AAA President Message – December

Dear AAA’ers,

We find ourselves in December with the Sun in Ophiuchus—a very large, unfamiliar constellation on the ecliptic. It was there last December, twelve months ago; we’ve taken another orbit around the Sun. How fast it goes! Does it feel the same to you?

Looking back on the year, you should be proud of yourself in helping the club remain relevant and vital in our communities. All of us participate in education and public outreach to fulfill our mission of promoting the study of astronomy, emphasizing its cultural and inspirational value. We do it by attending classes or lectures, participating in community stargazing outreach, Starfesting, promoting cultural diversity, volunteering to present to school children, and coming together at parties. Read more details found below under 2018 Highlights.

I trust you find value in what we did last year and you want to continue. It’s membership renewal time so please respond early to the email. Your dues helpp the club to maintain and improve operations, discover new opportunities and create new programs.

Below is more of the detail, so the summary here is:

  • Happy holidays to you and yours!
  • Annual Holiday Party scheduled for 10 January 2019 at Manhattan Proper
    • Shout to the Fall Social planners: “Thanks!”
  • Email Alert: 2019 Membership Renewal
    • Please renew early; consider giving extra, any value, 100% participation
  • Recognize the work people performed in supporting many of the 2018 activities
    • Appreciate the time and effort folks contribute; the world is a better place because of them
  • Refresher: Google Groups is how we communicate Member-to-Member in general & special interest groups.

Holiday Cheer!

It won’t be too long for the various holidays that we each  celebrate. I genuinely hope that you cherish the time with family, friends, and yourself. We have much to be grateful for and could share that sentiment with others.



Mark your calendar January 10, 2019 to celebrate the holidays AAA style at the annual Holiday Party. We meet at Manhattan Proper, 6 Murray Street, downtown Manhattan. More details will follow later in the month.

Speaking of parties, the Fall Social was a wonderful time. It is an opportunity for all us to hang out and have a good time. It was lively with group conversations, Messier Marathon Bingo, and raffles. I personally relish these parties because I get to meet many of you. You are the club, the spirit that brings life to our goals and joy to those we meet. Thanks to Rori Baldari, Brian Berg, Bhaswan Kurra, and Susan Andreoli who were expert in planning and producing a fantastic event, one with a very large turnout.


AAA Membership Renewal Season

Be on alert for Membership Renewal email. If you have difficulty, concerns, or questions when renewing, please don’t hesitate to contact [email protected] or myself to get assistance.

As a reminder, all active members prior to August 1, 2018, your annual membership renewal date is on January 1, 2019 and is valid for one year. All members still retain their “member since” date, but that is no longer used in membership renewal dates. Please submit your renewal prior to this date. All gifts, of any of value, are appreciated. Let’s set the goal for 100% participation.

All new members after August 1, 2018 or later, have the same member since and member renewal date. Their membership runs for one year from the date their registration was processed and stared in the Welcome letter.

We have over 800 members and I sincerely hope you renew your membership and gift the AAA. The small amount for the membership fee considerably helps the club  in maintaining operations of programs that benefit our members and enable the club to be a productive, contributing citizen in each of our communities.

Your membership and gifts help with new program development like a members-only telescope loan program, a school/student awards  and scholarship program, revamp of our information technology infrastructure which will streamline  management systems for event registration, communications, membership, and payment processing. An evaluation to elevate Spring Starfest to the same level as Fall Starfest with speakers, movies, and events for whole families is underway.


2018 Program Recognition

AAA accomplished a lot this past year and is not stopping in its continued effort to improve existing programs and develop new ones.

AAA Classes educate and prepare members to be more informed and capable to be an active contributor. Dave Kiefer, Stan Honda, and myself with help from Jason Tang, Howard Fink, Omri Elisha, delivered classes to AAA members ranging in areas of science education to astrophotography to stargazing. We are  further thankful to a cadre of people behind the scenes who volunteer time to plan, manage, and support this program like Irene Pease, John Benfatti, and student volunteers, along with our classroom vendor Cicatelli.

AAA Lectures is another learning opportunity that we offer to members and open to the public. As chair of the program David Kraft serves a creative director, outlining the seasons program and recruits distinguished speakers, professionals in different astronomical and astrophysical studies. In the background, Faissal Halim, serves as an operations director by being liaison among David, the speaker, AMNH contact, and local restaurants. Susan Andreoli, Stan Honda, and Irene Pease are critical to the success of each lecture night.

The public stargazing session is one of the most intimate ways we bring astronomy outreach to the people. Rori Baldari, John BenfattiOtto Chin, Joe DiNapoliJoe Delfausse, Faissal Halim, Bruce Kamiat, Dave KaufmanArtie Kunhardt, and Irene Pease are site coordinators at several locations throughout the five boroughs. Each has many members volunteer time and share their equipment. Tom Haeberle offers his time to organize and coordinate the members-only trip to North South Lake where one can experience the night sky “the way it oughta be”. As always, we couldn’t be more thankful to members that drive us up and back.

The Eyepiece editorial staff has done a wonderful job in managing the transition of our newsletter to be fully web-based. This year they have delivered 12 months of fantastic club reporting, magazine stories and feature articles spanning different aspects and perspectives that satisfy our common interest in astronomy. It is a tremendous amount of volunteer time and effort to produce each issue, especially near month end. We truly appreciate the contributions from Jeff Williams, Alan Rude, Richard Brounstein, Rafael Ferreira, and Chirag Upreti.

The AAA Astrophotography group continued to reveal the beauty of the world around us and demonstrate that astronomy is not list the city dweller. Their effort and enthusiasm did not go unnoticed for the amount of artistic and technical work they produce. Their work was recognized by, Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD), National Geographic. They posted material to Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube., as well complied their work for videos shown at Autumn Starfest, AAA soscials, and used at school outreach.  There is a roster of people involved which include Stan Honda, Bhaswan Kurra, Maggie MachinskyPreston Stahly, and Chirag Upreti that curate content on the social channels. Mauri Rosenthal has shared a significant amount of his work and workflow description in Eyepiece. I don’t mean to miss others, but the list of the many, many people producing fabulous photos would be long.

Next month the list will continue with other programs AAA offered and the support from volunteers.


Member-to-Member Communication: General and Special Interest Group 

Did you know we have  several members-onlyAAA Google Groups, listserv (email distribution) for those interested in specific areas of astronomy:

  • AAA Talk-Talk – for members wishing to participate in discussions of general interest about astronomy. Do have news about a non-AAA event or questions that are community may be of help, do you want to alert of others of a movie, book, something on sale? This is the place to share, just be mindful we are an amateur astronomy organization when you post.
  • AAA Dark Sky Observing Group – for members who want to talk about stargazing and equipment. The group is used to announce upcoming trips and to arrange ride sharing for out of town trips to darker skies.
  • AAA Volunteer Observers Group – for members with telescopes who volunteer to bring their scopes to our free public observing sessions in the city.
  • AAA Astrophotography Group – for members interested in night-sky photography.

If you wish to participate in any of these groups, please send an email to [email protected] .

In closing, I wish you a happy holiday and hope to see soon at the next Lecture or the Holiday Party.

All the best!