AAA President Message – January

Happy New Year Fellow AAA’ers,

I hope you enjoyed your holiday festivities as much as I did. A time spent with family and friends, giving and caring are dominant, much like the AAA. As a full volunteer organization, our members contribute time, effort, expertise, and devotion to promoting the study of astronomy and enriching our communities with education and outreach. 

Renewals & Donations

It is renewal season for almost 700 members of our nearly 850 membership. We’ve made a goal to get 100% renewals completed by the close of January. Dues remain at $35 (last increase was in late 2011). Our stretch goal is to get 100% participation in donations, any value you can contribute is very much appreciated. Already we have seen a couple of hundred renewals and many donations. “Thank you” to all for helping us toward our goal.  As a reminder, members who joined on or after 01 August have an annual subscription from the date they joined. For example, a new member who joined on 14 October 2018 will have a renewal date of 14 October 2019.

Membership dues are insufficient for the club to operate and develop new member programs. We have operational expenses like rents, class costs, infrastructure costs, promotional items, social events, Starfests, and more. We want to implement new programs like awarding younger students recognizing their talents, offer a spring outreach program that rivals the Autumn Starfest, more members only meet-ups, and telescope loan program for members. We are plan to replace several disparate systems and optimize the member experience with a more consolidated and integrated membership system which reduces laborious tasks and improves communications, event registration, and member interaction. Today, you have many choices to which you can devote your spare time and attention. In the past year you chose to share the experience with the AAA and help to continue and spread our passion. I hope you remain interested in supporting the club’s mission with your membership, participating in our events and activities, and contributing some of your expertise and time with our outreach events.

Winter Holiday Party

Register through Eventbrite, it helps to prepare properly for the number of people.

On 10 January 2019, starting around 6:30PM come hang out with the club at the Winter Holiday Social. We meet at Manhattan Proper on 6 Murray Street, nearby City Hall Manhattan. Similar to the Fall party, there will be food, raffles and prizes.  The turnout was fantastic  and we had a great time mingling, talking, playing games, and munching on snacks. I am looking forward to meeting up again.

Fall 2018 Social
Credit: Faissal Halim


Fall Social 2018
Credit: Faissal Halim

January Lecture APOD

The Astronomy Picture of the Day Lecture is one of the most popular of the season. This year Jerry Bonnell from NASA delivers a presentation reviewing photos curated during 2018. It can fill the Kaufmann Theater at American Museum of Natural History so be sure to come early to get a seat. It is customary to bring the guest speaker out to dinner after the event. There are as many as four extra seats and if you are a member, don’t mind paying for yourself, and would like to attend, please contact me or speak with one of the AAA event coordinators on site. If there is not enough room at the table with the speaker, we can make arrangements for a future lecture.


The AAA is responding to your needs by expanding its classes and instructors. Irene Pease has been working with David Kiefer to broaden the spectrum of topics that are of interest to our members. Through survey questions to existing students and reaching out directly to members, they have been collecting ideas and developing classes that align with those needs.  Enroll for a class today or contact [email protected] with any questions, express interest in a class topic.

On 9 January, Astronomy Smorgasbord begins. It offers an array of bite size topics, one for each of the six consecutive Wednesday classes, taught by an authoritative instructor of the subject (Irene, Miguel Fiolhais, Laird Whitehall, Artie Kunhardt, and Cecilia Almeida). Later in the month, Astronomy 101 begins on 22 January and runs six consecutive Tuesdays. This is a new class, taught by Irene, that covers the basics of astronomy by taking a brief tour of the universe. Near the end of January, registration opens for Physics in Astronomy, which begins on Wednesday, 20 February. In six classes, David surveys the key physics underlying astronomy like motion, light, spectra, temperature, and relativity.

Credit: Peter Tagatac

Board of Directors

Amy Wagner was recently elected to the AAA Board of Directors, filling a vacancy when Joe Delfausse resigned. We are grateful to Joe for the time and effort he has given to the club and we look forward to the energy, expertise, and ambition that Amy brings. In the recent solicitation for Director-candidates, the nominating committee and directors were very impressed with all who applied. It was a difficult decision to chose among the talent, skills, experience, and fresh ideas that each candidate offered. We believe that the club would benefit greatly with their support and hope they will stay engaged.

Otto Chin is the newest officer on the Board, serving as Membership Secretary. His duties include to grow, sustain, and improve the membership experience.

Telescope Loan Program for Members

Starting in next month’s Eyepiece. we will feature a new Telescope Loan Program column. In each issue, we keep track of the club’s scopes on loan so you know what we have in inventory and when one will become available. Our plan is to utilize the new member portal to provide realtime tracking and the ability to sign up or be placed on a waiting list for a telescope.

Not sure how to use a telescope? Well, we have a number of avid observers who may be able to get you started. Look for next month’s issue of Eyepiece with program details.

New Member Portal

This past month, the club has migrated from a do-it-yourself member platform to a Software-as-a Service platform. The new platform includes the membership management functions of the legacy platform we wish to replace: membership renewal (online or mail), magazine subscription discount forms, and change your password. The legacy platform had a forum function which was not adopted; the majority of users chose to communicate via the various Google Groups we have. The new system will have forum capability and the initial plan s to utilize it for classes. There is no push to move away from the Google Groups since most users find the listserv email function suitable for their needs.

As we implement new processes, we hope that the client smartphone app will be very useful to members for managing their user profiles, registering for events, keeping up to date with AAA activities, and receiving timely, pertinent communications. If the board decides to pursue this new platform, then details about the new processes will be communicated through the portal, on the website, and in future Eyepiece articles.

Motivations for the New Year

In wrapping up with a little levity, toy with some of these motivational thoughts to get you going on your New Year’s resolutions. These  posted all over the Internet as filler text, created by a version of an lorem ipsum word generator.

If you disregard this advice, you will be halfway there. Some people walk in the rain. Others just get wet. The difference between doers and dreamers is that the latter wait for the mood before taking action while the former create the mood by acting. Act, look, feel successful, conduct yourself accordingly, and you will be amazed at the positive results. Your self-beliefs either support or undermine you. The rung of a ladder was never meant to rest upon, but only to hold a mans foot long enough to enable him to put the other somewhat higher.

Nothing of great value in life comes easily. You cannot pick cherries with your back to the tree.  First we form habits, then they form us. Conquer your bad habits, or they will eventually conquer you. Quit now, you will never make it.
A thousand-mile journey begins with one step. Make the most of today. Translate your good intentions into actual deeds.Accept no ones definition of your life, but define yourself.

I hope you to see you soon at one of the events coming up this month.

All the best!