by David Kaplan
AAAP lost a longtime member, Saul Moroz. He loved our club. He loved its members and he loved our beautiful science, astronomy.
About ten years ago something sparked my interest in astronomy. My wife, Arlene, knew Saul had an interest in astronomy and suggested I contact him. And so I did. Immediately, Saul rekindled the interest I had as a kid in astronomy and suggested I join AAAP.
For several years we traveled together to club meetings, always having interesting discussions about world affairs and astronomy. The conversation usually started off with Saul asking, “Did you see NASA’s picture of the day?”
Saul started as a glazier at about the age of 16. His first job was changing a heavy glass window on the 108th floor of the Empire State Building. What an initiation to a lifelong career! His knowledge of glass and its properties most likely led him to polishing mirrors and building reflector telescopes.
Early in our friendship he invited me along to a convention of vendors of astronomical instruments at Union College. One of the items on the agenda was a visit to the college’s observatory. I was game for that, but Saul was stalling. “Been there,” he said. But after a few minutes he acquiesced and we both walked over toward the observatory. When we entered the building a talk had already begun. A lecturer was standing on atop a ladder adjacent to the eyepiece of their rather large telescope. In the middle of a sentence he stopped and said, “I have to acknowledge who just came in to our observatory. Saul Moroz was a major contributor in building this facility.” I was flabbergasted. He had never mentioned a word.
One evening, driving to Princeton, I asked Saul about his vacation in Colorado from which he had just returned. He said that while on vacation he had visited the National Solar Observatory.
“I drove up to the facility. No one was around except for a grounds keeper. I introduced myself as an amateur astronomer who belonged to a club in Princeton, New Jersey and was wondering if a tour of the observatory was available. The fellow said, “Wait here, I’ll find out.”
Saul said, that the guy misinterpreted, or misheard what he had said. Because in the length of time the grounds keeper took to find the Director of the observatory, Saul had been promoted to: “An astronomer from Princeton University is here to see you,” he told the Director of the National Solar Observatory, who was in the middle of conducting a staff meeting.
Saul said the Director introduced him to the staff as an astronomer from Princeton University. “No, I’m just an amateur astronomer.”
The director adjourned the meeting and took Saul to his office. Saul said, “Why did you stop the meeting, I was just looking for a little tour.”
“The meeting was boring. Tell me about AAAP.”
Saul said the director was really interested in our club and about the illustrative speakers the club is fortunate to invite.
“In his office there was a monitor displaying in real time what the solar telescope was observing. Right in the middle of our chat a massive prominence lifted off a limb of the sun. ‘Holy Sh*t!’ the director said, jumping up and grabbing me by the arm. ‘Where are we going?’”
“The conference room has no monitors. Those people haven’t seen this yet. I think they should be observing this event.”
This could only happen to Saul. He received his doctorate in astronomy from the grounds keeper and observed a prominent solar event in real time at the National Solar Observatory.
I will always remember Saul as a most generous person. Throughout his adult life he literally donated gallons of blood to blood banks, and in death, donated his body to cancer research.
Saul was quite a guy.
We are impressed with Saul’s credentials and his generous acts of donating blood and in the end his body for cancer research. May his soul rest in peace.