Minutes of the April 9, 2013 Meeting

by Michael Wright, Secretary

Director Ludy D’Angelo called the meeting to order.  He welcomed everyone to the meeting and encouraged members to stay for the business meeting after the lecture to discuss and vote on a Board recommendation to approve funds for the 50th anniversary celebration.

Ken Kremer announced that members could witness a rocket launch within driving distance from central New Jersey. The Antares rocket, contender for supply ship to the ISS, is scheduled for launch on April 17 from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, which on Virginia’s eastern shore near Chincoteague Island.  An observing area is available about 10 miles from the launch pad.

Ludy asked for volunteers to take club materials that he had been storing at home.  He encouraged more members to become keyholders because the public night teams are shorthanded this season.

Kate Otto, Program Chair, introduced the speaker, author Michael Lemonick, who presented an entertaining lecture and answered many questions about his career as a science journalist, the search for extrasolar planets and how he researched his new book “Mirror Earths.”  Following the lecture, Mr. Lemonick signed books in the lobby.

After a brief break, Ludy convened the business portion of the meeting.

50th Anniversary Celebration: Ludy explained the proposal before the membership tonight is to partially fund the celebration.  Secretary Michael Wright read the proposal:

The Board of Trustees recommends that an amount not to exceed $2,500 of the AAAPs general funds be used for the 50th Anniversary Celebration to be held on May 11, 2013. 

Kate and Ludy explained that this expenditure would be the club’s maximum contribution towards the event.  If the planning committee does not get enough sponsorships, the event will be cancelled or scaled back.  $8000 in sponsorships has been committed so far.  The fund raising effort is continuing.  Checks are coming in. The sponsorships so far would be enough for a bare-bones event, but the planning committee would like to do better. This approval will supplement the sponsorship money so a deposit can be given to the caterer when needed.  If enough funds are received from sponsors, the expenditure will be returned to the club reserve.  The Board limited the expenditure to $2500 because the Board was comfortable spending that amount.  The current cash reserves are at $22,600.

A motion to approve the recommendation was moved by Larry Kane and seconded by Dan Reynolds. The proposal was approved by unanimous vote of 42 paid members present.

Nominations: On behalf of Nominations Chair Jim Poinsett, Michael announced the slate of candidates for the 2013-2014 Board of Trustees as follows:

Director – Jeff Bernardis
Assist. Director – Larry Kane
Treasurer – Michael Mitrano
Secretary – Michael Wright
Program Chair – Kate Otto

Ludy announced that the annual meeting will be held at the 50th anniversary celebration.  The only item on the agenda is the Board election.  He strongly encouraged all members to attend.  The June meeting will be annual planetarium show.

UACNJ: – Ludy announced that the club’s UACNJ membership is due for renewal.  He asked for volunteers to be the club’s liason to UACNJ.  Bill Murray said he would do it again.  He asked what the club’s plans were regarding the observatory at Jenny Jump.  Ludy replied that the plans for the remote observatory at Jenny Jump have been abandoned.  Disposition of the telescope and existing structure will be up to the next Board.

Outreach:  Ludy announced that the club will be participating in Communiversity on April 28 and Super Science Saturday on May 4.  Volunteers are needed.

Outreach Chair David Letcher announced the following events:

  • Stuart Country Day School – originally scheduled for April 10 is postponed
  • Millstone River School – April 11, four members have volunteered but more are preferred
  • D&R Greenway – Perseid meteor viewing in August will be at more accessible location

Observing at 50th Anniversary Celebration: Rex Parker explained that the observing will be outside Wolfensohn Hall after the panel discussion.  Guests will pass by on the way from dinner to the panel discussion.  There is a parking lot nearby.  The plan is to set up around 4:00 p.m.  Five members have volunteered so far to set up their scopes.  More are welcome.  Rex will send a map to those who are interested.  AC power will not be provided.

Program Chair: Kate reported that the Franklin Institute is holding a Science in the City program and have invited members to participate by setting up scopes for public viewing.  Kate has invited Derek Pitts, astronomer at the Franklin Institute to participate in club events.  She hoped that the club participation in the institute’s events would encourage Derek to reciprocate.  Ludy said that Derek has not been interested in attending club events in the past.  Kate is arranging for speakers for the Fall meetings.

Observatory Report: Observatory Chair Gene Ramsey reported that the park administration would like the club to implement the following for access on public nights:

  • Member access would be via Church Road and Brick Yard Road
  • Public access would be through the main gate until 8:00 p.m.
  • After 8:00 p.m., the public would park at the soccer fields and walk in.
  • All exit via Brick Yard Road and Church Road

The park administration’s goal is to remove vehicle traffic from the camping area. After a long discussion, the members concluded this scheme was impractical because the public needs a single access to the observatory until late in the evening particularly when the sky does not darken until 9:30 p.m.  Also, the walk in the dark is too long and not safe for the elderly, pregnant women and the disabled.  Members discussed various options.  Gene said the park will not allow two-way traffic on Brick Yard because it is too narrow.  Members agreed the best practical solution would be:

  • Member access would be via Church Road and Brick Yard Road
  • Public access would be through the main gate until 11:00 p.m.
  • Upon closing the observatory, all exit via Brick Yard Road and Church Road.
  • No parking at the soccer fields.

If the park police would call the observatory when they close the main gate, keyholders will tell visitors to exit via Brick Yard Road.  Gene will bring this recommendation back to Neil Ferrari.  Gene thanked Mary Hayes for making glow-in-the-dark nametags for keyholders.

Gene said that more keyholders are needed because some keyholders have resigned. Anyone who would like to become a keyholder should contact Gene or Larry Kane.  Gene is revising the duty roster and will distribute it and post it on the website as soon as possible.

Rex reported the mason is ready to start the column repair authorized at last months meeting.  John Church reminded that Brick Yard Road is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays because the nature center is closed.  Gene volunteered to unlock the gate for the mason if he wants to work on a Monday or Tuesday.

Sidereal Times:  Michael Wright said the submission deadline for the May Sidereal Times is April 30.

StarQuest:  In response to a member question, Ludy said that StarQuest is scheduled for Sept. 8.  It will be up to the new Board to plan the event over the summer.  He is willing to cook again, but he will not organize the event.  Bill Murray suggested that it be an observing event for members and guests only.

Ludy adjourned the meeting.

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