May 1, 2013

Amateur Astronomers Mark 50th Anniversary

The Amateur Astronomers Association of Princeton (AAAP) will celebrate its 50th anniversary on May 11, at 7:30 p.m. in Wolfensohn Hall on the campus of the the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) with a free public program entitled “Celebrating the Past, Inspiring the Future.”

Prominent scientists Freeman Dyson, IAS physicist, mathematician and long-time AAAP member; Princeton astrophysicists David Spergel and J. Richard Gott; and Harvard astronomer Lisa Kaltenegger will consider the question: “Is Anyone Else Out There?”

AAAP anticipates an engrossing discussion about the current research in astronomy and exobiology, and the possibilities of finding life elsewhere in the solar system, perhaps within our lifetime. If skies are clear, the evening will conclude with an observing party hosted by members of AAAP on the IAS grounds at 9 p.m.

Author Michael Lemonick; entrepreneur and ISS visitor Greg Olsen; and Rutgers astrophysicist Rachel Somerville, winner of the 2013 Dannie Heineman Prize for Astrophysics; will be among the friends of AAAP who will attend the event.

Robert Sanders and a small group of amateur astronomers formed AAAP in 1962 to support like-minded amateurs and promote observational astronomy to the general public. Since 1962, public interest in space has waxed and waned, but the association has always actively promoted astronomy and space exploration. Members have built two observatories, hosted over 400 lectures and 20 star parties, and undertaken thousands of hours of outreach at local schools and at our observatory in Washington Crossing State Park. Also, AAAP works to support events sponsored by the State Museum in Trenton like Super Science Saturday.

Currently, AAAP is planning a fully automated telescope and mount for remote astrophotography under a new dome at their Washington Crossing facility. AAAP’s 90 members include avid observers, armchair investigators, and complete novices. All share a common love of the night sky.

For more information, visit: AAAP web site: For the association’s newsletter, visit: