Richmond Astronomical Society

November 2010 Board Meeting Minutes

Mar 7th, 2011 | By | Category: Board Meetings

RAS Board Meeting November 15, 2010

President Jim Browder called the meeting to order at 7:01pm.

Attendees (11):

  • Jim Browder, President
  • Jim Blowers, Treasurer
  • Chris McCann, Secretary
  • Ken Wilson
  • Betty Wilson
  • Prashant Reddy
  • Jeff Pike
  • Gary Cowardin
  • Cal Pletcher
  • Laura Graham
  • Bill Walton


Secretary’s report given by Chris McCann

  • August’s board meeting minutes were distributed, discussed, and accepted.

Treasurer’s report given by Jim Blowers.

  • Jim commented that dues are coming in slowly.
  • Balance Summary (as of 11/15/2010):
  • General Fund:                $5451.32
  • Observatory Fund:           $168.86
  • TOTAL:                         $5620.18
  • Checking Account:          $559.08
  • Savings Account:           $2859.01
  • Certificate of Deposit:    $2202.09
  • Pay Pal Acct:                          0.00
  • TOTAL:                          $5620.18

Treasurer’s report was approved by the board. 
Observatory Report given by Jim Browder

  • While John Barnett is undergoing chemotherapy sessions, Randy Tatum will be acting RAS Observatory Director.  It was reported that RAS has 2 new operators – Isaac Steincamp and Nathan Horne). 
  • The concrete apron at the observatory is crumbling and needs to be patched up.


Education Report (Jim Browder) :

  • John Raymond, RAS Outreach coordinator, continues to schedule and hold several public skywatches at various places.  There are several requests for skywatches in the near future. 
  • Area skywatches should be processed through John Raymond, who continues to do an awesome job.
  • Another skywatch at Scotchtown is still scheduled for this coming Friday (November 19).
  • Jim Browder reported that the Heart of Virginia Scout Council Star Party had an outstanding turnout of 100-200 people, including at least 10 telescopes, most operated by RAS members. There are ideas considered for sponsoring similar skywatches in either the Spring, Fall, or both.  Discussions will be made in the future.
  • Comments were made about recent RAS skywatches at the Science Museum have been attended by ‘good-sized’ crowds.


Library Report (made by Jim Browder)

  • Virginia reported that she had no problem accessing the newly re-located RAS library room.  The people at the Richmond Alarm Company were nice and easy to work with, to gain access.  RAS will be sending a card to Wayne Boggs (President of the alarm company) to thank him for his hospitality and use of his storage room.


Other Reports:

Dark skies / light pollution initiatives

  • Laura Graham joined us to discuss local dark sky issues.  She asked if RAS is willing to supply her with letters of “dark sky” support and assistance, when needed, to influence changes.
  • Chesterfield County is considering changes to their existing ordinances to affect future inspection processes involving public lighting. 
  • Goochland County is attempting similar changes that Laura successfully fought for in Powhatan County. 
  • RAS agreed to send a letter of support to Goochland, emphasizing the need for dark skies.  RAS is also considering having interested members assisting Laura in her mission.
  • Should RAS be contacting SMV and other companies, to emphasize the use of “green lighting” according to the federal government suggestions?
  • Recently installed lighting in Powhatan is not shining directly on others’ properties.
  • Powhatan Correction Facility has exterior lighting pointing downward.  Laura discusses this and other items in an article in an IDA magazine named Nightscape.
  • The most effective supporters of change will have to be the local county citizens, where the ordinances are being evaluated.
  • Grayson County has completed a new prison facility with shielded lighting.
  • Can RAS put an IDA link on the RAS website?
  • Ken Wilson expressed 2 ideas for consideration:
    • Can RAS award a company who has improved its external lighting according to IDA proposals?
    • In the 13 acres behind the SMV, will it be possible to present good and bad lighting examples?
  • Can RAS perceive publicly supporting the Dark Sky issues as a future on-going mission?


SCC report filing

  • Check into the need (and timing) of updating the SCC filing.
  • Ask Phil if we need constant evaluation of 501©3?

Fall Picnic

  • Great planning and turnout!!.  Thanks to Prashant!  Good work.  Prashant said he would make his notes and findings public for the rest of us to possibly use in future planning.



New Business:

Election of RAS Officers for 2011

Election results, elected positions, month of meeting presentation:

Ken Wilson                                           January

Jim Browder                  President           February

Betty Wilson                                          March

Jim Blowers                  Treasuerer         April

David Medici                 Vice-President   May

Prashant Reddy                                      June

Cal Pletcher                                           July

Chris McCann                Secretary           August

Dave Walton                                          September

Jeff Pike                                               October

Gary Cowardin                                      November

John Barnett                                          December

Appointed Positions for 2011

Ken Wilson                   Astronomical League Coordinator

John Raymond               Outreach Coordinator           (Does he need an assistant?)

Virginia Eckert              Librarian

Treasury Status/Dues

  • Do we need dues increase?  Discussion tabled until future board meeting.

Observatory Director for remainder of 2010

  • Randy Tatum will be acting as the Observatory Director, until John Barnett returns to the post.

Resource Document (Ken & Betty Wilson)

  • Ken and Betty created a document that RAS should present to groups and organizations that will be having a skywatch.  It describes the proper process to acquire RAS services, selecting a sufficient site for the skywatch, and general behavioral guidelines that should be followed during the skywatch.  The board was asked to look over it and respond.  Immediate responses were very favorable.

Follow-up to offer by Rich Conti for joint outreach

  • SMV is asking for RAS to work with them in a joint outreach to the public.  A major task will be to display positive relations and distribute handouts at joint functions. 
  • Immediate questions and concerns:
    • If we are passing out SMV literature, can we also pass out RAS info, too? 
    • All SMV info needs to pass by the RAS board first. 
    • Will SMV have any liabilities due to RAS being “deputized workers”? 
    • Are we allowed to have a “sense of identity” at the skywatches; for example, a tee-shirt, hat, name badge, or poster to display that we are RAS. 
    • We need a subset of RAS to meet with Conti about it.  The group needs to be strong, polite, professional, and open-minded, but not promise anything until the board is informed of the requests.  Several members were suggested to be members of the committee to meet with Conti, but the President will make the final choices.

Thanks to Tim Streagle for storing and use of large Dob

Thanks again to John Raymond for coordinating the many outreach events

Future issue to be discussed:

  • There is an issue with the filter used for the solar telescope.  There is a possibility that it needs to be replaced. 
  • Jeff Pike brought to our attention that some people in Cumberland County want to talk to us about creating an observing location in their area.  Prashant added that Buckingham is also a good location to have a site.


Next Board meeting will be Monday, February 21st, 2010 at Extra Billy’s at 7pm.  If you want to come early for dinner, come by at 6pm.

  • Meeting was adjourned at 8:45pm.

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