By Michael Wright, Secretary
Director Jeff Bernardis opened the meeting. He awarded new keyholder Lee Sandburg with his key. Jeff introduced the nominations committee, Jim McHenry and John Giles. Jim announced the following slate of candidates for the 2014-15 Board of Trustees:
• Director – Rex Parker
• Assist. Director – Larry Kane
• Treasurer – Michael Mitrano
• Secretary – Jim Poinsett
• Program Chair – Kate Otto
Prof. Jeremiah Ostriker of Princeton Astrophysics stopped by the meeting to leave his new book and to offer to speak before the club.
Program Chair Kate Otto introduced the three speakers for the evening: members Ken Kremer, Gene Ramsey and Robert Vanderbei. Ken announced that a Cygnus cargo module will be launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on the afternoon of May 6. Ken encouraged members to attend and offered to provide information on how best to view the launch. Gene demonstrated an iOS and Android planetarium app called Sky Safari that can be used to control a GoTo telescope. The app also contains encyclopedic information and stunning graphics of astronomical objects. Gene also demonstrated some observing tools that he designed and built such as solar finder, iPad holder and two different eyepiece trays. Robert Vanderbei first showed a video about his latest photography project: snowflake macrophotography. He then explained the techniques he uses to take astrophotographs from his driveway with various combinations of Ritchey-Chretien, Takahashi and Questar telescopes, and Canon DSLR and Starlight Express cameras.
Larry Kane announced that the club has been invited to participate in Communiversity, which will be held on April 27, 2014 in Princeton. Volunteers are needed to bring solar scopes and staff the club’s table.
After a short break, Jeff convened the business meeting. He thanked the Board of Trustee nominees for volunteering to serve. Elections will be at the May meeting as required by the by-laws.
Washington Crossing Park Association – Trustee Larry Kane announced that WCPA is holding a clean-up in the park on April 27, which is the same day as Communiversity. Volunteers are needed.
Simpson Observatory – Gene Ramsey reported that the water is on and some repairs were made so the observatory is ready for the public. Unfortunately, the first Friday was rained out. Access procedures were discussed. Anyone arriving before dark can use the dirt road that passes by the campsites to reach Brick Yard Road and the observatory. Anyone arriving after dark must park at the soccer fields and walk in. Anyone parked at the observatory after dark must leave via Brick Yard Road. The consensus was that the current situation is unacceptable for several reasons discussed at previous meetings. Gene volunteered to contact the park administration again to try and persuade them to allow visitors to enter and leave after dark via the dirt road. He will request that they fill the potholes.
Outreach Report – Dave Letcher announced that the club has been invited to participate in Super Science Saturday on May 3 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the NJ State Museum. Volunteers are needed to bring solar scopes and staff the club’s table. We have been invited to participate at an event at Stuart Country Day School in the summer. He will suggest that they move the observing to the fall so that it can start earlier in the evening.
Program Chair’s Report – Kate Otto said she appreciated recent flood of speaker ideas from members. Neta Bahcall of Princeton Astrophysics will speak in May. The June meeting will be at the planetarium at the NJ State Museum in Trenton. A speaker from NASA has been arranged for November with assistance from Ken Kremer.
Refractor Mount – It was agreed that a work party will be held on April 26 to install the new Gemini mount under the refractor. At the same time, the new C14 will be set up on a tripod for star testing, potentially that evening.
New Observatory Donation – Jeff contacted the potential buyer for the dome who said that he is interested but cannot take the dome immediately. He suggested that the club not wait for him.
Astronomical Calendar – Bill Murray reported that there will be a total lunar eclipse in the early morning of April 15.
Observatory Plans – Michael Wright announced that he scanned and copied the original observatory plans that John Church had in his archive. Anyone who would like the electronic files can email Mike, and he will provide a link to download them from Google Drive.
Jeff adjourned the meeting.