Richmond Astronomical Society

November 2016 Board Meeting Minutes

May 9th, 2017 | By | Category: Board Meetings

RAS Board Meeting – November 28, 2016


President Jim Browder called the meeting to order at 7:04 pm.


Attendees (11+1):

  • Jim Browder, President
  • Jim Blowers, Treasurer
  • Chris McCann, Secretary
  • Gary Cowardin
  • Ken Wilson
  • Betty Wilson
  • Mike Lico
  • Michael Pitchford
  • Terry Barker (new to board)
  • Joe Racette (new to board)
  • Tyler Hutcheson (new to board)
  • Sam Hutcheson (non-board)



  • Madhup Rathi
  • Matthew Roy, Vice President
  • Ted Bethune
  • John Raymond, Observatory Director (non-board)
  • Dave Medici (non-board)


Secretary’s report given by Chris McCann

  • August’s board meeting minutes are reviewed and accepted.

Treasurer’s report given by Jim Blowers

  • Balance Summary          (as of   8/15/2016):                (as of  11/25/2016):
  • General Fund: 43                            12087.75
  • Observatory Fund:           58                                  72.52
  • TOTAL: 01                            12160.27


  • Checking Account:     64                              9904.16
  • Savings Account:     10                                    0.00
  • Certificate of Deposit:     27                              2256.11
  • Pay Pal Acct:          00                                    0.00
  • TOTAL:   01                             12160.27


After a brief discussion, the treasurer’s report was accepted by the board.  The savings account was joined into the checking account due to unwanted fees being charged to savings.

Membership renewal count in November is 40 paid members.


Observatory Report (given by Jim Browder for John)

  • No issues reported
  • Carolina Bay core drilling update – The drilling was done and involved taking a core 30 feet in length and 6-inches across.  As of the board meeting, the cores had been removed from the casing, and are being stored and researched at William & Mary.  No information yet and there is no ETA on results.
  • The concrete base around the observatory is deteriorating.  It needs to be cleaned and patched with more concrete.


Library Report (given by Jim Browder for Virginia)

  • Virginia is doing a great job.
  • No issues reported


Education / Outreach Report:

  • The Terry / Madhup outreach machine – many skywatches have been done
  • James River State Park – Jim Br and Mearl attended
  • Powhatan State Park – very few visitors (not widely publicized); John has a list of future proposed dates
  • Midlothian High School – will be on December 3 (Terry Barker)
  • Powhatan Library – will be December 1 (Jim Browder)
  • Belmead observing will be on December 3
  • Recommendation that we get a consistent contact at all places
  • Can we send announcements to schools, to keep all in a loop
  • Terry has a contact at Chesterfield County for scheduling skywatches at Chesterfield County Sports Complex (about 20 miles from Clover Hill High School)
  • We need to make an effort to prevent multiple skywatches on the same day, unless we have coverage for each and they will not draw from each other.
  • Science Museum – attendance and observing is going well, good crowds at the observing sessions that are not weathered out.
  • Numerous upcoming star parties are on the calendar.



Old Business  (tabled till next meeting)

  • Inclusion process (on the list to keep attention on it) – Matthew has a survey that he would like to give to our members
  • E-mail system issues improved
  • Google apps (Matthew)


New Business

  • SCC filing – filed and copy given to Jim Blowers
  • By-laws need to be adjusted to properly allow 14 board members.  Suggestion was made to re-word the by-laws to accept 11-14 members starting for the year 2017.  A formal motion was made to tentatively allow a 14th member for the year 2017 and to investigate what, if any other, changes need to be made to the by-laws.  Changes to be resolved by the February Board meeting.  The Board accepted the motion.
  • Election of 2017 RAS officers
    • President – Jim Browder
    • Vice-President – Matthew Roy
    • Secretary – Chris McCann
    • Treasurer – Jim Blowers
    • Observatory Director – John Raymond
  • Selection of presentation months – list of assigned meetings and board meetings
    • January 10     Ted Bethune
    • February  14  Madhup Rathi
    • February 20   (Board meeting)
    • March 14       Betty Wilson
    • April 11          Michael Pitchford
    • May 9            Terry Barker
    • May 15          (Board meeting)
    • June 13          Mike Lico
    • July 11           Jim Blowers, Treasurer
    • August 8        Chris McCann, Secretary
    • August 21      (Board meeting)    ?????????????
    • September 12  Joe Racette
    • October 10      Tyler Hutcheson
    • November 14   Ken Wilson
    • November 20   (Board meeting)
    • December 12    Gary Cowardin
  • Coordinator of picnics and Astronomy Day – Matthew Roy, Vice President
    • Jim will ask her if she is interested in continuing as librarian for 2017.


  • Belmead status / possible donation –

An RFP is active by the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.  130 parties have expressed interest in the property.  Businesses plan to preserve as much property as possible and expect to get a loan to fund/purchase the property.  A non-profit organization is proposing 4000 resources to donate $100 each, making a total of $400,000, to be used up front to service the loan.  Belmead’s sale may be in a matter of months.  We discussed what we had planned to spend at Belmead on an annual basis, if the facilities had remained open, and all agreements made between Belmead and RAS were honored.  We also discussed if the donation would affect our 501-c-3 status.  After consideration and much discussion, a motion was made to donate $500 to Belmead on the James with a clause that $300 will be returned back if the donations are not needed or not used.  This will occur in the event Belmead is sold and the collected funds were not used.  The Board accepted the motion.  Jim Blowers will handle the donation.

  • Inquiry from Night Sky Network – to help Astronomy clubs (not much there); better online public interface than before;  discussed features for club management and for clubs with little or no management in place; provides videos with clubs and for outreach;  provides kits for educational purposes;  Betty Wilson stated that it needed to be re-examined again.
  • Possible items to sell / mechanism?  We have several items to be used at Belmead, outreaches, loaned out to members, or just scrapped.  Evaluation of inventory to be done by Jim Browder and John Raymond.  Useful extra equipment can be offered to be bid on by RAS members.  A question was asked if we could use someone like Astromart to sell remaining items after the member sale is complete.  Further discussion will be later.
  • Terry built the existing website and is interested in re-building it and improving it, allowing it to be seen on a smart phone.   Google Analytics??
  • VAAS – SouthEast Back Bay club hosts it in 2017.  Richmond Astronomical Society (RAS) will host it in 2018.
  • Think about plans for 2017 solar eclipse – August 21, 2017 – many of our members have already set up camping and hotel reservations along the line of totality for the total solar eclipse next August.  In Richmond, we are expecting 80-89% totality (strong partial).  Anyone left locally will be asked to help with public outreach.  There was a suggestion to update the RAS site with good information links.  One example is the “Great American Eclipse”.


Next Meeting Date – February 20, 2017 (tentative), no issues with it being President’s Day


Meeting was adjourned at 8:50 pm.




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