Minutes of July 9, 2013 Board Meeting

Attendees:
Jeff Bernardis, Director
Larry Kane, Assistant Director
Michael Mitrano, Treasurer
Kate Otto, Program Chair
Michael Wright, Secretary
James Poinsett
David Letcher
Gene Ramsey
John Church
Bill Murray
Jennifer Skitt
David Skitt
John Giles
Arshad Jilani

1. StarQuest
Director Jeff Bernardis reported that Ludy D’Angelo polled the members regarding their interest in attending StarQuest at Hope Conference Center, September 6, 7 and 8. Eleven members replied affirmatively. Jeff thought twelve was the minimum number. The group agreed that we should go ahead with StarQuest; however, no one was willing to lead the effort. Jeff said he would discuss the decision further with Ludy.

2. Picnic
Jeff asked for a volunteer to organize the picnic. No one volunteered.

3. Simpson Observatory
Observatory Chair Gene Ramsey thanked Rex Parker, Dave Zahler, David Skitt and Michael Mitrano for quickly replacing the burned out circuit board in the Paramount. He reported on recent improvements at the observatory by himself and David and Jennifer Skitt such as fixing the roof flap, restocking the first aid kit, replacing the defective switch in the Telrad, and creating a guest log.

Gene reviewed the access and parking procedures on public nights, which have not changed since they were reported at the last AAAP meeting. Gene suggested that members and visitors could leave via the soccer fields if there are no campers in the park. Gene has bought a new water resistant lock for the Brick Yard Road gate, which he is going to offer to the park administration to share with the antique farm equipment group.

The alarm needs a new backup battery. David Skitt volunteered to look into it.

John Giles reported that the Gemini mount has been repaired and is ready for installation. A work party will be scheduled to install it under the refractor in November after the public observing season is over.

The merits of surge protection and lightning protection for the observatory were discussed. It was agreed that installation of inexpensive surge suppressors, preferably inside the outlet boxes, would be prudent to protect the computer, mounts and other electronics from transient spikes while they are being used. We should continue our current practice of unplugging all electronics when closing down the observatory.

4. Treasurer’s Report
Michael Mitrano hahttps://princetonastronomy.wordpress.com/wp-admin/users.phpnded out copies AAAP’s Balance Sheet as of June 30, 2013 and Profit and Loss Statement for FY2013. He requested that anyone holding receipts for reimbursable club expenses should submit them to him right away. The club is in sound financial condition to undertake the new observatory construction.

5. New Observatory
Michael Mitrano reported:

  • The donation is still available. The owner is anxious for AAAP to take possession. The storage fees have used up the cash reserve.
  • NJDEP is ready to approve the observatory, but they would like AAAP to obtain building permits first.
  • Two quotes have been obtained from masons for an octagonal block structure. Michael distributed sketches, a scope of work and the quotes. The preferred quote from H. Kurt Seiferth Contracting, Inc. for option A is $9,700. It does not include electrical work, topsoil and seeding, the ring for mounting the dome on the structure and painting. Members could do this work; however, an electrician will probably be required to run two circuits from the panel board in the existing observatory.
    The group had a long discussion about the details of the plan, potential construction issues, and transportation and storage of the dome and equipment. Michael made a motion, seconded by Secretary Michael Wright, that the Board approve and recommend to the membership that $12,000 of AAAP’s reserves be appropriated for construction of the structure including electrical work and permit fees. The Board passed the motion unanimously. It will be published in Sidereal Times and voted on by the membership at the September meeting.

6. UACNJ
Delegate Bill Murray reported on the last UACNJ meeting that he attended as follows:

  • The annual symposium is scheduled for October 5.
  • UACNJ asked for more AAAP brochures. Arshad Jilani and Jennifer Skitt volunteered to update the existing brochure, which Jeff will obtain from Ludy.
  • UACNJ would like AAAP to repair the observatory at Jenny Jump. If AAAP no longer wants it, we can remove the scope, and UACNJ will take over the observatory. AAAP can remain a member even if we decide to abandon the observatory. Bill will try to organize a work party when the summer is over.
  • A question came up about AAAP’s insurance coverage at Jenny Jump. Treasurer Michael Mitrano reported that the policy would cover AAAP if anyone is injured at either of our observatories. Michael will research further.

7. Outreach
David Letcher announced that AAAP has been invited to participate in the Perseid meteor watch sponsored by the D&R Greenway Trust on the evening of Monday, August 12 at St. Michaels Farm Preserve in Hopewell Township. The event will begin at 10:00 p.m. David is looking for volunteers to bring telescopes to the event for public viewing.

David will be conducting his backyard astronomy seminar for pre-teens to adults at the W-C Nature Center beginning on September 20, 7:30-8:30 p.m. After each lecture, participants will visit the observatory for viewing. Those who complete the four sessions will receive a certificate. Anyone interested should register with the Nature Center.

8. Publicity
Gene Ramsey congratulated Jeff on the recent article in the US 1 paper about the club. This was great publicity for the club. Jeff said the reported paraphrased his quotes, but overall her writing was accurate.

Michael Wright said he would like to open a free Mail Chimp account to use for emailing the membership. He said that the existing mail server would still be used for press releases and other internal communications. Jeff asked whether “princetonastronomy.org” would appear in the “From” address. Mike will verify. There was no objection. Also, Michael has updated the observatory information on the Washington-Crossing Park Wikipedia page. He will create a Wikipedia page for the AAAP.

9. Dues Policy for Couples and Families
Michael Wright asked about the dues policy for couples and families. Michael Mitrano explained that there is no written policy; however, in practice if both members of a couple are active members (i.e. officers, keyholders), both should pay dues. If only one is a member, the spouse can attend lectures and public observing nights because they are open to the public anyway. Also, children do not have to become members; however, a parent must join if a minor is going to be an active member.

10. Sidereal Times
July 15 is the deadline for mid-summer edition.

Submitted by Michael Wright, Secretary

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