Richmond Astronomical Society



    News flash!  RAS member Tyler Hutchison was awarded the Jack Horkheimer/D’Auria Youth Service Award by the Astronomical League.
    The next RAS monthly meeting will be held on Tuesday, August 14, 7:30 PM at the Science Museum of Virginia.  Mike Lico is our presenter for the month and the title of his talk will be “Gravitational Waves – Part II: The Neutron Stars Strike Back!”
    Please join us for the meeting and, if you can, for dinner before the meeting at Chicken Fiesta, across the street from the Museum, about 6:00 PM.
    .RAS upcoming events are here and star party info is here..
    The 2018 meeting of the Virginia Association of Astronomical Societies will be held on Saturday, September 29 at Randolph Macon College.  Please save the date!


Staunton River Star Party


The Staunton River Star Party this past March was another hit.  The weather was good with some pretty brisk winds during a couple of the days and reasonably clear nights with some clouds moving through.  As usual, our hosts were incredibly gracious.  The park staff and CHAOS (the Chapel Hill Astronomical and Observational Society) made sure we were well taken care of and well fed.


Below is a link to some time-lapse images of the event for your enjoyment.  Click on the image to view the video or watch on YouTube here.


East Coast Star Party–Endurance Test

ECSP observing field

Clouds, clouds, and more clouds. ECSP, sponsored by Kent Blackwell, ran from Thursday 10/12 to Saturday 10/14, but it was cloudy every night. For those who could stay one more day, Sunday turned out to be the redeeming factor. It was clear, but oh, the result of hitting the dew point was almost as bad as the rain. Caught without a heater, I dewed up in about an hour but everyone else was going strong through about 4 am.


2017 Solar eclipse at SMV

Was it an eclipse watch or a concert?

We’ve had some pretty large crowds at the SMV, but Aug. 21 of 2017 was one of the largest I’ve seen. Since we gave away 750 pairs of eclipse glasses, I’m estimating we had at least 800 people there. As you can see from the pictures here and below, it was pretty much standing room only. Since the eclipse started around 1:30, it was perfect that the SMV had arranged for several food trucks to be there, too.

Richmond only saw 86% of a total eclipse, but it was pretty dramatic, anyway.


Use Nextdoor app to arrange a neighborhood skywatch

I used an app called Nextdoor last Saturday night to announce a skywatch that I wanted to hold at my local high school. The tennis courts at the school are perfect, because there aren’t any parking lot lights in sight. And the webbing they have up on the surrounding fence almost completely eliminates the glare from outside lights on the building itself.

I put up my post at 4 pm for an 8:30 observing time, and got 4-5 responses. I did it with short notice on purpose, because I didn’t want hundreds of people showing up. I ended up having about 15 people and we had a great time. Most of them told me they loved the idea and hoped I would do it again. I also got some responses the next day from people who didn’t see the post in time, and expressed that they hoped I would do it again. I was ecstatic that half the audience were teen age and younger.


Skywatch at Tomahawk Baptist Church

Ray Moody and I (Terry) had a good crowd at Tomahawk Baptist Church last Friday (8/4) evening, and in spite of being alongside very busy Hull Street, we had a great time viewing the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, and Albireo (double star). I’m estimating about 60-70 kids and parents were there, celebrating the end of their Vacation Bible School.

We were even treated to hot dogs, brownies, and a gift card to Burger Bach. Outstanding.

Nice Thank You letter from SPBC skywatch

I received this email after helping St. Paul Baptist Church host a skywatch in July. They were a great bunch, and we had a good time viewing Jupiter, the Moon, and some double stars. And I was surprised and pleased to see Tiffany and Joyceline at the last SMV skywatch–now, that’s staying in touch.

Hi Terry,

We wanted to send you a heartfelt thank-you for your support of our Skywatching party in late June.  We appreciate your patience and assistance in sharing your telescope and knowledge with our Saint Paul’s family.  We received lots of positive feedback on the skywatching party and the kids amazement in peering at the planets and stars.  Thank you for being a part of this and exposing our youth to astronomy.  Thanks again!

Tiffany C. Owens
System Safety Engineer
Naval Surface Warfare Center- Dahlgren/ CDSA Dam Neck

And a Big Thank You from me too.

Josey-Harris, Joycelyn F CIV NSWCDD, V33

Skywatch at Short Pump Middle School

What a good group of kids–we had about 60 students and parents show up for the Short Pump Middle School skywatch. We started off in the auditorium with Madhup Rathi showed an astronomy slide show, and then we headed out behind the school to a fairly dark sky. Amazing–we could even see the big dipper eventually. We treated the kids to views of the Moon, Jupiter, Mizar and a small double star called 24 Coma Berenices, which has a very nice color contrast.

Chesterfield County skywatch

Here’s an alternate use for a soccer field–Terry Barker led a Chesterfield County skywatch for about 20 people on April 28, at the Woodlake Athletic Complex (behind Clover Hill Elementary). The sky was pretty bright, but the Moon, Jupiter, and Mizar were easy targets. Information to sign up is shown below.