Richmond Astronomical Society

Astronomy Day, Kent Blackwell in S&T and Goodbye to a Friend

May 13th, 2011 | By | Category: Blog

Solar observers, image courtesy of Ken Wilson

Astronomy Day 2011: Many many thanks to all who helped out with this year’s Astronomy Day at the Science Museum. We had a steady flow of interested and engaged visitors. The activities included our traditional water rockets, solar viewing, telescopes on display, telescope construction, video astronomy, “Touch-a-meteorite,” indoor air pressure rockets and our roving astronaut.  In addition we had a meteorite collection on display, lots of astronomy information on hand and our RAS image display along with the Science Museum’s portable planetarium, Science on a Sphere and scale model solar system.

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Betty Wilson with her meteorite collection, image courtesy of Ken Wilson

Thanks to Prashant Reddy for coordinating and thanks to all the volunteers, including Jim Blowers, Gary Cowardin, Kathy Fatyga, George Hastings, Jane Hastings, Russ Hummel, Pernel Johnson, Mark and Sydney Mabry, John Raymond, Phil Roberts, Dan Salkovitz, Randy Tatum, Betty Wilson and Ken Wilson.  Thanks also to Leslie Bochenski and David Hagan with the Science Museum for coordinating the venue and to the Science Museum volunteers.  We simply could not have done it without all of the support from our members and friends!

Just a quick note of thanks also for all the help with our regular meeting presentations and with skywatches.  We have already had a busy year so far and our volunteer astronomers have been out in force, sharing their expertise and telescopes with our members and with lots of interested folks.  Thanks many times over from me and on behalf of the RAS.  I know that there are those among our members who also do skywatches and presentations on their own for various groups and they still find time to help with RAS events as well.  This just goes to show what a dedicated team of astronomers we have.
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Main observing field at the East Coast Star Party

Kent Blackwell in print: I had never seen Kent Blackwell in a coat and tie until I looked in my June issue of Sky and Telescope and there he was staring back at me.  I hardly recognized him. His article is about galaxies near brighter stars.  These objects may be easy to find because of their proximity to stars, but can be hard to see. It’s a great article and definitely worth a read. For those that may not know, Kent is the organizer of the East Coast Star Party, held once or twice a year at Coinjock, NC. The next party is scheduled for June 2 – 4. The exact location is the Hampton Lodge Camping Resort, approximately 45 miles south of the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area. Driving south on US 158, cross the Joseph Palmer Knapp Bridge at Coinjock. Turn left at the foot of bridge toward Waterlilly. The campground is approximately 7 miles down Waterlilly Road – look for “Telescopes” sign.  There is no need to register ahead of time, but if you need additional information, the campground number is (252-453-2732) and Kent may be contacted at kent@exis.net.  Be sure to congratulate Kent on his article – maybe you can get his autograph at the East Coast Star Party if you can get past the paparazzi!
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The Back Bay Astronomers were also mentioned in Astronomy magazine regarding their participation in the Mt. Trashmore Star Party on April 15. Ted Forte provided the report.  Our compliments to the Back Bay Astronomers on such a great outreach event.  Nice job!
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Goodbye to a friend: For those that may not know, Jerry Zaun passed away on April 28. Jerry had been a member of the RAS for a number of years and was an accomplished telescope builder and photographer. Although I knew him primarily as an astronomer, I learned at his memorial service that he was involved in lots of other activities over the years.  He was the sort of person that explored all kinds of new areas of interest and learned each one by throwing himself into it 100%.  Jerry was always a lot of fun to observe with and was never shy about sharing his hobby and his expertise with other observers.  We’ll miss him..

 

Observing sessions at scout camp:  Tim Streagle has very kindly scheduled observing sessions for RAS members and friends at the Heart of Virginia Scout Reservation in Goochland throughout 2011 on the following dates (which are also listed on the RAS calendar):

June 4
July 2
Aug 27
Sep 24
Oct 29
Nov. 18-19 (Central Va Family Stargaze, star party hosted by the Scout Reservation, open to the public)
Dec. 17

Directions to the camp are here.  One you enter the reservation, take an immediate right turn into the Cub Adventure Camp, drive about 0.1 mile and turn right at a brown sign with a picture of a telescope on it.  The observing field is at the top of the hill.
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Star party documentary: I recently saw a link on one of the astro forums to a nice documentary about star parties, called, appropriately enough, “Star Party.”  It’s a few years old, but very well done.  Here is the link:
http://vimeo.com/10611908 and embedded below:

Star Party – A Documentary from Chris Rock on Vimeo.

 

Upcoming RAS events:

  • RAS Board of Directors meeting – May 16, 7:00 PM at Extra Billy’s Restaurant on West Broad St.
  • Science Museum Skywatch – May 20
  • Skywatch at City Point – May 21 (please contact John Raymond at raymond7419@verizon.net if you can bring a scope)
  • Next regular RAS meeting – June 14
  • Science Museum SkyDay Night (special evening event with a skywatch) – July 15
  • Science Museum – live chat with NASA astronauts from the Space Station – August 18
  • Skyday Night activities will be indoors and Skywatch outside.  Should be larger than average crowds for Skywatch.
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Image by Nick Risinger, skysurvey.org, Creative Commons license 3.0

SkySurvey.org:  An unbelievable composite  image of the Milky Way has been generated by photographer Nick Risinger.  He traveled around the world to obtain the best vantage points for his 37,440 exposures and stitched them together to create a beautiful interactive image of the night sky.  Highly recommended.

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Regards,

Jim Browder
Richmond Astronomical Society

 

 

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