Richmond Astronomical Society

Thanks for a Great 2009, Good Wishes for a Great 2010, Dark Skies and More

Jan 18th, 2010 | By | Category: Blog

RAS Charter

Original RAS charter document

Thanks and good wishes for 2010: Thanks to everyone who attended and who assisted with our 60th anniversary dinner in December.  By all accounts it was a great event.  The Holiday Inn served us good food, Jim Condon with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory presented a fascinating talk and Gary Cowardin and John Barnett helped us to reminisce on our 60-year history as an organization.   A special thanks also to Gary for bringing the audio-visual equipment and to Preston Kirby for locating the facility and for making the initial arrangements.

Best wishes to all of our members and friends in the astronomy community for a great 2010!

Light Pollution in Virginia as Viewed from Space

Light pollution in Virginia as viewed from space

Laura Graham and dark skies: Laura Graham has been working tirelessly as usual to advance the cause of dark skies.  On December 16, she traveled to Washington, DC along with Johnny Noles, a marine biologist who works with the Navy, and Milt Roney, who is a board member of International Dark Sky Association’s DC council. The IDA DC council specializes in working with legislators at state and national levels on the subject of light pollution. Laura and company met with Congressman Robert Scott’s staff to discuss the issues of light pollution along public waterways. Unshielded lights along shore lines are a serious safety problem when boats are approaching docks and piers, due to glare which impairs visibility of channel markers and other boats.

They requested a congressional proposal to study light pollution impacts on boating safety and environmental quality.  Such a study would lead to recommendations which could form the basis for further legislative action.

They are also in contact with a Maryland legislator, Alfred Carr, who has indicated that he will match a Virginia ordinance with one of his own for his state.

Separately, Laura has been in contact with Virginia delegate Lee Ware to discuss the possibility of working with local power companies and VDOT to assess what financial savings may occur through the use of shielded lighting.

Laura also notes that the city of Richmond will retrofit lights with shields where glare is a problem and that shielded lights could be requested in the vicinity of the Science Museum if we felt that it would be worthwhile to do so.

If you are interested in the preservation of dark skies or can help Laura in any way, please contact her at  Also check out the Virginia Dark Skies web site at

Don Rosenfield with his 100mm binoculars

Don Rosenfield with his 100mm binoculars

Donald Rosenfield’s 100mm binos and the skyshed pod: Don Rosenfield gave me a tour of his Skyshed Pod and a short test drive of his new Burgess Optical/TMB Optical f/7 100mm right angle binoculars.  The binoculars are fresh from assembly (this is the only one that exists at this time) and were delivered by Bill Burgess himself.  The views of the skies will undoubtedly be spectacular through these binoculars.  Don also showed me his 10-inch fork mount Newtonian telescope which is also in the Pod and built like a tank.  We look forward to seeing the binoculars deployed under the stars.


Dues are due: Our treasurer, Jim Blowers, advises that about 40% of our membership has paid dues for 2010.  If you have not already done so, please make payment as soon as possible.  Regular membership is $30.  If paying by check, please send payments to Jim at the address below or provide to him at a meeting:

Jim Blowers
4514 Foxwood Rd.
Chester, VA 23831-8011

Information on observatory memberships and payment by PayPal are on our web site at

Upcoming outreach events: John Raymond is providing support to a skywatch at Sutherland Elementary School in Dinwiddie January 27th. If you can help John out by bringing a telescope, please let him know.

Image of Mars by Randy Tatum

Recent image of Mars captured by Randy Tatum with his ToUcam and f/12 10-inch Newtonian

John Barnett and the aphelic Mars opposition of 2010: Thanks to John Barnett for the great presentation on the upcoming opposition of Mars this month.  Mars will reach opposition on January 29th in the constellation Cancer. On January 24th, John will be hosting an open house at our observatory  starting at 6:00 PM.  The moon will be visible early in the evening on the 24th and for those that stay until 9:00 PM that night, Mars will clear the eastern tree line and treat us to a view of the planet with a disk 14.1 arc-seconds in diameter. Please join us at the observatory if you can and watch the Richastro Yahoo group for last minute weather calls.  John will update us as to whether the weather will permit us to see the moon and Mars that night.

Next RAS board meeting: The next RAS board of directors meeting will be held at Extra Billy’s restaurant at 7:00 PM on February 15.  Please arrive earlier if you wish to eat with us.  Any member is welcome to attend the board meeting.

Science Museum skywatch: Terry Barker, Jim Blowers and John Barnett supplied telescopes and binoculars along with their expertise at the last Science Museum skywatch.  Terry reports that about 300 people showed up for the event.  That’s a lot of people for three astronomers to entertain.  Many thanks to Terry, Jim and John for being there.  The next skywatch/LiveSky will be on Friday, February 19.  Please help out with the event if you can.

Jim Browder
Richmond Astronomical Society

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  1. The articles about Laura Graham’s continuing eforts to subdue light pollution in the state (and beyond) were interesting and inspiring. Jim, thanks for assembling these and the other articles in the Jan. 18th blog!