observatory in the pristine skies of Chile. He and his wife will join us for a “Meet the Speaker” dinner at La Mezzaluna restaurant in Princeton’s Palmer Square, then join us in Peyton Hall for his presentation “The Hunt for Near Earth Asteroids.” 

Here’s the anticipated agenda for May’s monthly meeting of the AAAP:

(Times are approximate)

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. It’s about a 10-15 minute walk from the parking garage to Peyton Hall.



Featured Speaker: Alain Maury
Asteroid Discoverer and Observatory Operator and Guide

The Hunt for Near Earth Asteroids
Astronomers, admittedly not reputed for their robust sense of humor, sometimes joke that the world would be a very different place if the dinosaurs had in place a space program sixty-five million years ago. The dinosaurs’ demise, along with seventy percent of all species of life on Earth, plus more recent harbingers such as Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 at Jupiter a few decades ago, motivated several apocalyptic (and abysmally bad) movies and an interest in discovering and characterizing Near Earth Asteroids (NEAs). Astronomers believe that with enough lead-time, perhaps measured in decades or centuries, potentially catastrophic impacts could be avoided by nudging dangerous objects away from Earth-intersecting trajectories. At the dawn of the space age, 20 Near Earth Asteroids were known; in 1980, the number reached 50. In 2000 we reached 1000 known NEAs. In 2022, we passed the 30000 mark, and counting… Mr. Maury will describe his own experience of how this revolution occurred, and why discovering more and smaller near earth asteroids is important.

Alain Maury
Alain Maury started as an amateur astronomer. The first asteroid he observed with his 3-inch telescope convinced him that asteroids were the most boring things in the sky. He later changed opinion, discovered his first Near Earth Asteroid (NEA) in 1983 and has followed the field ever since. He has worked in several observatories (Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur, Palomar Mountain Observatory, European Southern Observatory). In 2003 he left the professional world to open a touristic observatory in Chile’s Atacama desert. SPACE (San Pedro de Atacama Celestial Explorations) receives about 15,000 tourists per year who can discover the beauty of the universe through several large telescopes. The largest has an aperture of 45 inches. This activity allows him to finance his own research with a group of friends. The MAP project (Maury, Attard, Parrott) is the 4th most successful asteroid search program in the world, after the 3 largest, NASA financed programs.

For much more detail about the accomplishments of this fascinating astronomer, see his blog at

Thanks to Gene Allen for suggesting and following up with this month’s guest speaker.

This Month’s “Meet the Speaker” Dinner……will take place at La Mezzaluna restaurant.
25 Witherspoon Street (in Palmer Square) Princeton, NJ.
(609) 688-8515

La Mezzaluna is an Italian restaurant that features outdoor dining under a canopy. We’ll be honoring recent guest speakers John Church and Ira Polans as well as Mr. Maury. Please take note of the new location. Our club’s reservation is for 5:45 pm Tuesday, May 9th.

 Please contact me to reserve a spot if you’re planning to attend.

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 Ira Polans using the link below –


YouTubeAAAP May Meeting, Alain Maury, An astronomer and discoverer of comets and asteroids

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: 860 9778 5664  Passcode: 726729

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:

June 13, 2023
Bill 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.
Summer Hiatus
Later this fall
Gary 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.

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

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

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