Richmond Astronomical Society

A Well-Protected Library and Lots of Fall Events

Oct 24th, 2010 | By | Category: Blog

Thanks to Wayne Boggs and Richmond Alarm Company: As most of you reading this already know, it became necessary earlier this year to find a new location for our library volumes.  After we searched around quite a bit for an appropriate location and debated the various approaches for managing the library, Ken Wilson contacted RAS member and former president, Wayne Boggs, about the possibility of storing the books at the new Richmond Alarm Company facility.  Wayne came to our rescue and very graciously offered to store the books in his new warehouse attached to the Richmond Alarm Company offices near Route 288 and Midlothian Turnpike.  The facility is climate controlled, convenient and Wayne and his staff could not have been more helpful in allowing us to store our volumes there and to periodically allow our Librarian, Virginia Eckert, to access them as members check out and return books.

So, many thanks to Wayne for hosting our library.  Richmond Alarm has been providing security systems in the area since 1947, which is two years prior to the founding of the Richmond Astronomical Society.  You can learn more about Richmond Alarm and the products and services they offer at

Thanks Wayne – we appreciate the help!

RAS Board of Directors: This is the time of year when we elect a new slate of directors for our organization.  Directors commit to making arrangements for a presentation at one of our regular monthly meetings and to attend four quarterly board meetings during the year.  We very much appreciate the support that our directors have provided throughout 2010 and also appreciate those who have volunteered to be on the board for 2011.  We could not do what we do without you.

Many thanks to our 2010 board members, John Barnett, Jim Blowers, Jim Browder, Gary Cowardin, Bill Jeffries, Chris McCann, David Medici, Jeff Pike, Prashant Reddy, Tim Streagle, Betty Wilson and Ken Wilson.

And many thanks as well to our 2011 nominees, John Barnett, Jim Blowers, Jim Browder, Gary Cowardin, Chris McCann, David Medici, Jeff Pike, Cal Pletcher, Prashant Reddy, Betty Wilson and Ken Wilson.

Annual Dues: Annual dues are due and should be given to Jim Blowers at one of the meetings or by US mail or  by PayPal at  Regular membership is $30.  Observatory memberships and discounted magazine subscriptions to Astronomy and Sky and Telescope are available for additional amounts.

VAAS 2010 Meeting: The 2010 meeting of the Virginia Association of Astronomical Societies was hit.  It was held this year in Salem at Roanoke College and was jointly hosted by the Roanoke Valley Astronomical Society and the College’s Department of Mathematics, Computer Science and Physics.  The facility was  convenient and comfortable.  About 70 – 80 folks attended by my estimation.  Presenters included James Thieman, “The Radio Jove Project,” Steve Majewski, “Life Among the Cannibals:  Observing and Exploiting the entrails of Hierarchical Formation of Galaxies,”  Ted Forte, “Planetary Nebula Observing,”  John Simonetti, “Astrophysical Searches for Extra Spatial Dimensions” and Matt Fleenor, “Large-Scale Astronomical Environments and Their Influences on Star Formation.”  All of the presentations were very interesting and well done.

I particularly enjoyed the presentation by Steve Majewski whose research team was able to make great use of amateur images taken by Jay Gabany of large scale tidal structures associated with galaxies.  Jay Gabany’s amateur images were of significant value to Dr. Majewski’s team by virtue of Jay’s ability to image the same object night after night, selecting only the highest quality images which allowed detection of extremely faint structures around distant galaxies.  These structures are believed to be the remnants of galactic collisions.  The professionals were not able to capture the level of detail achieved in the amateur images since the amount of time available on professional telescopes is limited and in high demand by many other teams.  It is simply much more difficult to train a large professional telescope on a single object for many nights until a sufficient number of images can be acquired to bring out fine detail whereas an amateur with a good telescope can do just that – conduct a long-term dedicated imaging campaign narrowly focused on one or a small set of objects.  This was a great story of professional-amateur collaboration and the way in which an amateur astronomer was able to support professional work.

After the daytime presentations, a number of RVAS and other astronomers gathered at the Sunset Fields overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway at an elevation of 3472 feet.  The evening was beautiful, if just a bit windy, and we were treated to some nice seasonal views.

Next year’s event will be hosted by the Back Bay Amateur Astronomers on October 1, 2011 at Tidewater Community College.

Upcoming Events: We have a busy Fall ahead of us with a number of stargazing events on the calendar:

  • East Coast Star Party: October 29 – 30, Hampton Lodge Campground, Coinjock, NC.  Advance registration is not required.  Contact Kent Blackwell at for more information.
  • Fall Star Party at Camp: November 6 – The Heart of Virginia Scout Council is hosting a fall star party and the public is invited.  Please see this link for more information.
  • Brandermill Skywatch: November 12, 6:30 PM, Swift Creek Middle School, 3700 Old Hundred Road South, Midothian, VA.  Please contact John Raymond at if you can help.  More info here.
  • Skywatch at Five Forks: November 13, Five Forks Visitor Center, Petersburg National Battlefield.  Please contact John Raymond at if you can help.  More info here.
  • Bryan Park Skywatch: November 17, more info here.  Please contact John Raymond at if you can help.
  • Science Museum Skywatch: November 19 with LiveSky planetarium show starting at 6:00 PM.  More info here.
  • Scotchtown Skywatch: November 19, 16120 Chiswell Lane Beaverdam, VA, info here.  Please contact John Raymond at if you can help.

Virginia Skylines: Be sure to check out the latest edition of Leslie Bochenski’s weekly audio broadcast, “Virginia Skylines” on our new “What’s Up” page.

Surge Protectors: Tom Kennedy had a discussion about surge protection with some folks at the Fall picnic.  He asked that I pass along the following link to some additional information about surge protectors that might be helpful to those that were interested –  Link to more info.

Sydney’s Telescope: Sydney (with some help from her dad, Mark) is building a telescope.  The optical tube was finished a few weeks ago and now the base is complete.  It looks like they are close to finishing the whole project.  You can see their progress at this link.

Café Press: Richmond Astronomical Society logo items are available at


Jim Browder
Richmond Astronomical Society

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