Joshua Winn, PhD

Joshua Winn, PhD

Professor of Astrophysical Sciences
and Director of Graduate Studies,
Princeton University

Exoplanets: Science and Science Fiction

Hybrid, In-Person at Peyton Hall, Princeton and Online on Zoom

December 13, 2022

7:30 p.m.

AAAP Revisits Peyton Hall on the Campus of Princeton University
The December 2022 meeting of the AAAP will take place IN PERSON on Tuesday, December 13th at 7:30 PM. As usual, the meeting is open to AAAP members and the public.

Hybrid Meeting
You may choose to attend the meeting in person or participate via Zoom or YouTube as we’ve been doing for the past few years. (See How to Participate below for details). Participants who choose to participate virtually will be able to log in to the meeting as early as 7:00 pm to chat informally with others who log in early. We’ve had some security concerns during a past broadcast, so we’re re-instituting the Zoom waiting room. Please be patient for the host to recognize you and grant you entry into the meeting. Be aware that you must unmute yourself to be heard by other participants.

For the Q&A session, you may ask your question using Zoom’s chat feature or you may unmute yourself and ask your question directly to the speaker. To address background noise issues, we are going to follow the rules in the table below regarding audio. If you are not speaking, please remember to mute yourself. You are encouraged, but not required, to turn your video on.

Director Rex Parker will be out of town (out of the country, in fact) for December’s meeting, so Assistant Director Larry Kane will guide the meeting.

December Meeting Agenda

Getting to Peyton Hall
The parking lots across the street (Ivy Lane) from Peyton Hall are now construction sites, unavailable for parking. We’ve been advised by the administration of the astrophysics department that we should park in the new enclosed parking garage off Fitzrandolph street and walk around the stadium and athletic fields. Here’s a map of the campus and walking routes from the parking garage to Peyton Hall. The map shows the recently completed East Garage. Not shown is an access road Sweet Gum that connects from Faculty Road to an entrance at the lower left corner of the garage. Stadium Road connects from Fitzrandolph Road to another entrance at the opposite corner (and higher level) of the garage.


Recent reconnaissance visits to campus show that the walk from the parking garage to Peyton Hall takes about 15 minutes. We will post small signs marking the path.

“Meet the Speaker” dinners
Along with our return to Peyton Hall, we are re-instituting our “Meet the Speaker” dinners at Winberie’s Restaurant & Bar at One Palmer Square. We have a standing reservation for meeting nights at 5:45 pm. Please contact Victor Davis if you are planning to attend.

Exoplanets: Science and Science Fiction
For centuries, people have wondered whether the stars in the sky harbor planets of their own. Astronomers began discovering such "exoplanets" in the 1990s, and by this point, more than 6,000 are known. One reason to study exoplanets is to learn about the process of planet formation; another is to seek planets that might be suitable for life as we know it. This presentation will concentrate on a less scientific reason: to try 'confirming' science fiction. Does the universe really contain lava-covered planets, planets with two Suns, planets near black holes, and other worlds familiar from science fiction?

Joshua Winn, PhD
Josh Winn's research goals are to explore the properties of planets around other stars, understand how planets form and evolve, and make progress on the age-old question of whether there are other planets capable of supporting life. His group uses optical and infrared telescopes to study exoplanetary systems, especially those in which the star and planet eclipse one another. He was a Participating Scientist in the NASA Kepler team and is a Co-Investigator and Architect of the ongoing Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite mission. Over the years, he and his group have also pursued topics in stellar astronomy, tidal evolution, planetary dynamics, radio interferometry, gravitational lensing, and photonic bandgap materials.

How to Participate

For Zoom
Topic: AAAP December Meeting-Dr. Joshua Winn of Princeton will speak on “Exoplanets: Science and Science Fiction.”
Time: Dec 13, 2022 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Use the following link to join the Zoom meeting:
Meeting ID: 837 2225 9102
Passcode: 887836

NOTE: The Zoom site has many training videos. If you’re unsure how Zoom works you might want to view the videos on how to join a meeting or how to check your computer’s audio and video before the meeting.

AAAP webcast:   This month’s AAAP meeting will be webcast live on YouTube and recorded for subsequent public access on AAAP’s YouTube channel. Be aware that your interactions during this segment, including questions to our guest speaker, may be recorded for posterity.

YouTube Link: Amateur Astronomers Association of Princeton, December 13, 2022 Meeting, 7:30 PM EST

This session will be recorded and saved on YouTube. Send me an email at if you have any concerns.

There is no “Unjournal Club” presentation scheduled this month. As you may know, guest speakers receive a baseball cap with the AAAP logo embroidered upon it as a “thank you” for making a presentation to us. We’re expanding the hat giveaway to members who contribute an “Unjournal Club” presentation to encourage participation.

We hope to make these short presentations a regular feature of our monthly meetings. We’d like to know what members are doing or what members are thinking about in the broad range of topics encompassed by astronomy. A brief ten-minute (or so) presentation is a good way to introduce yourself and the topics you care about to other club members. If you are interested in presenting a topic of interest, please contact either or

January 10, 2023, Virtual meeting Alyssa Pagan, Space Telescope Science Institute. Alyssa works to process the JWST images that have been leaving us sockless. She’ll talk about JWST and her work turning its data into images. This meeting will be virtual only, while renovations to Peyton Hall’s lecture hall are completed.
February 14, 2023 Jenny Greene, Princeton University Professor of Astrophysics. Jenny recently wrote an article on middleweight black holes for Sky & Telescope.
March 14, 2023 Joe DePasquale, Space Telescope Science Institute. Joe is Senior Data Imaging Developer in the Office of Public Outreach at the Space Telescope Science Institute. A colleague of Alyssa’s, Joe will describe his work turning JWST data into images.
April 11, 2023Ira Polans, former Program Chair of AAAP, will present “Sun Dagger” film and talk about indigenous people of New Mexico. Rising nearly 400 feet above the desert floor in a remote section of ancient Anasazi territory in New Mexico is a sacred Native American site that a thousand years ago revealed the changing seasons to Anasazi astronomers. Note that this film is solely for viewing by in-person members, as copyright restrictions will not permit broadcasting it on the internet.
May 9, 2023Gary Rendsburg, Distinguished Professor of Jewish Studies and History at Rutgers, will talk about “The Jewish Calendar,” with emphasis on its astronomical connections to lunar months, intercalated month to adjust to the solar year, festival days, and new moon observances.
June 13, 2023 Bill Murray, AAAP’s Outreach Director and staffer at NJ State Museum planetarium. Bill will give his traditional planetarium show at the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton.

As always, members’ comments and suggestions are gratefully accepted and much appreciated.