by Michael Wright, Secretary
Ludy D’Angelo, Director
Jeff Bernardis, Assistant Director
Michael Mitrano, Treasurer
Michael Wright, Secretary
Kate Otto, Program Chair
Surabhi Agarwal, ST Co-editor
The meeting was called to order by Director Ludy D’Angelo.
- Treasurer’s Report: Michael Mitrano reported that the club had a surplus of approximately $1000 for 2012 and currently has approximately $23,000 in its accounts. Dues reminders will be going out to delinquent members soon.
- Observatory: Gene Ramsey was not in attendance. Jeff Bernardis reported that the observatory was not damaged during Hurricane Sandy. Gene has removed the duct tape that he used to seal openings, which worked well. The park staff is still cleaning and repairing damage around the park from the storm. Access is open from the soccer fields; however, the gate at Brick Yard Road is still broken. The park staff has temporarily barricaded the gates. Whether AAAP should offer to repair the gates was discussed, but not decided. The consensus was that access from Church Road via Brick Yard Road should be a priority and open before the public nights begin in April.
- Secretary’s Report / Sidereal Times: Michael Wright said that the deadline for Sidereal Times will be about one week early because the next meeting will be on Monday, February 4 instead of the second Tuesday. He will send out a reminder. Likewise the press release will go out earlier than usual.
- Outreach Report: David Letcher was not in attendance. Jeff Bernardis said there is an upcoming star party at Hopewell Elementary School.
- UACNJ/Jenny Jump Observatory: Michael Mitrano reported that UACNJ submitted a request for AAAP’s renewal and dues. He asked whether he should submit the renewal because AAAP will be closing our observatory at Jenny Jump. Ludy said that decision has not been made yet and should not be made until the plans for second observatory at Washington-Crossing are approved by the membership. What to do with the 12” refractor was discussed. Bill Murray said that many members like this scope because the optics are better than the C14. The mount is very old. If the club wants to dispose of the scope, he would like the opportunity to refurbish it.
- Observatory Donation:
- Michael Mitrano reported on the plans to construct a second observatory at Washington-Crossing to house the donated equipment. The committee appointed to plan the installation is Michael Mitrano, Jim McHenry, Eric Kaufman, Jim Poinsett, and Ira Polans.
- Michael presented sketches showing the location of the proposed observatory within the leasehold boundaries and an elevation of the structure. Ludy said the boundaries are shown incorrectly and should be corrected based on the lease documents. The preferred site is on the northwest side of the existing building to have the best sky views and avoid obstructing the existing observatory.
- Michael explained the process for obtaining approvals to build the structure. The committee has contacted the park administration, NJDEP and Hopewell Township and received favorable responses. A building permit will be required. The presence of wetlands needs to be checked.
- The building size and materials were discussed. A round building is difficult to build economically out of brick or block, so the committee is investigating other options such as an octagonal building. Ludy suggested another roll-off roof. Michael said the ultimate goal is to have an automated observatory, which would not be possible under a roll-off roof. Bill volunteered to check at NEAF for other solutions. The structure will be too small for public observing so a video feed from the scope to another location would be needed. Internet access would have to be brought in. The park currently has DSL. Verizon would probably charge a lot to bring in FIOS broadband because of its isolated location.
- Ludy said that the donor offered the donation about one year ago. AAAP needs to tell him when we will accept the donation; however, the membership has to vote to accept the donation first. An estimate for the observatory is needed before the issue can be put before the membership.
- Super Science Saturday: Bill announced that it will be held on May 4, 2013.
- 50th Anniversary Dinner: Kate Otto said that the committee visited IAS on January 9. IAS is holding May 11 and June 8 for us. They have excellent facilities for the event. The plan is to have a dinner, a program with a prominent speaker, and observing. (May 9 is new moon.) The theme is “Celebrating the Past, Inspiring the Future.” The committee is considering giving awards such Lifetime Achievement and/or Longevity. Surabhi Agarwal is contacting caterers for quotes. So far the quotes range from $40 to $100 per person.
- Program Chair: Kate Otto said that Jim Green, NASA Planetary Science Division Director, will be February’s speaker. The meeting is moved to February 4 to accommodate his schedule. She would like to take him to nice restaurant in Princeton, so various options were discussed. No decision was made. The speakers for the rest of this season are as follows:
March – Michael Lemonick
April – Rachel Somerville of Rutgers, or Clayton Myers of PPPL
May – Board elections, 50th anniversary dinner, speaker to be determined
June – Planetarium program in Trenton
- Picnic: The consensus was that we should hold the picnic again this year.
- Bill pointed out that PANSTARRS comet will reach mag. -1 and be visible in the evening sky in about five weeks (third week of Feb. 2012). When comet Hale-Bopp caught the public’s attention, about 600 people tried to visit the observatory. While Washington Crossing will not be open for public observing, we should plan on a public observing event. Various locations were discussed. Adequate parking and visibility of the northwest horizon are priorities. The soccer fields at Washington Crossing seemed the best location.
- Ludy announced that Jim Poinsett will be chairing the nomination committee again this year. Nominations should be submitted to Jim before the April meeting. Elections will be at the May meeting as required by the constitution.
- AAAP was contacted by a reporter doing an article for Inside New Jersey (the Star-Ledger’s magazine). Surabhi was interviewed, and the article about women in astronomy will be in the April issue.
- No date was set for the next Board meeting. Ludy will call the next meeting as needed.
Ludy adjourned the meeting.