Richmond Astronomical Society

Comet Garradd and Thanks for Last Month’s Meeting

Jul 31st, 2011 | By | Category: Blog

Many thanks:  Thanks to Isaac Steincamp and Dave Medici for a great meeting last month. Isaac recounted his experience at the Advanced Teen Astronomy Camp at Kitt Peak National Observatory and Dave entertained and educated us a with a game of Astro-Jeopardy. Based on Isaac’s description, I wish that camp had been around when I was a kid (as it turns out though, I am older than Kitt Peak Observatory – oh well). Dave’s Astro-Jeopardy game was lots of fun and a great way to review your basic (and not-so-basic) astronomy.


Comet Garradd Path from

Comet Garradd:  Tim Streagle and I got  a nice look at c/2009 p1 Garradd through a 9.25 SCT with an image intensifier attached.  The comet was small and bright with some asymmetry that appeared to be the start of a tail. The comet is predicted to become visible to the unaided eye in the coming months.  A map of the comet’s path is available here in Astronomy magazine and an image by Pat Pinnell of Franklin County, Missouri appears here. Tim and I did not take any images of the comet, but it would have made a decent imaging target.



Astronomy Day 2011 (image courtesy of Ken Wilson)

Upcoming events:  Our fall picnic is scheduled for September 17, 2011 at the Heart of Virginia Scout Reservation in Goochland.  This is the same location where we had last year’s fall picnic.  The Scout Reservation is an excellent location with convenient picnic facilities, restrooms, electricity and, lest we forget, a nice dark sky.  With the last quarter moon of September 17, we should have a good opportunity to view and/or image a number of deep sky objects visible in autumn sky. We hope everyone can join us.





Thanks to Tim Streagle, ranger at the camp, we also have the following observing session dates scheduled for members and friends of RAS:

  • 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 and here in Google Maps.  The observing sessions are held in a field not far from the entrance to the Cub Adventure Camp. Once 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.  Please note that anyone under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian in order to comply with camp rules.


A Dark Skies, Bright Kids Mascot

Dark Skies, Bright Kids:  Last year several astronomy graduate students from UVA with the Dark Skies, Bright Kids program spoke at one of our RAS meetings. They described the work they do with elementary school children in which they use astronomy to inspire and nurture an interest in science and to illustrate to students that science is a fun, creative, and exciting process.

At the meeting we expressed our general support for the program and appreciation for what the students were doing. Well we now have an opportunity to further support their efforts. On August 19th they are planning a community event at the Red Hill Elementary school south of Charlottesville as a way of raising awareness of the program. They are hoping for a large turn-out and have invited some local officials.

They have enlisted the support of the Charlottesville Astronomical Society, but Ryan Lynch, who was one of the graduate students that represented the program at our meeting last year, has also asked if astronomers from the Richmond Astronomical Society would be interested in bringing a few additional scopes in case there is a large turn-out for the event.

We have our regular monthly skywatch at the Science Museum of Virginia on August 19th and we certainly want to provide sufficient support for that event, but if any astronomers are interested in traveling to Charlottesville to support the Dark Skies, Bright Kids special event, please let me know at

The Dark Skies, Bright Kids program does some really worthwhile work and the graduate students supporting the program put a lot of their personal time into it. Thanks for any support you can provide to the program either at this event or in some way in the future.

. Main Page  Don’t know if anyone has seen this, but is pretty cool. It’s a fill sky interactive map with quick links to detailed astronomical object information – similar to Google Sky, but with access to much more detailed information. Worth a look at




RAS blog entries, news items or events:  If anyone has astronomy/space science news items or events they would like posted, please pass them along to and I will be glad to send them out or include them in a blog entry.  Also, our new members may not know about the Richastro Yahoo group, which you can join at this link.

Don’t forget our next meeting on August 9!




Jim Browder
Richmond Astronomical Society 


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