Richmond Astronomical Society

    News

    RAS participated in a special observing session for Governor McAuliffe, his family, and staff at Staunton River State Park. The Governor dedicated the observing field as a Dark Sky Observation Area. More here.

    Our next monthly meeting will be on Tuesday, June 13, 7:30 PM at the Science Museum of Virginia.  Mike Lico will present on the Apollo 1 accident in honor of the 50th anniversary of the tragedy.  We will also have another in our series of astrophotography tips. 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 news and upcoming events listed here!
    S
    tar party information here.

    Many thanks to the RAS and SMV volunteers  who all contributed to a great Astronomy Day event!

Events

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.

RAS presents STEM Fair awards

Here’s an interesting idea–to avoid radiation danger to astronauts during space travel, shield them by scooping out a hole in an asteroid and place them in there. That’s exactly the point of Naren Kasinath’s science fair project this year. Every year, RAS (Richmond Astronomical Society) seeks out projects just like this, and others that relate to astronomy and space science.
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Skywatch at Matoaca Middle

We had a great crowd of about 50-60 students and parents, last night, March 2, with a perfect night for star gazing. Ray Moody, Madhup Rathi, and myself (Terry Barker) used our telescopes to show off the Moon, Venus M42, and a few double stars. We started off inside the school, where Madhup gave a Powerpoint presentation of what we were going to be looking at. This gave the kids something to anticipate before heading outside.

 

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Skywatch at Midlothian High

Around 20 students and parents enjoyed the night sky on Dec. 1, using my (Terry Barker) telescope to to view the Moon, Pleiades, and double stars Albireo and Zeta Lyra. And we saw a great pass of the ISS passing almost directly overhead. As you can imagine, the sky in Midlothian is pretty muddy with light pollution, so there wasn’t much point in looking for the Andromeda Galaxy or other fainter objects. But, it was worth the trip when one young man shouted out his amazement at seeing the magnified Moon as soon as we started. I need to hire him for my next sky watch.

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Belmead Update

Belmead update – good news / bad news:  The bad news is that the Belmead property is now officially on the market and this situation jeopardizes long-term continuation of our observing at Belmead and our outreach facility there, not to mention preservation of the property in general.  The good news is that a new non-profit organization, aptly named “Belmead on the James, Inc.,”  committed to preservation of the property, has been created and is planning to submit a bid for purchase of the property. However, they need our help along with help from all those interested in preserving this valuable, historic and dark sky site in Powhatan County.  A November 1 press release about the organization is here.
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Belmead once existed as a place of human enslavement and was transformed in the 1890’s into a place of empowerment and education.  With the right amount of support, Belmead will continue to exist as a model of land stewardship, agriculture, equestrian activity, a living history museum and as a place of environmental education and preservation.  It will also serve as a place that offers astronomers a respite from urban lights where we can observe, image and share views of night sky wonders through our outreach education efforts.  The Belmead on the James organization is planning to submit a proposal to purchase, preserve and manage the property in a way that is compatible with this vision for the future of Belmead.
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To make this happen and to ensure that their proposal is credible and competitive, Belmead on the James needs to raise $400,000 by December 1.  They have asked 4,000 of their supporters to donate $100 each to reach this goal.  If you can help Belmead on the James preserve this important property along with its history, its environment and its dark skies, please do so. Preservation of this important site will benefit a number of varied interests, including local amateur astronomy and science education.  You can donate or learn more about Belmead on the James at http://www.belmeadonthejames.com/donate.

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Non-profit kicks-off campaign to raise $400,000 to purchase historic Belmead on the James.
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POWHATAN, VIRGINIA November 1, 2016 – The newly formed nonprofit Belmead on the James, Inc. today launched a major campaign to raise $400,000 towards the purchase of the Belmead property in Powhatan, Virginia from the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament (SBS). The 2,265-acre property is the site where St. Emma Military Academy and St. Francis de Sales High School, established by Louise Drexel Morrell and Saint Katharine Drexel respectively, operated from 1895 to 1972 and educated over 15,000 African American youth. On May 3, 2016, the SBS announced their intention to sell Belmead, and on October 26, 2016 the property was officially placed on the market.

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Glow

The RAS skywatch scheduled for October 21 at the Science Museum of Virginia was canceled due to clouds.  However, the less-than-favorable observing weather provided an opportunity for RAS astronomers on site to take in the Science Museum’s “Glow” event where we experienced lots of great displays including a Bernoulli blast of ping pong balls, resonant pendulums, lots of fluorescence and even fire dancers from the very proficient Circular Expressions dance troupe! The Science Museum did an excellent job with the event. Below is a short video. (more…)