Richmond Astronomical Society

Winter Star Party Report and Thanks for the Skywatch Help

Feb 25th, 2010 | By | Category: Blog

SMV skywatch - image courtesy of John Raymond

Last Skywatch: Thanks to everyone who helped out with the last Skywatch at the Science Museum on Friday, February 19.  I understand that the event was well attended as was the January skywatch.  After I sent out the call for additional telescopes, I got a fantastic response from the members which is very much appreciated!.  In fact, the response was so good, I was giving people the wave-off as the number of astronomers responding grew.   We really have a great group of very helpful folks in our club.  Many, many thanks to those who came out for the skywatch.  It represents a commitment of time and effort on our part to support these skywatches, but the value of providing the “eyes-on” experience of viewing distant astronomical objects has made astronomy come alive for many people over the years and we should commend ourselves for supporting this sort of activity.  Thanks again!


Virginia Skylines: If you have not heard Leslie Bochenki’s weekly audio show on astronomical highlights for the week, please give it a listen.  We have a link to it on the RAS web site.  Also thanks to Leslie for plugging the skywatch event in last week’s show!


planetLast Meeting: Ken Wilson presented highlights of the recent meeting of the American Astronomical Society in January of this year.  Since the meeting was in Washington, DC and close to this area, Ken took advantage of the opportunity to attend the meeting.  Ken discussed highlights of recent research and educational efforts presented by astronomers, which included some discussion of outreach work associated with the 2009 International Year of Astronomy.  Ken covered some of the hot topics discussed at the meeting and gave us a flavor of what it was like to be there.  Thanks to Ken for sharing his experience with us.


Winter Star Party: At the last meeting John Raymond gave us a live report by telephone from Florida on the Winter Star Party in the Florida Keys, hosted by the Southern Cross Astronomical Society in Miami.  It was tough listening to John’s description of the weather in the Keys as we were enduring the unusually snowy weather for this area.  John passed along along the following review of the event:

Good things about the star party:
  • I got to see Crux, Eta Carinae, Alpha and Beta Centauri for the first time.
  • I got my Televue hat signed by Al Nagler.
  • I was camped near Tom Peters of Discmounts. He helped me fine tune the balance on mine. He also has the same scope so we had a lot to discuss.
  • The JMI binos were outright awesome. Easy to use, no problems merging images. The bad part : for collimation a hex tool is needed.  JMI makes dobs, why not have spring-loaded thumbscrews for collimation? I told Jim Burr my concerns. Im interested in selling my dob and getting the 10″ JMI.
  • I also met Rob Royce of Royce Optical. He tested the mirror in my 8″ f/20 and assured me the optics were good.
  • Gayle Rigsbee of Charlotte came up to me and told me about the 8″. He made the tube and rings.
  • Sergio of the SCAS showed me the Radio Marti blimp that broadcasts into Cuba.
  • The Mike Lockwood 14″ f /2.5. Awesome!!!!
  • The AP and TEC refractors. Excellent Mars. I saw the Running Man nebulosity in the TEC 140. I cant see it in my 18″ from home.
  • There was an old dude with a homemade dob next to Lockwood. Excellent construction – I forgot the name.
  • The Dutch optical engineer was there. I had him evaluate my binos. He also showed me his 25 year-old 80mm binos he completely overhauled. No aberrations detectable at all. It took him six months but well worth the time. He tests imported binos for the Dutch telescope vendor.
  • I watched Howie Glatter make and install a cable sling for a 20″ dob.
  • Meeting a lot of nice people.

Bad things:

  • That was the longest, most boring drive I’ve ever been on.
  • The wind, cold, and rain.
  • The men’s shower all the way at the other end of the site. The long line in the morning.
  • The confusion over the camping sites.


East Coast Video Astronomy Rendezvous: The East Coast Video Astronomy Rendezvous in Luray Virginia is coming up June 10 – 13th.

A number of video astronomers and those interested in same will be meeting for four days under the stars using video assisted astronomical telescopes in beautiful Luray Virginia at the Country Way Campground.  Reservations must be made for camp space.  Be sure to let them know you are with the ECVAR group to receive a discount.
Campground location and contact information:
Country Way Campground
3402 Kimball Rd. Luray, Virginia, 22835
Phone 540-743-7222
For reservations only:  888-765-7222
For questions about the Rendezvous, please email:
Jim Turner –
Scott Short –
Mars is still showing off: Although it’s getting smaller, Mars is still presenting  a nice apparition in the night sky.  After sunset it appears as an orange point of light in the eastern sky, culminating about 10 PM.  Randy Tatum has been doing some imaging of Mars lately with his 10-inch f/12 Newtonian scope and he caught a night of good seeing evidenced by the image to the left.  Thanks to Randy for sharing this image with us.  I wish my Mars images looked this good.________
Thanks once again for everyone’s support with the skywatches and all of our other activities.  Hope to see everyone at the next meeting!
Jim Browder
Richmond Astronomical Society

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