The RAS Fall picnic was a success thanks to our master chefs, kind visitors who brought an array of delicious items, grilling equipment, Belmead for hosting us and the clear dark skies of Powhatan County. All conspired to make for a great picnic. Thanks to all. A blog post about the event with pictures captured by attending astronomers is here.
VAAS 2015 was a success (except it was rainy, so we enjoyed all of the indoor activities). A short slideshow appears here. Many thanks to the Charlottesville Astronomical Society, University of Virginia and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory Headquarters for supporting the event.
Total Lunar Eclipse, Sunday, September 27, 8:00 PM: Weather permitting, RAS will view the total lunar eclipse from the Science Museum of Virginia and will broadcast the event at http://ustream.tv/channel/richastro. The Museum will be open until midnight with indoor astro activities from 8 PM – 10 PM! Please join us if you can. If the weather is favorable, this should be an excellent opportunity to see a total lunar eclipse – The events will be well placed at a convenient time to view.
– Eclipse begins: Sun, Sep 27, 2015 at 8:11 PM
– Maximum: Sun, Sep 27, 2015 at 10:47 PM
– Ends: Mon, Sep 28, 2015 at 1:22 AM
– Duration: 5 hours, 11 minutes. More details here.
Prashant Reddy, long-time member and friend of the Richmond Astronomical Society passed away at his home in Powhatan. Prashant could often be seen at Science Museum skywatches and other club events with the club’s solar scope or chatting with visitors. He coordinated several of our Astronomy Days at the Science Museum, planned several fall picnics for us at the scout camp in Goochland and at Belmead in Powhatan and helped staff our booth at RavenCon. He was generous in sharing his time and sharing his dark sky backyard in Powhatan with fellow observers by offering us an open invitation to stargaze from his driveway and providing a steady flow of hot chocolate along with a place to warm up on cold nights.
He particularly enjoyed observing with fellow astronomers and very much appreciated their encyclopedic knowledge of the sky that he appreciated. He told me so on more than one occasion.
A memorial service was held on Wednesday, August 12, 1:00 PM at the E. Alvin Small Funeral Home, 2033 Boulevard, Colonial Heights, VA. A service was also held on Friday, August 14, 7:00 PM at the Hindu Temple, 6051 Springfield Rd., Glen Allen, VA.
Be sure to go outside August 12, to see one of the best meteor showers of them all. The Perseids Meteor Shower will peak tomorrow morning around 2 am EST, but there should be plenty to see all night long.
Staunton River State Park has been formally designated as a Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Skies Association. Read the press release here. Many congratulations and thanks to Staunton River State Park and the Chapel Hill Astronomy Club for making this happen (particularly Adam Layman, Park Manager and Jayme Hanzak, Chapel Hill Club President)!
The New Horizons spacecraft has reached Pluto and is transmitting data back to Earth. This is an outstanding achievement. Because of the distance to Pluto, it will take some time to receive all of the data collected during the flyby. More information from NASA is here.
Ever been to a star party? They’re great. A star party is usually a multi-day event in a dark sky location that immerses participants in a sea of telescopes and astronomy enthusiasts. participants often camp near their equipment or stay in nearby lodging. One of the best in the eastern US is the Green Bank Star Quest coming up next week at the Green Bank Radio Observatory in West Virginia, June 17-20. Below is a link to a short video that attempts to show what a star party is like, but doesn’t do the experience justice. Another really enjoyable star party is the East Coast Star Party, held in Coinjock on the coast of North Carolina once or twice a year. The latest event was held in May. The weather was pleasant. The viewing was good. The astronomers were friendly and welcoming as usual. Please have a look.
Please join us at the Science Museum of Virginia for International Astronomy Day on Saturday, April 25 from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM. There will be special activities at the Museum including solar observing (weather permitting) planetarium shows, informative displays and water rocket launches. Please join us if you can.
RAS and Francis Emma Inc. will host a skywatch and a talk at Belmead on the James in Powhatan. We will hear about the famous Messier objects cataloged by Charles Messier which represent some of the most spectacular deep sky objects visible in the night sky. Astronomers and visitors are welcome to set up their telescopes in the paved area near the mansion and observe as long as they like, but no telescope is required, just an interest in the night sky. Those that wish to observe all night may wish to attempt a “Messier Marathon” to observe as many Messier objects as possible.
The entrance to Belmead is located at 5004 Cartersville Road, Powhatan, VA. A Google Map showing the location is at this link: https://goo.gl/maps/IInF3. Once you enter Belmead follow signs to the mansion. Indoor session starts at 7:00 PM; RAS volunteer astronomers are invited to join a light supper at 5:00 PM at the mansion.