Richmond Astronomical Society

Parting of the Clouds and a Busy Astro-Autumn!

Sep 18th, 2011 | By | Category: Blog

RAS Fall Picnic: With all astronomical observing events, we run the risk of having uncooperative weather. That was certainly the case with Saturday’s RAS Fall picnic at the Heart of Virginia Scout Reservation in Goochland. Early in the evening we had solid clouds and so we moved the event indoors where we had great accommodations thanks to Tim Streagle with the scout reservation. In a display of unbridled optimism, our friends from North Carolina who drove to the area to enjoy some observing from the scout reservation, had deployed their telescopes behind the dining hall. I did not even bring a telescope given the cloudiness of the day and the weather forecast. To my complete amazement, the skies gradually improved somewhat before 11:00 PM and then cleared completely from horizon to horizon. I was stunned. This was completely inconsistent with the forecast, but a very pleasant surprise. Once again it paid off to hang around and wait for clearing. I was treated to some great views of the multiple star systems, iota Cassiopeiae and WZ Cassiopeiae along with the “ET” cluster and several of the familiar Messier objects.

Many thanks to all who helped out with the event, including Tim Streagle and Daryl Douglas for sharing their grilling skills with us, Prashant Reddy for coordinating the event, the Heart of Virginia Scout Reservation for hosting us, all who attended and shared their great food and provided great company. And thanks as well to the North Carolina contingent for being our guests and traveling so far to enjoy our local skies.



The Charlottesville Astronomical Society Fan Mountain Retreat: The Charlottesville Astronomical Society has very kindly  invited members of the Richmond Astronomical Society and the Back Bay Amateur Astronomers to attend their retreat at the UVA Fan Mountain observatory on September 23 and 24. If you are interested in attending, please contact Richard Drumm with the Charlottesville Society directly at


Lots of Astro-Events This Autumn: Every Autumn there are lots of observing events, but this year a bumper crop of events seems to have developed.  Below is the current list we have, but it continues to grow. Updates will be posted as new information comes in. Please review the list carefully for two reasons: (1) To check me to see if I made a mistake (which has been know to happen from time to time) and (2) to see if any of the events is of interest to you.  As always, we very much appreciate any support astronomers can provide to our outreach / skywatch events.

  • Skywatch at City Point, Petersburg National Battlefield, September 23: Please contact John Raymond at raymond if you can bring a telescope to this event.
  • Fan Mountain Retreat, September 23 – 24: RAS is invited. If you are interested in attending, please contact Richard Drumm with the Charlottesville Society directly at
  • Observing session for RAS members and friends, September 24: Observing at the Heart of Virginia Scout Reservation in Goochland. Directions to the site are here and here in Google Maps. Once you enter the reservation from Maidens Road/Rt. 522, take an immediate right turn into the Cub Adventure Camp, drive about 0.1 mile and look for a brown sign on the right with a picture of a telescope on it, directing you to the top of a hill which is the observing site. Please note that anyone under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian in order to comply with camp rules.
  • East Coast Video Astronomy Rendezvous, September 26 – October 2:  Star Party at Luray, Virginia focused on video astronomy.  More information at
  • Delmarva No-Frills Star Party, Sep 29 – Oct 2:
  • Virginia Association of Astronomical Societies, October 1:  Hosted by the Back Bay Astronomers at Tidewater Community College;
  • Astronomy Badge Event for Girl Scouts at the Science Museum of Virginia, October 15, 9-12 AM: The Science Museum is hosting a special event for girl scouts from 9 to 12 AM. If you can help with this event, please contact Jim Browder at
  • Skywatch at Scotchtown, October 15: Please contact John Raymond at raymond if you can bring a telescope to this event.
  • Observing session for RAS members and friends, October 29: See above for directions to the scout reservation.
  • Mid-Atlantic Star Party, October 24 – 30:  Star Party near Robbins, NC;
  • East Coast Star Party, Coinjock, NC, Oct 21-23:  Contact Kent Blackwell for more information at Note that this is a revised date from previous announcements.
  • Skywatch at Byrd Elementary in Goochland, November 4:  A special skywatch for fellow astronomer and elementary school teacher, Karren Streagle, for students of Byrd Elementary School. Please let Jim Browder ( know if you can bring a scope to this event.
  • Central Virginia Family Stargaze, November 18 – 19:  Star party hosted by the Heart of Virginia Scout Reservation, open to the public, convenient location, nice facilities and a dark sky;
What does it feel like to fly over the planet Earth? Science educator James Drake built this amazing timelapse video from the perspective of the International Space Station as it flew over North and South America – posted on Universe Today. You can read more about it and see more work by James Drake here


Jim Browder
Richmond Astronomical Society

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