Richmond Astronomical Society

Meetings

August 2015 Meeting Minutes

Nov 8th, 2015 | By | Category: Meetings

Richmond Astronomical Society
791st Consecutive Meeting
August 11, 2015

Greetings – approximately 41 in attendance at the meeting.
Jim Browder called our meeting to order in the Eureka meeting room

Announcements / Share Table
Sad news – Prashant Reddy, a long time RAS member and board member, unexpectedly passed away last night (August 10) after fighting a medical condition.
Funeral arrangements were announced.

Library Report: Virginia Eckert brought 6 books for display
Our Moon (1954) by H Percy Wilkins
The Realm of the Nebulae (1958) by Edwin Hubble
The Mysterious Universe (1930) by Sir James Jeans
A Traveler’s Guide to Mars (2003) by William K Hautman
The Dark Night Sky (1975) by Donald D Clayton
Contemporary Astronomy (1975), by Edward J Devinney, Jr

Welcome Visitors:
Chris Pahlad-Thomas
Rick Crook
Ro Toman
Corinne Callison

Events and Individual Observing:
RAS member observing,
Science Museum – 12 telescopes and 1 pair of binoculars; lots of people; planetarium show sold out,
Powhatan State Park – 50 visitors; decent viewing; thanks to Jim browder and Ray Moody for bringing scopes
Staunton River State Park – great crowd and skywatch, except for the mosquitoes
Visit to the Very Large Array in New Mexico- array of 27 dishes, each 82 feet in diameter, covering 22 sq miles. From 1873-1980, the arrays were moved along railroad tracks. The dishes are re-configured every 4 months. The dishes can receive signals in frequencies ranging from 74 to 50,000 MHz. The accuracy of the signal can detect a golfball at a distance of 100 miles away.
Various building have graffiti that are signatures of VIP visitors.
The array has 18,000-22,000 visitors annually.

Perseid Meteor Shower, August 12-13: Peaks Wednesday night/ Thursday morning — good viewing conditions near new moon.

Bryan Park Skywatch, August14, 7:30: Join us for a skywatch at the Bryan Park soccer fields. Please let Jim Browder know if you can bring a telescope at president©richastro.org.

RAS Board of Directors Meeting, Monday, August 17, 7:00 PM: RAS Board of Directors Meeting at Extra Billy’s Restaurant on West Broad Street. Dinner reservations at 6:00 PM; meeting begins at 7:00 PM.

Science Museum Skywatch, Friday, August 21, 7:00 PM: Our regular monthly skywatch at the Science Museum is scheduled to start at 7:00 PM after the Museum’s Science After Dark activities and planetarium show at 6:30. Please join us if you can.
Powhatan State Park Skywatch, Saturday, September 12, 8:00 PM: Skywatch at the trailhead / equestrian area parking lot near the end of the park access road. We will post signs in the park showing the way to the skywatch area. Please let Jim Browder know if you can bring a telescope at president@richastro.org.
Planetarium show is “Rock & Roll from Outer Space”

Monthly RAS Meeting, Tuesday, September 8, 7:30 PM: Please join us for the meeting at 7:30 PM and, if you can, for dinner at Arby’s, across the street from the Museum about 6:00 PM. For those that cannot attend the meeting in person, we will stream video of the meeting, starting at 7:30, internet bandwidth permitting, at this link: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/richastro.

Total Lunar Eclipse, Sunday, September 27: Total lunar eclipse visible from Richmond, starts at 8:11 PM, peaks at 10:47 PM local time. More details at http://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/lunar/2015-september-28.
Have not heard if SMV will have activities during the eclipse

Annual Meeting of the Virginia Association of Astronomical Societies, October 3, Charlottesville: The annual meeting of the Virginia Association of Astronomical Societies is being hosted this year by the Charlottesville Astronomical Society at the headquarters of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory on the grounds of the University of Virginia. http://www.cv.nrao.edu/
A Website for the event is available with more details to follow, check back often: http://cvilleastro.com/vaas-2015/.
The following speakers have been engaged
— Rob Capon, Robotic telescopes and automated observing
— Ed Murphy, History of astronomy at UVa
— Shanil Virani, James Madison Planetarium
— Alan Aylward, auroras and atmospheric observing
The day will also include a tour and observing at the Historic McCormick Observatory.

East Coast Star Party, October 8-10, Coinjock, NC: Casual star gazing in a coastal environment. Contact Kent Blackwell at kent@exis.net for more information.

Staunton River Star Party, Staunton River State Park, October 12-18: Star party in the newest dark sky park in the east! More information at http://www.chaosastro.com/starparty/.

Break

Presentation: “New Horizons and the Mysteries of Pluto,” Chris McCann
Chris started off with an overview of the story behind the discovery of Pluto. It was discovered by Clyde Tombaugh, using calculations and results from Percival Lowell’s research. Later, he learned that Lowell’s research was erroneous and Pluto had been found while using this data. Pluto was not named after the Disney character, but after the Roman god of the underworld. Disney’s Pluto did not make his debut until after the discovery of the planet.
New Horizons’ venture started in 2006, when Pluto was thought to have 1 moon (there are 4 moons). New Horizons had several payload instruments, including
• Infrared, ultra-violet, and visible light imagers
• Spectrometers to study the light, solar wind, and plasma
• A student-designed meter to measures space dust during its mission
New Horizons sling-shoted by Jupiter to increase its speed and shorten its mission to Pluto by 2-3 years. While passing Jupiter, it took several photos of Jupiter and the moons, including erupting volcanoes all over Io.
Closest approach was on July 14, 2005. Detail photographs of Pluto showed it is an ice planet, with several types of ice – carbon monoxide, methane, and nitrogen. Diversity in the landscape showed that some of the ice is moving and the crust is a ‘new’ surface. A few theories expect liquid water or a dense slushy water ice to be flowing below the surface.
Pluto and its original moon, Charon, have a unique relationship. Since Charon is so massive, scientists look at Pluto-Charon as a planetary system (double planet). Its center of rotation is outside of Pluto and between the 2 masses. The orbit of Charon is considered a ‘wobble’ by the way the 2 react to each other. Pluto and Charon have the same rotation period of 6.4 Earth days. That also matches Charon’s orbitalal time about Pluto. The same parts of Pluto and Charon face each other at all times.
Charon shows deep craters and canyons, and massive fissures across the equatorial region, possibly caused by internal forces. The other 3 moons are much smaller and irregularly shaped.
After the fly-by, photos of a sun-lit atmosphere were very impressive. Scientists believe that Pluto is losing its atmosphere and may be ‘dying’. Other scientists believe this may be part of a cyclical process caused by its extreme 248-year orbit that goes inside Neptune’s orbit and closer to the sun.
New Horizons will continue to send data and photos back to the Earth for the next 18-months. Presently, it is heading off into the Kuiper Belt towards a smaller target, expecting to reach it within the next 10 years.



July 2015 Meeting Minutes

Nov 8th, 2015 | By | Category: Meetings

Richmond Astronomical Society
790th Consecutive Meeting
July 14, 2015

Greetings – approximately 29 in attendance at the meeting.
Jim Browder called our meeting to order in the Eureka meeting room

Announcements / Share Table
Leslie had a focuser, dew shield, and a 6” lens for sale
Ken showed us a tour video of the Von Braun Astronomical Society planetarium in Huntsville, Alabama. It can be found on its website at www.vbas.com.

Library Report: none

Welcome Visitors:
Tom Stepka
Alex van Rooyan
Andrew Chase
Marie Barnett (wife of our John Barnett)

Events and Individual Observing:
RAS member observing
Mearl discussed that at the Outer Banks, when the sea turtles are hatching, no one is allowed to have front porch lights on. It must remain dark for the turtles to live. Light increases the chance of them going to the lights and not to the ocean.
Other members said they saw a meteor explode at Wrightsville Beach. It was a very dark and clear sky at the time.

Science Museum – weathered out
Green Bank Star Quest
Belmead – Weathered out. There was an indoor session, but no outdoor session.
The RAS and others are trying to get Belmead considered as a Dark Sky sanctuary. It will provide legal protection, if it is regularly visited. To qualify, it must allow star sightings of magnitude 21.5.
Powhatan State Park – JohnR – Venus, Jupiter, Mars; good crowd

Upcoming Events
Dark Sky Park Dedication at Staunton River State Park, July 17, 7:00 PM: Staunton River State Park has been named a Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association! RAS members, friends are invited to attend a dedication ceremony on Friday, July 17 at 7:00 PM near the visitor center in Staunton River State Park. An observing session will follow the dedication ceremony, weather permitting. An excerpt from the press release follows:
“(TUCSON, Ariz., and RICHMOND) — Staunton River State Park, in Scottsburg, has been named an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), becoming the first park in Virginia and only the 25th park in the world with the designation. Staunton River State Park is managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR)”
Staunton River State Park management has worked very hard to achieve Dark Sky Park status in conjunction with the Chapel Hill Astronomical and Observational Society (CHAOS). Achieving this milestone required securing the support of surrounding communities, making a substantial number of sky darkness measurements, development of strategic plans for maintaining and protecting the dark skies and compiling all of this information in a lengthy application document. Many organizations, including RAS, submitted letters of support. As amateur astronomers, we owe our continued support to the Park for this monumental achievement.
Please join in the dedication ceremony if you can.
Several members will be attending.

Powhatan has new lighting laws. Madhu discussed a dark site about 10 miles west of Powhatan.

Science Museum Skywatch, Friday, July 17, 7:00 PM: Our regular monthly skywatch at the Science Museum is scheduled to start at 7:00 PM, but we might want to have some astronomers set up closer to dusk. If those of us who will be helping out with the skywatch can be at the Museum closer to dusk it would be helpful since there may be visitors at that time. The LiveSky will be from 6:30-7:30 about Pluto.

Powhatan State Park Skywatch, Saturday, August 8: RAS and Powhatan State Park will host a skywatch at the Park on May 16 starting at dusk in the equestrian parking area. Please join us if you can. If you can help with this event, please contact John Raymond at raymond7419verizon.net.

RAS Monthly Meeting, Tuesday, August11, 7:30 PM, Science Museum of Virginia: Please join us for the meeting and, if you can, for dinner at Arby’s, across the street from the Museum about 6:00 PM.
For those that cannot attend the meeting in person, we will stream video of the meeting, internet bandwidth permitting, at this link:
http://www.ustream.tv/channel/richastro

Annual Meeting of the Virginia Association of Astronomical Societies, October 3, Charlottesville: The annual meeting of the Virginia Association of Astronomical Societies is being hosted this year by the Charlottesville Astronomical Society. Please see the RAS updates for more details as they become available. More details will be made available on the RAS web site and at http://cvilleastro.com/vaas-2015/. If anyone wishes to help with the VAAS meeting, please contact president@richastro.org or contact the Charlottesville club directly.
East coast Star Party, October 8-10, Coinjock, NC: Casual stargazing in a dark sky coastal environment at the Hampton Lodge Camping Resort. Contact Kent Blackwell for more information at kent@exis.net.
Staunton River Star Party, October 12-18, Staunton River State Park: Excellent facilities in a southern Virginia dark sky. More information at http://www.chaosastro.com/starparty/.

Break

Discussion: ‘Detecting Exoplanets with a DSLR Camera,” Brent Maynard (presented by Jim Browder)
Brent Maynard and Jim Browder presented a method of detecting possible exoplanets. This compares to the method described to us by Emily W at an earlier meeting.
Brent talked about a simple way to use a DSLR to measure or detect light changes. Using photometry, he proposed to measure the flux in the light emitted from the star as the planet made a transit across it.
To start the process, a sample star and planet were selected from the Exoplanet Transit database. Over the course of a few hours during a transit, equipment can detect changes in the star’s magnitude.
Jim demonstrated how IRIS, the photometric software, can be used to detect the expected flux. IRIS is free astronomical software. It is powerfully nice but not user friendly. It gives no error message – you need to recognize that something went wrong. IRIS works by analyzing photos taken over a short period of time. As long as each photo covers the same size and area of the sky, it can detect changes. It will take each photo and align the multiple stars that appear on the photo with the previous photos. It then goes back and analyzes each of the stars in each image for fluctuations in light intensity.
Magnitudes are displayed for each star and can even be charted on a graph.

Brent has a website at http://www.astrogazer.us
The following can be found on his site to help you start looking for exoplanets
http://the-maynards.us/wp/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/transitphotometry.pptx
http://the-maynards.us/wp/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/DetectExoplaneTransitUsingDSLR.pdf



May 2015 Meeting Minutes

Nov 8th, 2015 | By | Category: Meetings

Richmond Astronomical Society
788th Consecutive Meeting
May 12, 2015

Greetings – approximately 29 in attendance at the meeting.
Jim Browder called our meeting to order in the Eureka meeting room

Announcements / Share Table
Box of educational pamphlets and hand-outs
Photo of sun taken by Randy, used UV light filter

Library Report: Virginia Eckert

Welcome Visitors:
Tom Muse
Randy Tatum

Events and Individual Observing:
RAS member observing – Mars, Jupiter, Venus; Madhu set his telescope up in a public area and had 40-50 attendees
Science Museum – weathered out – rain
Astronomy Day – very successful. Many interested visitors. Kudos to Matthew Roy (and Leslie) for organizing a successful Astronomy Day; 17 RAS members helped; Matthew has a follow-up document that the board will discuss at the next board meeting;
Clover Hill – Great views of Jupiter; sky watch moved to Swift Creek Middle (not a bad site)
Pocahontas Middle School – Mars, Jupiter, Venus, approximately 150 attendees, members that helped were MichaelP, BettyW, KenW, Ray (had his 14” dob)
Hallsley

Upcoming Events
Science Museum Skywatch, Friday, May 15, 7:00 PM: Our regular monthly skywatch at the Science Museum is scheduled to start at 7:00 PM! but we might want to have some astronomers set up closer to dusk. If those of us who will be helping out with the skywatch can be at the Museum closer to dusk it would be helpful since there may be visitors at that time.
East Coast Star Party, May 14-16: This year’s spring installment of the East Coast Star Party will be held on May 14-16. This party is one where astronomers always have a good time. It’s very casual and lots of fun. The party location is the Hampton Lodge Campground, Coinjock, NC, next to the Currituck Sound. There is a one-time fee of $20 for the entire star party, but if you are camping, you need to register separately with the campground. Please contact Kent Blackwell for more information at kent@exis.net.
Powhatan State Park Skywatch, Saturday, May 16: RAS and Powhatan State Park will host a skywatch at the Park on May 16 starting at dusk in the equestrian parking area. Please join us if you can. WE NEED HELP WITH THIS EVENT!
Due to conflicting events, we need at least one or two astronomers to commit to being at this skywatch. If anyone can help, please contact either John Raymond at raymond74l9©verizon.net or Jim Browder at president©richastro.org.
RAS Board of Directors Meeting, Monday, May 18, 7:00 PM: RAS Board of Directors Meeting at Extra Billy’s Restaurant on West Broad Street. Dinner reservations at 6:00 PM; meeting begins at 7:00 PM.
Maymont – planned for May 29 (New client)
Bryan Park – May 30 – usually very well attended
RAS Monthly Meeting, Tuesday, June 9, 7:30 PM, Science Museum of Virginia: Please join us for the meeting and, if you can, for dinner at Arby’s, across the street from the Museum about 6:00 PM.
For those that cannot attend the meeting in person, we will stream video of the meeting, internet bandwidth permitting, at the following link:
http://www.ustream.tv/channel/richastro

Belmead on the James Skywatch, Saturday June 13, 7:30 PM: Belmead is a beautiful dark sky location in Powhatan County. Please join us for an indoor discussion session followed by observing into the night near the mansion.
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/llnF3. Once you enter Belmead follow signs to the mansion. Hope to see everyone there.
Green Bank Star Quest, June 17-20: An excellent star party at the Greenbank Observatory in West Virginia. Lots of activities, vendors, dark skies along with radio and visible light astronomy opportunities. This is 4 hours away from Richmond. They have an observatory and science center, radio and visual observing, a control room tour, vendors, door prizes, . . .
More information at http://www.greenbankstarquest.org/.

VAAS – Saturday, October 3, 2015 at Charlottesville. More information soon.

Slide show showed the highlights of our Astronomy Day

Break

Presentation: ‘Open Source Astronomy Software,” Michael Pitchford
Michael discussed things to consider when you are looking for astronomy software.
The best software is
• Free
• Easy to find
• Works out of the box
• Support is free
He commented that Linux-based software has the most free titles. Linux was also used by NASA, CERN, ESO, the India Mars Orbiter program, Mars Rover. Linux is “bullet proof”.
He mentioned the importance of good software for things like Star Maps, Image Processing, and preparation for printed media/displays/publications.
He recommended Stellarium, Cartes du Ceil, and K-Stars

Madhu recommended Hello Northern Sky.

Michael talked about the large variety of apps for our cell phones.

A copy of his handout is below:

Free Astronomy Resources – In no particular order….
A general guide:
• http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-astronomy-software.htm

Sourceforge for Mac and Linux (empty for Win)
• http://sourceforge.net/directory/science-engineering/astronomy/os:mac/freshness:recently-updated/
• http://sourceforge.net/directory/science-engineering/astronomy/os:linux/freshness:recently-updated/

NASA some tools, but mostly info:
• http://heasarc.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/heasarc/astro-update/

The veritable Registax stacker -works with Win and Linux(Wine)
• http://www.astronomie.be/registax/

Iris for Linux
• http://free-astro.vinvin.tf/index.php/Siril

DebianScienceAstronomy – about:
• https://wiki.debian.org/DebianScience/Astronomy
contents in:
• http://blends.debian.org/science/tasks/astronomy
and bricks for building your own:
• http://blends.debian.orp/science/taskslastronomy-dev

The Skychart, free for Linux and Win, additional opportunities to spend money with Mac.
• http://www.ap-i.net/skvchart/en/start

Lots of free stuff, software, even telescope building how to
• http://freeware.intrastar.net/astronmy.htm

Michael Pitchford — Linux installations and help.
• bestopencode@gmail.com



April 2015 Meeting Minutes

Nov 8th, 2015 | By | Category: Meetings

Richmond Astronomical Society
787th Consecutive Meeting
April 14, 2015

Greetings – approximately 41 in attendance at the meeting.
Jim Browder called our meeting to order in the Eureka meeting room

Announcements / Share Table
Staunton River State Park – Dark Sky Park Application
Chris M has eclipse glasses that are being sold by the Astronomical League
John Barnette is selling his 120mm refractor
Leslie is back!!!!!!

Library Report: Virginia Eckert brought in sample books for checking out:
A Day in the Moon (1913) by Abbe Moreux, Director of the Bourges Observatory
The Stars in Their Courses (1931) by Sir James Jeans
Deep Sky Objects, A Photographic Guide for the Amateur (1977) by Jack Newton
The Milky Way (1946) by Bart J Bok and Priscella Bok
Satellite of the Sun (1958) by Athelstan Spilhaus
The Life and Times of Tycho Brahe (1947)

Welcome Visitors:
Bill & Melissa Nelson
Andrew Kusterer
Tristen Hall
Laura Greenleaf

Events and Individual Observing:
RAS member observing – Jupiter, Mars, & Venus,
Science Museum – weathered out – windy & cold,
Staunton River Star Party – 1 night – very nice crowd and viewing, good weather
NOVAC expedition – Great Meadows, great crowd, good skies

Upcoming Events
Science Museum Skywatch, Friday, April 17, 7:00 PM: Our regular monthly skywatch at the Science Museum is scheduled to start at 7:00 PM.
National Dark Sky Week, April 13-19: Celebrate the stars! Created in 2003 by then local high-school student Jennifer Barlow, of Midlothian, Virginia, International Dark Sky Week has grown to become a worldwide event and a key component of Global Astronomy Month. “I want people to be able to see the wonder of the night sky without the effects of light pollution. The universe is our view into our past and our vision into the future. . . I want to help preserve its wonder.” — Jennifer Barlow
Astronomy Day at the Science Museum, Saturday, April 25, 10:00 AM — 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 contact Jim Browder at presidentrichastro.org if you can help out with the event. We need volunteers to work indoors at the exhibits and outdoors at the solar observing and water rockets. Betty will be there with her meteorites. We need bottles for bottle rockets. If interested in helping anyway, please contact Matthew Roy!!
Clover Hill High School, April 23rd : Skywatch hosted by the Clover Hill High School Astronomy Club at the Journey Christian Church, coordinated by RAS member Nando Pascual. Please contact president@richastro.org if you can help.
RAS Observatory Open House, Saturday, April 25, 7:30 PM: This event has been canceled —future open house to be scheduled at a later date.
Pocahontas Middle School, Saturday, May 2: Skywatch and “Relay for Life” at Pocahontas Middle School in Henrico County. Please contact presidentrichastro.org if you can help with this event. Betty is the coordinator.
Hallsley neighborhood, Saturday, May 2, 8:30 PM, 3900 Brightwalton Rd: Skywatch for the Hallsley neighborhood. Please contact John Raymond at raymond7419@verizon.net if you can help with this skywatch.
RAS Monthly Meeting, Tuesday, May 12, 7:30 PM: The next meeting of the Richmond Astronomical Society will be on Tuesday, May 12, 7:30 PM at the Science Museum of Virginia. Please join us for the meeting and, if you can, for dinner at Arby’s, across the street from the Museum about 6:00 PM. For those that cannot attend the meeting in person, we will stream video of the meeting, internet bandwidth permitting, at this link: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/richastro.
East Coast Star Party, May 14-16: Avery casual, fun star party at the Hampton Lodge Campground, Coinjock, NC. There is a one-time fee of $20 for the entire star party, but if you are camping, you need to register separately with the campground. Please contact Kent Blackwell for more information at kent@exis.net.
Powhatan State Park Skywatch, Saturday, May 16: RAS and Powhatan State Park will host a skywatch at the Park on May 16 starting at dusk in the equestrian parking area. Please join us if you can. Contact John Raymond at raymond74l9@verizon.net for more information.
Bryan Park at end of May (TBD)
RAS needs volunteer help in April and May! This is a good problem to have, but we have received a number of requests to support astronomy/observing events in late April and early May this year. We are grateful for all of the interest in astronomy, but we need some assistance in covering as many of the events as we can. If you can find some time in April and May to help with these events, we would very much appreciate it — we want to make sure each event has sufficient volunteer astronomers.

Break

Presentation: “Virginia Dark Skies Update,” Laura Greenleaf, Virginia Chapter of the International Dark Sky Association
Laura Greenleaf and Laura Graham spoke about the importance of conserving the dark sky environment. They discussed what can be done locally in the neighborhoods and homes.
A few responsible standards include
• Aim down: lighting fixtures that are angled downward to the ground instead of upwards.
• Small wattage
• Shield to block light from shining where you don’t want it
• Sensers in the house to turn lights off

IDA (International Dark-Sky Association) has a sample letter that we can use to communicate to neighbors and to encourage local ordinance requests.

Someone commented that VDOT has lights shining up on highway signs instead of downward.

A local 2003 high school student, Jennifer Barlow, started the Dark Sky Week which has become an international interest, celebrated every April.

They explained the establishment of different Dark Sky places around the world starting in 2001 to encourage communities around the world to preserve and protect dark sites.
They are categorized into 4 different categories by its closeness to population and by its sky quality. The 4 categories are
1) International Dark Sky Communities (municipalities that have adopted lighting ordinances and strive to educate its citizens). The closest to here is Homer Glen, Illinois (2011)

2) International Dark Sky Parks (natural area with structures lighting and used for educational purposes)
Staunton River has become the 4th darkest sky park
Others in this region are Arcadea and Cherry Springs in North Penn. Spruce Knob in WV. Chapel Hill Astronomical and observational society has been awarded a bronze level of achievement

3) International Dark Sky Reserves (a dark area that is supported by population with the intent to protect the dark environment)
Example: Westhavelland Natural Park in Germany (2014)

4) International Dark Sky Sanctuaries (remote and naturally dark area):
Associated Universities for Research in Astronomy Observatory in Chile
Chile (1998) was the 1st country to establish a National policy to limit 2014 limit blue and UV emissions around observatories.

Two websites that are recommended are:
www.darksky.org
www.eyesonthesky.com

If you need to contact Laura, you may address her at lauragreenleaf@verizon.net

Every amateur Astronomer should be members of the IDA. We all need to react locally to fight light pollution. The Richmond Astronomical Society is an IDS club.

We were presented with a question that will affect wide reaching areas of our life style -“What do we lose when we lose the night?”



March 2015 Meeting Minutes

Nov 8th, 2015 | By | Category: Meetings

Richmond Astronomical Society
786th Consecutive Meeting
March 10, 2015

Greetings – approximately 45 in attendance at the meeting.
Jim Browder called our meeting to order in the Eureka meeting room

Announcements / Share Table
• Member Recognition: One of our members, Fernando Pascual-Marquez, has been selected as a nominee of the week for the 2014-2015 Lexus Pursuit of Perfection Leadership Award. Jim played a short video and interview of Fernando about his athletic and educational accomplishments. At the time, Fernando had not arrived at the meeting. When he did arrive, we greeted him with applause as he entered the door. He didn’t know the reason for the greeting until Jim played the video a few minutes later. One of his accomplishments is starting an Astronomy club at the Math & Science School at Clover Hill High. Good work, congratulations, and good luck!
• Ken Wilson suggested an idea to present the best RAS astro-photos. Submit your best photos by November’s meeting. Twelve (12) will be selected to be made into a calendar for 2016.
• John Raymond had equipment on sale.
• Assorted magazines were for perusing and taking.
• Meteorites for Betty’s talk.
• Dave’s honor to Leonard Nimoy, who just passed away. Dave had a telescope advertisement that had Leonard Nimoy on it. It happened to be the same telescope that Dave has been using for years. To top that off, Dave was dressed in the same colors and suit jacket as Leonard Nimoy. Live long and Prosper.

Welcome Visitors:
• Tom Muse, past RAS Vice-President
• David Winslow
• Dave Toth
• Philip C Pedersen

Events and Individual Observing:
• RAS member observing: Our members mentioned the sightings of Jupiter, Venus, ISS, and an occultation of a star in Gemini.
• Betty and Ken Wilson held a skywatch for 18 boy scouts
• Science Museum skywatch – small crowd

Upcoming Events
Science Museum Skywatch, Friday, March 20, 7:00 PM: Our regular monthly skywatch at the Science Museum is scheduled to start at 7:00 PM on the 20th, but we might want to have some astronomers set up closer to dusk. If those of us who will be helping out with the skywatch can be at the Museum closer to dusk it would be helpful since there may be visitors at that time.

RAS Monthly Meeting, Tuesday, April 14, 7:30 PM: The next meeting of the Richmond Astronomical Society will be on Tuesday, April 14, 7:30 PM at the Science Museum of Virginia. Please join us for the meeting and, if you can, for dinner at Arby’s, across the street from the Museum about 6:00 PM.
For those that cannot attend the meeting in person, we will stream video of the meeting, internet bandwidth permitting, at the following link:
http://www.ustream.tv/channel/richastro

Skywatch at Belmead, March 14, 7:00 PM: 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 CarterslIe Road, Powhatan, VA. A Google Map showing the location is at this link: https://goo.gI/maps/llnF3.
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 5:00pm at the mansion.

Staunton River Star Party, March 19-22: Registration is now open! Thanks to all the good support, the Chapel Hill Astronomical and Observational Society is able to continue to hold the SRSP twice a year. They look forward to having astronomers join them between March 19th and 22nd this year at Staunton River State Park near Scottsburg, VA. As before, the spring version of the star party is a lower-key affair just three nights, but this year the Richmond Astronomical Society is holding a day of informal talks during the spring star party. Check out the SRSP web site (http://www.chaosastro.com/starparty/l) for more information and look under “Schedule” link to see the list of talks. Jim Browder will be one of the speakers.

RAS Open house at the observatory, March 28, 2015 from sunset till ???. We will be looking at the Moon and Jupiter, and anything else we can find.

Break

Presentation: “History of Meteorites” by Betty Wilson
Betty has a very interesting hobby – collecting meteorites. She gave us a history of major events:
• The first meteorite on record to be seen is the Ensisheim meteorite. It fell on November 7, 1492 in a field outside of Ensisheim in Alsace. Locals began breaking off pieces to keep, but King Maximilian ordered it to be preserved. The meteorite can still be seen in Ensisheim’s museum.
• Ernst F F Chladni made a controversial proposal that meteorites are from outer space. He became the ‘father’ of meteorite research.
• The Wold Cottage meteorite fell near Wold Cottage farm at around 3 o’clock, on December 13, 1795. It was seen by several people, claiming it was hot and smoking when they found it. It has been preserved in a London museum.
• The Krasnojarsk meteorite was found in 1749 and was the first pallasite meteorite ever found. This means it was composed of metals and crystals. Acid was used to clean it and it was the first one to show the Widmanstätten pattern.
• Betty told us about a brief afternoon shower of meteorites falling on L’Aigle, France on April 26, 1803.
• The 1st to be seen in the US fell in Weston, Connecticut on December 14, 1807.
• One of the largest iron meteorites found was the Cape York meteorite, found in Greenland. It was broken into several pieces and was shipped away piece by piece through rough stormy seas. Robert Peary sold one of them to fund his arctic exploration.
• The 1st iron meteorite to be seen during a fall was over Sikhote-Alin in Russia on February 12, 1947. It broke into pieces as it fell. Scientists tracked its projection and determined it came from the asteroid belt.
• Williamette was the largest iron-nickel meteorite to fall in the US (Oregon in 1902), and was the 6th largest in the world. It was approximately 32,000 pounds. Legend has it landing 13,000 years ago in Canada and brought down to the US by a glacier.
• Historic uses of meteorites have been on display in museums. It has been used in anvils, jewelry, beads, and knife blades.
• Meteorites have hit building, cars, animals, and people. Ann Hodges was the 1st human to be injured by one as it hit her on November 30, 1954 in Sylacauga, Alabama.
• On October 9, 1980, one hit a 1980 Chevrolet Malibu in Peekskill, NY. Several different videos of it falling can be found on Youtube.
• One of the most recent sightings was a superbolide, exploding 18 miles over Chelyabinsk, Russia on February 15, 2013. It may be the most video-taped sighting ever. It was confirmed to have resulted in the largest number of injuries.
• A local landing was in Lorton, Virginia on January 18, 2010 between 5:30-5:45 pm.

More information on meteorites can be found on www.youtube.com and at www.amsmeteors.org , the American Meteor Society website.



Meeting Minutes

Apr 13th, 2015 | By | Category: Meetings

October 2015 Meeting Minutes

September 2015 Meeting Minutes

August 2015 Meeting Minutes

July 2015 Meeting Minutes

May 2015 Meeting Minutes

April 2015 Meeting Minutes

March 2015 Meeting Minutes

February 2015 Meeting Minutes

January 2015 Meeting Minutes

December 2014 Meeting Minutes

November 2014 Meeting Minutes

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RAS Board Meeting – November 16, 2015 – Extra Billy’s on West Broad St

Dinner starts at 6:00pm; Meeting starts at 7:00pm

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Guy Ottewell Astronomical Calendar 2016 – $29.95

The 43rd, finest, and final issue of this famous yearbook.

www.universalworkshop.com 1-800-533-5083

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February 2015 Meeting Minutes

Apr 13th, 2015 | By | Category: Meetings

Richmond Astronomical Society
785th Consecutive Meeting
February 10, 2015

Greetings – approximately 46 in attendance at the meeting.
Jim Browder called our meeting to order in the Eureka meeting room

Announcements / Share Table
• John Raymond selling lenses and eyepieces. He also passed around an Amateur Astronomy magazine.
• Betty and Ken Wilson are giving away an assortment of Virginia Space posters.
• Madhu is trying to sell a used 8” reflector telescope in fair condition.

Library Report:
Virginia brought in a large assortment of books from the library:
• The Amateur’s Guide to the Messier Objects by William J. Busler (1967)
• Finder Charts of the Messier Objects by Brent Watson (1993)
• The Nature of Light and Colour in the Open Air (Mirages, Haloes, shadows, double rainbows, …) by M. Minnaert (1954)
• The Short History of Astronomy From Earliest Times through the 19th Century by Arthur Berry (1961, republication from original work done in 1898 by John Murray)
• Evolution of Stars and Galaxies by Walter Baade (1975)
• Galaxies by Harlow Shapley (1943)
• 100 Billion Suns – The Birth, Life, and Death of the Stars by Rudolf Kippenhaln (1983)
• Stars and Galaxies by David J. Eicher (1992)

Welcome Visitors:
• Dahlgren Vaughan
• Tom Muse
• Tom Hall

Events and Individual Observing:
• RAS member observing: several sightings of Comet Lovejoy. Ray Moody observed a good view of the comet’s tail. Several others mentioned seeing Venus, Mars, and Jupiter.
• Science Museum skywatch: too cold

Upcoming Events
RAS Board of Directors Meeting, February 16, 7:00 PM: RAS Board of Directors Meeting at Extra Billy’s Restaurant on West Broad Street. Dinner reservations at 6:00 PM; meeting begins at 7:00 PM.

Science Museum Skywatch, Friday, February 20, 7:00 PM: Our regular monthly skywatch at the Science Museum is scheduled to start at 7:00 PM on the 20th, but we might want to have some astronomers set up closer to dusk. If those of us who will be helping out with the skywatch can be at the Museum closer to dusk it would be helpful since there may be visitors at that time.

Skywatch at Petersburg Battlefield March 7, 6:30 PM: Skywatch at Petersburg Battlefield National Park. Eastern Front visitor center. Contact John Raymond for more information at raymond7419@verizon.net

RAS Monthly Meeting, Tuesday, March 10, 7:30 PM: The next meeting of the Richmond Astronomical Society will be on Tuesday, March 10, 7:30 PM at the Science Museum of Virginia. Please join us for the meeting and, if you can, for dinner at Arby’s, across the street from the Museum about 6:00 PM.
For those that cannot attend the meeting in person, we will stream video of the meeting, internet bandwidth permitting, at the following link:
http://www.ustream.tv/channel/richastro

Skywatch at Belmead, March 14, 7:00 PM: 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 CarterslIe Road, Powhatan, VA. A Google Map showing the location is at this link: https://goo.gI/maps/llnF3.
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 5:00pm at the mansion.

Staunton River Star Party, March 19-22: Registration is now open! Thanks to all the good support, the Chapel Hill Astronomical and Observational Society is able to continue to hold the SRSP twice a year. They look forward to having astronomers join them between March 19th and 22nd this year at Staunton River State Park near Scottsburg, VA. As before, the spring version of the star party is a lower-key affair just three nights, but this year the Richmond Astronomical Society is holding a day of informal talks during the spring star party. Check out the SRSP web site (http://www.chaosastro.com/starparty/l) for more information and look under “Schedule” link to see the list of talks.

Ken showed us an advertisement for a cruise to see the next solar eclipse, that had 3 big errors in it.

Break

Presentation: “Exoplanet Detection.” Emily Wroblewski
Emily Wroblewski is a sophomore at the Math & Science school at Clover Hill and has researched and developed an extremely involved astronomy project. Its title is “Detecting an Exoplanet by Measuring a Star’s Change in Magnitude Due to a Transit”

Emily explained her research by starting with the fact that there are approximately 400 existing exoplanets where only 60 of them have transits across a star’s surface. The actual numbers were 311 non-transits, 16 FTE (faint transits) and 46 BTE (bright transits).
She got a lot of advice and help from a book named “Exoplanet Observing For Amateurs” by Bruce Gary. She selected HAT-P-54 in Gemini as her star of study. It is a 3.5 magnitude star that is 432-454 light years away from Earth. One of the biggest problems observing and measuring the light intensity from the star was due to the light polluted skies in her area. Therefore, her research was performed on selected clear nights when a planetary transit across the star was expected. She used a CCD camera with an effective temperature of -30 C, and FocusMax software to measure the brightness of 20 reference stars along with 226 images taken of the light from HAT-P-54.
Her results formed a wave similar to a single sine wave. That definitely displayed that there was a change in light intensity due to the transit.
Based on size, expected gravitational and atmospheric pressure, the planet in transit across the star was expected to not be habitable.
Emily shared her data with a university that gave her some assistance, and her data cam within 10% of their professional measurements. WOW!
Emily will be making the same presentation at the Metro Richmond Science Fair on March 14. Good luck!



January 2015 Meeting Minutes

Apr 13th, 2015 | By | Category: Meetings

Richmond Astronomical Society
784th Consecutive Meeting
January 13, 2015

Greetings – approximately 36 in attendance at the meeting.
Jim Browder called our meeting to order in the Eureka meeting room

Announcements / Share Table:
Ken Wilson displayed a photo of Comet Lovejoy, taken in Arizona. Also displayed a photo of M79 taken through a 16” Schmidt
John Raymond had odds and ends for sale (eyepieces, solar filters, compass, collimator, color filters)
Jim showed a video, “Gigapixels of Andromeda”, released on Jan 5, 2015 on spacetelescope.org.
SMV is in the process of remodeling, repairing, and painting the ceiling of the Rotunda.
Books donated by the family of Jim Petty

Dues are due: RAS membership dues for 2015 are due by the end of this year. Please pay our treasurer, Jim Blowers, by mail, in person or by PayPal. Dues for regular membership are $30 per year; $10 additional if you wish to be an observatory operator. Mailing address and PayPal link are on the RAS website under the “About RAS” tab. Many thanks for everyone’s support of RAS; your dues payments are used to pay for Astronomical League membership, club insurance, observing activities and education/outreach efforts.

Library Report: Virginia Eckert
The RAS library is in “good shape”. 7 books were brought in for display and possible checking out. They were:
• Stars: A Golden Nature Guide by Herbert S. Zim (1956)
• Seeing Stars by W. B. White (1935)
• Mars : The Mysterious Landscapes of the Red Planet by William K. Hartmann (2003)
• Meteors by Charles P Olivier, past Associate Professor of Astronomy at UVA and astronomer at the Leander McCormick Observatory (1925)
• Astronomy with Binoculars by James Muirden (1963)
• The Measures of All Things by Ken Adler (2002)
• Mars – The Mystery Unfolds by Peter Cattermole (2001)

Events and Individual Observing:
RAS member observing: Many members observed Venus and Mercury paired up above the west horizon, and Mars farther to the east. A few observed Comet Lovejoy through binoculars, describing it as a greenish fuzzy blob with no observable tail. The green glow is caused by a Cyanogen molecule (CN)2. The comet was discovered by Terry Lovejoy on August 5, 2014. It has an expected 11,500 year orbit.
Several photos by Alan Dyer, Gerald Rhemann, and Chris Schur, were shown to the club. Several club members had their own photos, too, including Randy Tatum, John Barnette, Jim Browder, and a beautiful photo by Madhu Rathi.
John observed NGC 185 and NGC 147 in Cassiopeia and Andromeda regions.
Ken and Betty Wilson had a skywatch for the girl scouts to help them earn their night owl badges. Skies were not clear, causing less observing, but more classroom presentation.
Jupiter’s red spot is in view, but not as good as past years.
December Science Museum skywatch had a pretty light crowd due to the cold

Science Museum Skywatch, Friday, January 16, 7:00 PM: Our regular monthly skywatch at the Science Museum is scheduled to start at 7:00 PM on the 16th, weather permitting, but we might want to have some astronomers set up around dusk. If those of us who will be helping out with the skywatch can be at the Museum closer to dusk it would be helpful since there may be visitors at that time.

RAS Monthly Meeting, Tuesday, February 10, 7:30 PM: The next meeting of the Richmond Astronomical Society will be on Tuesday, February 10, 7:30 PM at the Science Museum of Virginia. Please join us for the meeting and, if you can, for dinner at Arby’s, across the street from the Museum about 6:00 PM.
For those that cannot attend the meeting in person, we will stream video of the meeting, internet bandwidth permitting, at the following link:
http://www.ustream.tv/channel/richastro

Messier Marathon at Belmead, March — date to be announced (maybe a week prior to Staunton River star party): The Francis Emma organization and RAS will host an observing session and lecture open to the public at Belmead on the James. Observers may stay as long as they like — March is the time of year when one can see all or most of the Messier objects in one night. Please join us and bring a telescope if you can.

Staunton River Star Party, March 19-22: Registration is now open for the Staunton River Star Party at Staunton River State Park hosted by the Chapel Hill Astronomical and Observation al Society (CHAOS). More information at this link http://www.chaosastro.com/starparty/
Expected to be an excellent star party. RAS is expecting to host speakers at SRSP, including Jim Browder as 1 of the speakers.

Facebook and Richastro E-mail list: For those that don’t already know, RAS has a Facebook page and a Yahoo group E-mail list. Links to participate in these forums are below:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/22148662766/
Richastro Yahoo Group / E-mail list: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/richastro/info
(Note that you may be required to establish a Yahoo ID in order to join this list)

Welcome Visitors:
• Bill & Melissa Nelson (Jim Browder helped to assemble his telescope)
• Andrew Kusterer
• Tristen Hall

Comet Lovejoy Update: Observations and images by RAS members and others
Several photos by Alan Dyer, Gerald Rhemann, and Chris Schur, were shown to the club. Several club members had their own photos, too, including Randy Tatum, John Barnette, Jim Browder, and a beautiful photo by Madhu Rathi.

Break

Presentation: “What’s Happening at NASA,” Ted Bethune
Ted gave us a brief photographic explanation of what we should be expecting in the future from NASA and for space exploration. He started off talking about the next group of NASA astronauts, and showed several photos of ISS exploration and photos of past spacewalks. Attention was given to the ATV missions to the ISS, performed by the European Space Agency.
Next came the artist’s conception of the future rockets on launch pads, especially for Virginia and Florida. This included the idea of the SPACEX Falcon 9 (reusable launch vehicle having 9 engines) and the SPACEX Dragon, to take supplies to ISS. He also briefly discussed the concept behind the Copernicus-B being fueled by liquid hydrogen and oxygen. There may even be remote controlled spacecrafts, especially by the Russions.
Ted included an overview of the Antares goal of earth orbit and taking supplies to the ISS, and photos of its explosion shortly after launch.
He explained the Orion’s concept of using 2 heat shields during re-entry.
There were photos of 3 types of space suits – old original version, the version used for the moon landings, and a possible design for future exploration.
He also reminded us of future events in our solar system, including updates by the Curiosity rover, explorations of Saturn and moons, a rendezvous with Ceres, Juno-Jupiter orbiter, and the approach of New Horizon to Pluto for the summer of 2015.



December 2014 Meeting Minutes

Apr 13th, 2015 | By | Category: Meetings

Richmond Astronomical/Gastronomical Society
783rd Consecutive Meeting
December 9, 2014

Greetings – approximately 35 in attendance at the meeting.
Jim Browder called our meeting to order in a downstairs meeting room.

Announcements / Share Table:
Mike Holland displayed some very exceptional photos that he took of the Antares explosion at Wallops Island.
Tim and Karen Streagel were among 4 observers on the web watching our meeting (and our eating).
Jim Blowers had 2 more 2015 calendars for sale at $6.50.
Due to nature of our holiday celebrations, RAS gave out an RAS mug. The winner of the drawing was Scott Kozel.
Please take a look at the RAS café website: http://www.cafepress.com/richastroshop . You may find a nice gift for someone.

2015 RAS Officers: Your 2015 club officers have been elected. For those that do not know, the RAS officers are elected each November from the newly installed Board of Directors. The 2015 officers are Jim Browder, president; Matthew Roy, vice-president; Chris McCann, secretary; Jim Blowers, treasurer; and John Raymond, observatory director. Many thanks to the 2014 officers and to the 2015 officers for being willing to handle our club’s business matters.

Dues are due: RAS membership dues for 2015 are due by the end of this year. Please pay our treasurer, Jim Blowers, by mail, in person or by PayPal. Dues for regular membership are $30 per year; $10 additional if you wish to be an observatory operator. Mailing address and PayPal link are here. Many thanks for everyone’s support of RAS; your dues payments are used to pay for Astronomical League membership, club insurance, observing activities and education/outreach efforts.

Events and Individual Observing: RAS member observing,
Science Museum cancelled in November
Madhu had a photo of 1C396, where the dark part of the nebula looked like a skier

Welcome Visitors: Members, significant others, and family members

Skywatch at Belmead, Saturday, December 13, 6:30 PM: RAS and the Francis Emma organization will host a skywatch and a talk at Belmead on the James in Powhatan. We will digitally reconstruct what the night sky looked like 2000 years ago and speculate together on what the Christmas star might have been. 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. Please let Jim Browder know if you can participate in this event at president@richastro.org. 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/llnF3. Once you enter Belmead follow signs to the mansion. Hope to see everyone there — Belmead is a beautiful dark sky location. Note that the start time was previously advertised as 7:00 PM. The correct time is 6:30.

Science Museum Skywatch, Friday, December 19, 7:00 PM: Our regular monthly skywatch at the Science Museum is scheduled to start at 7:00 PM on the 19th, but we might want to have some astronomers set up closer to dusk. If those of us who will be helping out with the skywatch can be at the Museum closer to dusk it would be helpful since there may be visitors at that time.

Asteroid Occultation December 12: Star TYC 1405-01528-1 (mag 9.3) will be occulted by asteroid 1428 Mombasa in the early morning hours of December 12 and is expected to be visible from the Richmond area. For those interested in timing or recording the occultation, more information is available at these links:
http://www.asteroidoccultation.com/2014_12/1212_1428_33375_MapNA.gif
http://www.asteroidoccultation.com/2014_12/1212_1428_33375.htm

RAS Monthly Meeting, Tuesday, January 13, 7:30 PM: The next meeting of the Richmond Astronomical Society will be on Tuesday, January 13, 7:30 PM at the Science Museum of Virginia. Please join us for the meeting and, if you can, for dinner before the meeting at Arby’s across the street from the Museum about 6:00 PM.



Meeting Minutes

Nov 16th, 2014 | By | Category: Meetings

February 2015 Meeting Minutes

January 2015 Meeting Minutes

December 2014 Meeting Minutes

November 2014 Meeting Minutes

October 2014 Meeting Minutes

September 2014 Meeting Minutes

August 2014 Meeting Minutes

July 2014 Meeting Minutes

June 2014 Meeting Minutes

May 2014 Meeting Minutes

April 2014 Meeting Minutes

March 2014 Meeting Minutes

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RAS Board Meeting – May 18, 2015 – Extra Billy’s on West Broad St

Dinner starts at 6:00

Meeting starts at 7:00