Richmond Astronomical Society

Mini-Star Party, Bryan Park, VAAS and Eclipse Redux

Sep 20th, 2009 | By | Category: Blog

Mini-Star Party 19 Sep 2009Mini-star party: Last night’s (Saturday, September 19) mini-star party at the Heart of Virginia Scout Reservation went quite well.  Early in the evening the skies were looking very cloudy without much prospect for clearing.  Fortunately, however, they gradually cleared to a usable degree.  Throughout the night we had patches of high thin clouds move through the area, but the eight astronomers and two visitors at the event were treated to some nice periods of clarity during which we were able to get stable views of Jupiter, the Dumbell Nebula, a number of globular clusters, double stars and Neptune.

Jupiter gave us a particularly good show with one moon moving away from the limb during the evening along with a moon shadow moving across the planet’s face.  I think I had my scope aimed at Pluto for a while as well, but you couldn’t prove it by me.  The last holdouts of the evening put away their equipment as the Pleiades cluster was rising over the tree line to the east.  Before ending the evening’s observing, several of us raided the refreshment supply of another event that was going on at the scout camp.  Don’t tell anybody!

Bryan Park SkywatchBryan Park skywatch: Our Outreach Coordinator, John Raymond reports that the skywatch at Bryan Park in late August went well.  A good crowd showed up for the event and the number of telescopes was adequate to provide some nice views for the guests.  Thanks very much to all those who helped with the event.  The next skywatch at Bryan Park is scheduled for September 24.  Please let John or me ( know if you can bring a telescope and your expertise.  More information is available on the Friends of Bryan Park web site at this link.

John also has skywatch events scheduled at the Masonic Home and Meadow Glen for September 29 and 30, respectively.  Please let John or me know if you can help out.

VAAS 2009VAAS 2009: The Virginia Association of Astronomical Societies had its annual conference in Charlottesville on September 12.  This year the Charlottesville Astronomical Society hosted the meeting and treated us to a great set of speakers at a very comfortable facility – the National Radio Astronomy Observatory on the campus of the University of Virginia.  I counted about 40 attendees total.  The Richmond Astronomical Society was very well represented by 11 of the 40:  Daryl Douglas, Laura Graham, Bill Jeffries, Preston Kirby, Cal Pletcher, John Raymond, Prashant Reddy, Randy Tatum, Betty and Ken Wilson and I.

McCormick ObservatoryAfter the presentations, the group proceeded to McCormick Observatory for a view of the observatory exhibits and the 26-inch Clark refractor telescope along with a barbecue dinner prepared by Richard Drumm, president of the Charlottesville club.  Unfortunately, the skies were not cooperative, but that’s the way astronomy goes as we all know.  The event was well organized and we very much appreciate all the work on the part of Richard, the other Charlottesville club members, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, all the speakers who presented at the meeting and thanks to all who attended.  Also, my personal thanks to the RAS members for making such a good showing at the meeting and supporting the VAAS.

July 2009 Solar EclipseSolar Eclipse of July: At a recent meeting, Betty and Ken Wilson gave a great presentation on their trip to Asia to view the total solar eclipse.  Ken passed along some of the beautiful images they took.  Feast your eyes on this one of the solar chromosphere – pretty cool (I guess “pretty hot” would be a better description – sorry, couldn’t resist that one).

Jim Browder
Richmond Astronomical Society

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