Minutes of the May 13, 2014 Meeting

By Michael Wright, Secretary

Director Jeff Bernardis opened the meeting.  He introduced Jim McHenry of the Nominating Committee who presented 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

Jim motioned for acceptance, which was seconded by Mary Hayes.  Jeff verified that a quorum of at least fifteen members were present.  Eligible members unanimously voted by a show of hands for the slate.  Jeff thanked Board members individually for their service last year.  He reminded that the observatory donation was unfinished business that the new Board needs to address and wished Rex Parker success as the new Director.

Program Chair Kate Otto introduced this month’s speaker Prof. Neta Bahcall, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Astrophysics and the Director of the Undergraduate Program in

Astrophysics at Princeton University.  Prof. Bahcall gave a detailed explanation and answered many questions about the evidence for dark matter.  Due to many questions, she could only give overview of dark energy.  It was suggested that, if she were willing, the club would like to have her return to continue her engrossing lecture.

After a short break, Jeff convened the business meeting.

Communiversity – Assist. Director Larry Kane announced that Communiversity (4/27/14) was a success and thanked John Giles, Pat & Mary Hayes, Bill Murray and John Miller for helping at the club booth.  They handed out S&T freebies and about 80 new club brochures that Larry edited.

Super Science Saturday  – Larry reported that SSS (5/3/14) was a good day for talking about AAAP because the day was mostly cloudy.  Jen & Dave Skitt, Victor Davis, Gene Ramsey and Dave Letcher manned the AAAP booth and handed out solar glasses and the AAAP brochure.

Washington Crossing Park Association – Larry reported that the WCPA held a successful clean up on the same day as SSS so AAAP participation was limited.  Larry also enjoyed the recent history fair held at the park and recommended that members consider attending next year.

Simpson Observatory – Gene Ramsey announced that new member Alex Hakkinen is interested in becoming a keyholder.  He thanked the team that installed the new Gemini mount under the Hastings-Byrne refractor:  Jeff Bernardis, John Church, Rex Parker and David Skitt.  (See John’s report in the May sidereal times for details.)  Dave briefly explained operation of the mount. The manual in PDF format will be forwarded to keyholders for their use and a hard copy will be kept in the cabinet in the observatory.  Keyholder training will be scheduled.

The ongoing access issues were discussed again.  The AAAP lock is not on the Church Road gate so we are forced to enter and leave by the soccer fields.  Gene suggested that team leaders invite campers to the observatory.  Also, tell campers that visitors and keyholders we will be leaving at 11:00 p.m. so they are less likely to complain about us leaving via the soccer fields.

Everyone should avoid parking on the grass because it is still soft from the recent rains.  John Church and Michael Mitrano are working on a plan to spread new stone at the observatory. The park administration has approved the proposal but limited it to restoning over the existing driveway and parking areas.   A member work party will be called to spread the stone after it is delivered.

John Church obtained a quote from Bob Newcamp in the amount of $570 to raise the roof to prevent it from catching on the interior wall.  Additional work may be required, after the deteriorated wood is removed.  After a discussion of the proposed repairs, Larry Kane made a motion, which was seconded by Michael Mitrano, to accept the quote and to authorize an expenditure of up to $1000 for the repair.  John Church volunteered to be onsite when the work is done.

Gene said that if an upcoming Boy Scout visit is clouded out on Friday night, he would like to offer them Saturday night.  Rex was concerned that keyholders using the observatory on Saturday night would be bumped.  Gene said that he would send an email to keyholders alerting them about visitors on Saturday night.

Jennifer Skitt requested that keyholders remove the ladder from the scope room on public nights and return it at the end of the evening.

Outreach Report – Dave Letcher thanked everyone who helped with Super Science Saturday and Communiversity.  He announced another event with the D&R Greenway in August to view the Perseids.

June Meeting – The June meeting will be at the planetarium at the NJ State Museum in Trenton.  Bill Murray said that the show will be one of two new shows: “Blackholes” or “Back to the Moon”.  Also, he is hosting a semi-private planetarium show on Friday May 30 to be followed by a visit to the observatory.  He will alert the team leader for that night.

Solar Observing – Gene announced that he will host a solar observing party at the Nature Center on Sunday of Memorial Day weekend.  The rain date is Monday.

Jeff adjourned the meeting.

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