SDAA Monthly Programs

Come hang out with us every month and learn something new! SDAA programs feature a wide array of speakers who share their expertise on unique and intriguing astronomy-related topics. We hold most of our meetings virtually via Zoom on the third Wednesday of every month. The meetings start at 7PM and last about one hour. We meet in-person for the March and November meetings at the Mission Trails Regional Park Visitor Center. Programs start with a few key club announcements and include information tailored to our new club members. Our featured speaker follows as the main event. Try your luck at winning SDAA club stickers with the fun astronomy quiz that closes out every meeting. Attendees are encouraged to engage and ask questions after speaker presentations. If you miss a program, you can catch the recordings on the SDAA YouTube page.

Please register in advance for the Zoom meetings at the following link. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

To attend the March and November in-person meetings, head to the Mission Trails Regional Park Visitor Center at One Father Junipero Serra Trail, San Diego, CA 92119. The main gates into the park remain open for our evening meetings, however the Visitor Center doors are not unlocked until 6:30PM. Please drive through the gates and park in either of the two dirt parking lots adjacent to the Visitor Center Building. Once inside the building, head to the Auditorium. Park Rangers can be reached at 619-668-3281 and for more information visit

The SDAA Board welcomes your comments on our presentations! Please contact if you have suggestions for future program topics.

July 19, 2023 Program Meeting

Topic: Signs in the Heavens: A Muslim Astronomer’s Perspective on Religion and Science Speaker: Dr. Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad The talk is based on Dr. Ahmed’s book of the same name which reviews some of the scientific achievements of the golden era of Islamic civilization and some important achievements in astronomy. Islamic astronomy played a significant role in the revival of European astronomy following the early medieval period. The book…

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June 21, 2023 Program Meeting

Topic: Stellar Evolution and the Origin of Elements Speaker: Tim Thompson In-person at the Mission Trails Regional Park visitor center and online with Zoom. Tim will walk us through the history and physics of stellar evolution, starting with the big deal that everything we know about stars is derived from the light we see. Tim Thompson holds an MS degree in Physics and enjoyed a career at JPL…

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May 17, 2023 Program Meeting

Title: Focus on Palomar Observatory Speakers: Steve Flanders, Kin Searcy, others Palomar Observatory will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the dedication of the 200-inch Hale telescope on June 3, 2023. In commemoration, SDAA will focus on the history, construction, and science of the observatory and the iconic telescope that was the largest effective telescope in the world from its dedication until Keck in 1993. Although no longer the…

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April 19, 2023 Program Meeting

Topic: Dark Matter – Observational Evidence and Experimental Searches Speaker: Dr. Eric Cotner Dr. Eric Cotner is a  data scientist and theoretical astroparticle physicist. Dr. Cotner graduated from UCLA in 2018 with a PhD in physics under the mentorship of Alexander Kusenko. The focus of his research was exotic dark matter candidates formed from scalar condensates in the early universe, which includes Q-balls, boson stars, and primordial black holes. It…

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March 15, 2023 Program Meeting

HIRAX: A New Way to Study Hot Jupiters and Other Exoplanets.  Dr. Ashley Baker: Instrument Scientist and Research Associate in Astronomy with the Exoplanet Technology Laboratory at Caltech Optical Observatories. High-resolution Imager for Rapid Assessment of eXo-atmospheres (HIRAX) is a multi band instrument for rapid assessment of the spectrum of exoplanet atmospheres. This is a new high resolution instrument being developed for the Palomar 200-inch telescope that uses multiple…

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February 15, 2023 Program Meeting

Topic: The Wacky World of Exoplanets and How We Discover Them Speaker: Dennis Conti Dennis Conti is a retired telecommunications professional and an amateur astronomer with a strong interest in exoplanet research. In 2015, he founded the AAVSO’s Exoplanet Section and has continued as section leader since. Dennis is also on the board of the AAVSO. Exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) we now know come in all…

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November 16, 2022 Program Meeting

Topic: Astronomical Word Play Speaker: Dr. Richard Lederer Our speaker is the distinguished verbavore Dr. Richard Lederer, who is an American linguist, author, speaker, and teacher. He is best known for his books on the English language and on wordplay such as puns, oxymorons, and anagrams. He has been dubbed “the Wizard of Idiom,” “Attila the Pun,” and “Conan the Grammarian.” He will focus on astronomical terminology and…

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October 24, 2022 Program Meeting

October topic: Amateur Spectroscopy and the AAVSO Speaker: Dr. Steven Shore Dr. Shore is the Chief of the Observational Spectroscopy Section of the AAVSO and a professor at the University of Pisa. Dr Shore will give an introduction to spectroscopy and discuss a science case where amateurs can make a contribute to the science. Professional astronomers using large telescopes have limited resources and are willing to partner with amateurs for…

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September 21, 2022 Program Meeting

The September Topic is entitled “A Bird’s Eye View of the Universe” by Dr. Michael West. This is a fascinating talk about what the universe looks like on the largest scales. Dr. West is Deputy Director for Science at Lowell Observatory. He received a Ph.D. in astronomy from Yale University and held research, teaching, and leadership positions at universities and observatories on four continents before joining Lowell in…

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