Behind the Podcast


Malyika Jackson
New co-host!

Maggie Machinsky
Co-host and photographer

Kat Troche
Co-host and outreach expert

Stanley Fertig
Co-host and astronomy enthusiast

Irene Pease
Co-host and former AAA President


Preston Stahly
Producer and Composer

Parker Bossier
Technical Producer

Website & Photo Credits


Brian Berg
AAA President

Kelly Elivo
Marketing Committee Chair

John Bills
Chairman of the Board

Malyika Jackson – Co-host

Introducing MJ, the newest co-host of the Amateur Astronomers Association podcast! As a brand new “New Yorker” with just one year under her belt in the city that never sleeps, she’s excited to explore the cosmos with fellow astronomy enthusiasts. 

MJ joined the Amateur Astronomers Association last year to learn more about the mysteries of the universe, and has been fascinated ever since. Her degree in broadcast mass communications and experience as a journalism intern at NPR and Newsday gave her a keen sense of storytelling and a talent for presenting concepts in an accessible way. As a self-taught programmer, level 2 PADI certified scuba diver, and animal advocate, MJ is always looking to explore the intersection of technology, nature, and social responsibility.

She volunteers her free time to the ASPCA and other animal welfare organizations and has even experimented with hydroponic gardening in her New York City apartment. You can often find MJ attending Neil deGrasse Tyson lectures, exploring coral reefs, or advocating for animal rights. Join her and the Amateur Astronomers Association as they explore the cosmos and the many ways in which our world is interconnected!

Maggie Machinsky – Co-host

Machinsky is a self-taught, semi-pro photographer and full-time civil engineer based in New York City. She is a graduate of Penn State University, an avid traveler, PADI certified scuba diver, and an active member of the Amateur Astronomers Association.

Her work has been published by National Geographic, and featured by Nikon as part of their 100th anniversary campaign, as well as The World At Night (TWAN), which was founded by National Geographic photographer Babak Tafreshi.

Client list includes Lockheed Martin, chief executive officers of fortune 100 companies, and a retired Navy SEAL Vice Admiral.

Kat Troche – Co-host

Katherine Troche is a Brooklyn, NY native, NASA Solar System Ambassador, and operates under the moniker Kuiper Kat in New York, NY.

Through volunteer initiatives, Katherine conducts astronomy-related outreach via social media, public observing (sidewalk astronomy), and for various organizations and institutions throughout the five boroughs. An Amateur Astronomers Association member since 2012, Katherine spends her time co-chairing the Observing Committee and as Editor-In-Chief of the AAA newsletter, Eyepiece.

Stanley Fertig

Stanley Fertig – Co-host

Stanley Fertig is Co-Host of AAA SKY. His multifaceted career encompasses stints as an entertainment executive, finance professional and educator. As a TimeWarner executive, he launched numerous international television and related media ventures for multiple divisions of the entertainment company, including VIVA and Hamburg-1 in Germany, Channel [V] in Asia, Z+ in Hungary, HBO Netherlands and HBO Nordic, the latter being the precursor to the U.S.-based HBO Now. Prior to his entertainment career, Stanley was CFO of Media Content plc, a publicly-traded sports agency in London, and before that, a partner in Cheverny Associates, an international M&A firm, and a portfolio manager at Prudential Insurance. His early career includes teaching as Assistant Professor of French Civilization at the University of Texas-Austin and previously, as Teaching Fellow at Harvard.

Astronomy has been Stanley’s passion since he first learned to read. He is a regular contributing writer to and former editor-in-chief of the AAA’s Eyepiece newsletter, and can be seen at various outreach events around the city, sharing his telescope and his love of the sky with the public. Stanley holds an MBA from the Yale School of Management, and a PhD from Harvard University. He and his wife live in Brooklyn.

Irene Pease – Co-host

In another time, Irene Pease shared views through her telescope with her fellow New Yorkers on busy sidewalks and under darker skies in Prospect Park as their Friendly Neighborhood Astronomer, but now hosts a weekly livestream tour of the night skies and local universe. She is producer of the Hayden Planetarium video blog, Skylight, a co-host and frequent presenter for Astronomy on Tap NYC, and the pilot of Hayden Planetarium’s Zeiss Mark IX Universarium. Irene is a past President of AAA, and continues to teach classes for AAA and volunteer with other outreach initiatives.

Irene has a degree in Physics from the University of Arizona, where she briefly studied accretion disks around binary pulsars. While living in Tucson, she built her first telescope and worked at multiple observatories in the area as a telescope operator, plane-spotter, and assistant technician. She has since been a professional amateur astronomer, astrophysics educator, and Mad Scientist. Irene currently teaches physics at York College CUNY and Yeshivah of Flatbush Joel Braverman High School.

Preston Stahly – Audio Editing and Original Music

Preston Stahly is an award-winning composer and producer in New York City. He has written chamber, vocal, and symphonic works, and has also written music for film (Robert Altman’s Secret Honor) and television (the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Children’s Television Workshop) and full-dome planetariums (Reuben Fleet Science Center in San Diego). His concert works focus on acoustic and electro-acoustic techniques with a wide variety of instrumentation ranging from solo and chamber works to film and video.

He is a co-founder of the Tribeca New Music Festival from its inception in 2001, and spearheaded the Avant Pop movement in NYC, focusing on a new classical music infused with American pop culture. Preston is currently the artistic and executive director of Tribeca New Music, Inc., and is an Artist in Residence at Nancy Manocherian’s – The Cell theater in New York City. He shares a passion for astrophotography and has been a AAA member since 2016. For more info:, [email protected]

Brian Berg — AAA President

Brian Berg has traveled to over 75 countries, lived with nomads in Mongolia, climbed Kilimanjaro, raised funds for orphans in Cambodia, and met with astrophysicists in the Atacama desert of Chile. He is an active real estate investor, advises banks on how to be regulatorily compliant, is a professor, runs a blog –, plays football every week (even though his body is getting a bit creaky), and is President of AAA.

And Brian could not be more proud than to help spread the word of science.

Parker Bossier — Technical Producer

Parker Bossier writes software by day, collects distant photons by clear night, and works on various AAA projects by cloudy night. A New Orleanian at heart, Parker followed his wife to NYC for Parsons, and ended up finding this outstanding organization. He finds few things better than listening to an astronomy podcast whilst capturing the beautiful night sky.

Find him on IG @parkerbossier and at

John Bills — AAA Chairman of the Board

John Bills is the Chairman of the Board of the Amateur Astronomers Association. A nuclear engineer by training, he originally joined the navy with the intent of becoming a naval aviator and eventually an astronaut. Instead, he found himself under the sea for four years as a submarine officer leading a crew of 100. Nevertheless, his love of the sky would not be denied, and he purchased several telescopes and joined the AAA several years ago, eventually joining our Board. This past year John was elected Chairman of the AAA, enabling him to bring his vision to bear, to the benefit of the club. By day John is an investment banker and Managing Director at Cantor Fitzgerald. At night John is an avid astrophotographer and very active in the AAA’s Astrophotography group. John is a Chartered Financial Analyst and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School. He and his family live in Manhattan.


Cidney Hue
Website Designer
Maury Lefkowitz
Logo Designer


All photos on this site were taken by AAA members. AAA members have access to incredible astronomy & astrophotography classes taught by leading experts in the industry. Join today and gain access to a passionate community of amateur astronomers & astrophotographers!

An orange moon behind the NYC skyline, centered on Freedom Tower

Manhattan Moonrise by Stan Honda

The orange moon rising behind the Freedom Tower. This stunning photo by Stan Honda featured on our homepage and as our podcast cover was also an APOD in 2017.

Crescent Moon over Statue of Liberty by John Bills

Statue of Liberty by John Bills

The Crescent Moon over Statue of Liberty from Battery Park captured by John Bills, Board Chairmen of AAA.

Crescent Moon Venus Regulus Conjunction over Empire State Building by John Bills

Empire State Building by John Bills

Crescent Moon, Venus & Regulus Conjunction over the Empire State Building from Gantry Park captured by John Bills

Moon by Parker Bossier

The Moon captured by Parker Bossier. Check out Parker's Instagram @parkerbossier for more astrophotography.

The Andromeda Galaxy

M31 by Parker Bossier

The Andromeda Galaxy captured by Parker Bossier. Check out Parker's Instagram @parkerbossier for more astrophotography.

Moonset photo by Preston Stahly

Palisades Moonset by Preston Stahly

Moonset photo taken in Manhattan from West Harlem. It’s a shot of a landmark house on the Palisade cliffs along the Hudson River.


AAA SKY New York Theme by Preston Stahly