Richmond Astronomical Society

VAAS 2011

Oct 2nd, 2011 | By | Category: Events

Back Bay Amateur Astronomers

The annual meeting of the Virginia Association of Astronomical Societies was hosted this year by our friends, the Back Bay Amateur Astronomers, on Saturday, October 1, in Virginia Beach at Tidewater Community College. From the Richmond area we had Jim Blowers, Daryl Douglas, Bill Jeffries, Dave Medici, Dave Walton, Betty Wilson, Ken Wilson me.

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Kevin Mitchell discussing exo-planet research

We met in the planetarium at Tidewater Community College which is an extremely convenient and comfortable facility for this sort of meeting. A nearby classroom served as a break room with donuts and coffee. The Back Bay Astronomers had lined up two planetarium presentations along with several speakers including Donner Grigsby (NASA Langley) regarding recent NASA projects, Carlos Salgado (Norfolk State University) regarding the Rapid Response Robotic Telescope on Fan Mountain and its applications, Kevin Mitchell (Norfolk State University) regarding exo-planet hunting using the transit method, and Mark Ost regarding lunar geology and associated outreach..

VAAS 2012 "Save the Date" card

Presidents and officers of the VAAS member clubs had a short meeting to discuss some Astronomical League updates and to plan for next year’s VAAS meeting which will be hosted by the Richmond Astronomical Society. All of the club representatives offered very helpful suggestions for future meetings. The scheduled date and location for the 2012 gathering is September 15, 2012 at the Heart of Virginia Scout Reservation in Goochland.

Tidewater Community College Observatory

We were also treated to a tour of the Tidewater Community College observatory which is a well-constructed, well-equipped and spacious roll-back roof design. Housed in the observatory are:

20″ (0.51m) Planewave Corrected Dall – Kirkham Cassegrain Reflector
150 mm (6″) Takahashi TOA Refractor
Meade LX-200
Celestron Ultima
Celestron Powerstar
H-alpha filter for solar observing
Pictor 1616 CCD Imaging system.

Observing at York River State Park

After the presentations, the Back Bay Astronomers hosted us at York River State Park for some night time viewing. The York River State Park is a great dark sky location and the park administrators have been very helpful in terms of allowing astronomers to use the site at night.  Thanks to Daryl Douglas for helping with making the site available for us. Early in the evening, the sky was highly variable, with some periods of cloudiness, some periods of heavy rain and other periods of clear sky from horizon to horizon. Unfortunately, as the evening progressed, a relatively clear sky changed to broken clouds and then to mostly cloudy conditions. It was a comfortable, slightly cool, evening, but clear enough for only limited viewing. While we were at the site, we were treated to nice views of the Veil Nebula, North American Nebula and Caroline’s Rose. We also deployed a night vision device, which was the closest thing we had to a cloud filter. Surprisingly, it allowed us to have interesting views of M13 and M57 through light haze.

Many thanks once again to the Back Bay Astronomers and to all of the guest speakers. We know it takes a lot of effort and coordination to put together these meetings and we appreciate all that goes into it. For me one of the best parts of the annual VAAS meeting is the opportunity to connect and observe with fellow astronomers from around the state. We look forward to seeing everyone at next year’s meeting and at other events this fall and into next year.

Regards,

Jim Browder
Richmond Astronomical Society

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