Richmond Astronomical Society

Some News and Updates, Observatory Events, and Astronomy Podcasts

Jul 12th, 2009 | By | Category: Blog

A few updates …

The next meeting of the Richmond Astronomical Society will be on Tuesday, July 14 at the Science Museum of Virginia at 7:30 PM. Chris McCann will be presenting on “General Archaeoastronomy 101: How ancient cultures understood celestial events and how they used astronomy in their lives.” We also plan to have Terry Barker tell us about the Green Bank StarQuest by video link.

A number of us will be gathering at the Arby’s across from the Science Museum for dinner before the meeting. Please join us if you can – everyone is welcome to the meeting and the pre-meeting dinner.

Some exciting news in the amateur astronomy community: A story recently appeared about Michael Koppelman who is an amateur astronomer / musician / internet entrepreneur in Minnesota and who recently observed the visible light afterglow of a gamma ray burst from his personal observatory. The story of his observation is pretty interesting and was reported locally in Minnesota at: .

And a link to an interview with Michael here.

Michael’s day job is a web design business called Clockwork (, but in his spare time he acquired an undergraduate degree in astrophysics and in pursuing a doctorate in the same field. He also records an astronomy podcast called, “Slacker Astronomy” plus he observes from his observatory when he has a chance. At the Slacker Astronomy website ( you can hear Michael’s podcasts and learn about his latest project called “Citizen Sky” which is a citizen science enterprise worth checking out:

Wish this guy could find something to keep himself busy.

More astronomy podcasts: A couple meetings ago, Tim Streagle provide us with a great review of astronomy podcasts that are available online and easily accessible through iTunes. I enjoy a number of them on my MP3 player during my commute to work. Thanks to Tim for the comprehensive review. His list and notes are here: .

Observatory open house: John Barnett, our observatory director, has been hosting open house events at our observatory. At the last event, we caught some nice views of the moon and Saturn before some clouds rolled in. Randy Tatum treated us to some of his outstanding recorded video of solar phenomena and planetary images. It was a lot of fun and good to see folks at the open house. Thanks to John for hosting the events.

The date of the 2009 meeting of the Virginia Association of Astronomical Societies is approaching. This year it will be sponsored by the Charlottesville Astronomical Society on Saturday, September 12, 9:00 AM at National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) auditorium, 520 Edgemont Road, Charlottesville.

Our outreach coordinator, John Raymond, has scheduled several skywatches. The first one will be at Brandermill on August 3 and John needs some volunteers. Please let John or me ( know if you can help. This skywatch is a repeat performance of one we did with Brandermill last year and it was a great success – very well attended by lots of interested folks.

Also, at the request of Richmond Parks and Recreation, John has made arrangements to provide telescopes and astronomers for three skywatches at Bryan Park in the late summer and fall. As the dates approach, we will ask for volunteers to assist with the events. Thanks to John for coordinating with Bryan Park and for his all of his outreach work. Dates of the Bryan Park skywatches are as follows:

Wed., Aug. 26, rain date: Mon., Aug. 31
Thurs., Sept. 24, rain date: Mon., Sept. 28
Thurs., Oct. 22, rain date: Mon., Oct. 26

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson will be the opening speaker of the 2009-2010 season for the Richmond Forum, November 14, 2009, at 8:00 PM at the Landmark Theater.

Jim Browder
Richmond Astronomical Society

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