Behind the Scenes at AAA

Here’s a snapshot of some of the many things the AAA administration has been working on recently. The club is entirely run by volunteers who take time out of their hectic schedules to carry the torch for our organization. New volunteers are always welcome.

Observatory Working Group

AAA Public Observatory Project

“We must rise above the Earth— to the top of the atmosphere and beyond— for only thus will we fully understand the world in which we live.” ~ Socrates

In “A History of the First Forty Years of the Amateur Astronomers Association,” Patrick Rizzo wrote, “…The Hayden Planetarium was opened to the public on October 3, 1935. However, one dream never did materialize, an observatory on top of one of the Museum buildings. Yet, as a dream, who is to say it did not have positive value to members and potential members of the AAA?” In fact, there have been no less than five attempts in New York City to build a public observatory. And now AAA hopes, finally, to accomplish the task of building an observatory in New York City designed to expand on its tradition by bringing 21st century technology to all who are interested in the exploration and study of our solar system, and the more distant worlds that populate our universe!

The Observatory Working Group project includes site rights acquisition; design analysis for building a publicly accessible Astronomical Observatory in an ADA accessible manner; permitting process; financing; and construction. AAA has invested a good deal of time and effort to study the project, understand its implications, and ensure that the observatory can not only be properly sited and built, but maintained and used into the foreseeable future. Every aspect of site needs, program requirements, budgetary needs and financing strategy are being addressed. The timeline to complete the project depends primarily on two factors— city permit requirements and fundraising. This is expected to take two years or less. The timeline depends upon final site selection, and AAA has been fortunate to identify several sites with free land granted and full access. 

Any AAA member that wishes to volunteer with the Observatory Working Group should contact Bart Fried, the OWG project manager, at [email protected].

AAA Tech Committee

It’s been a busy few weeks for the tech committee! We hope you all had fun at the Happy Hour at the end of February— we really enjoyed mingling on Kumospace with you all, even though it was no substitute for meeting in real life. The main focus for the team over the past few weeks has been on the development of a new website— which is a significant undertaking— but one which we hope will transform the member experience for the better. If you’re interested in helping out and have experience with WordPress, AppScript (or other scripting languages) or other web technologies, and are able to give a few hours a week of your time, please reach out to [email protected].

Membership and Marketing Committees

We’ve now crossed the 700 barrier in active members. Let’s move up dramatically from there to many more of our fellow New Yorkers and beyond!
We have the opportunity to build on momentum from a number of exciting news fronts:
  1. Virtual Happy Hour Event, AAASky Podcast launch, new logo & related merch— now we can enjoy more topics of interest with AAASky and show our AAA spirit with a modern, cool logo on merch via Zazzle (thanks to our AWESOME Marketing Committee volunteers!)
  2. New York Public Library Telescopes Program for our members and general public— all you need is a library card and an awesome portable and easy goto refractor can be yours for two weeks at a time (thanks to Yui Hasegawa for leading this and the Outreach Committee, and to Mr. William Mellon Whetzel for his significant donations and pledge that launched this program!)
  3. New Website— get ready to be even more connected with your fellow AAA members (thanks to Cidney Hue!!! who is tackling that one single handedly with strong support from Parker Bossier and Martin Kemp in our Tech Committee). The new website will be much easier to navigate, visually more appealing and with significantly more functionality to increase and enhance the bonds of our curious cosmos oriented community!!!

If you are interested in helping our club grow, or have ideas for ways to improve our member experience, reach out to John Bills, the Membership Committee Chair, at [email protected]. If you want to get involved with some of the specific projects mentioned above or have experience in marketing, reach out to Naomi Cosman, the Marketing Committee Chair, at [email protected].

Eyepiece Committee

As always, the Eyepiece Committee has been busy with its recurring activities: editing submissions from our members, publishing our three monthly columns, compiling the newsletter, and coordinating with other branches of the club on various projects and articles (such as this one).

At the moment, Eyepiece needs dedicated volunteers who have experience with WordPress, writing, proofreading, image editing, and the solicitation of articles; OR people who have the time, discipline, and initiative to learn these skills. Volunteering for the publication is a valuable addition to any resume, and serious university students, among others, are encouraged to get involved. Email Alex Cosman, the Editor-in-Chief, at [email protected] for more info.