Richmond Astronomical Society

April 2013 Meeting Minutes

Jul 10th, 2013 | By | Category: Meetings

Richmond Astronomical Society

763rd Consecutive Meeting

April 9, 2013



Greetings – approximately 32 in attendance at the meeting.

Jim Browder called our meeting to order in the Eureka meeting room.


Announcements / Share Table

Antares on launch pad – scheduled to launch 4/17 at 5pm

Civil Air Patrol offers teachers a free kit to teach Astronomy

John has a webcam for sale, and a Meade 8” Newtonian telescope (with no mount)


Possible Telescope Donation:  The widow of an early member of the RAS has asked that we accept a donation of some telescope equipment and a number of astronomy books which she believes to be of some value.  Unfortunately the equipment and books are in Atlanta.  Moving the equipment will require on-site de-installation from an observatory.  Realizing that this will be a significant undertaking, if anyone is interested in traveling to Atlanta to remove the equipment and transport it and the book collection back to Richmond, please contact Jim Browder at  Although this is a considerable effort, we are attempting to accommodate the request to the extent possible as a tribute to our former member who was one of the original constructors of the Ragland Observatory.  At this time the potential donor has asked to remain anonymous.  Based on her description, it will likely require two people to do the work.


Library Report – all is well at RAC

Books that Virginia brought in:

  • Microcomputer Control of Telescopes
  • Through the Telescope – A Story of the Stars (1936)
  • Observing Comets, Asteroids, Meteors, and the Zodiacal Light
  • Eight Easy Observing Planets
  • The Monthly Sky Guide
  • Nightwatch
  • The Star Book



Events and Individual Observing

Recent Events:

SMV skywatch – clouded out, but cleared up late in evening

RavenCon – Jim made a 10 minute video showing the attendees and interesting activities.

Petersburg – bad weather, but try again on 4/27

Brandermill – Good Friday, weather was bad

Metro Richmond Science Fair – no astronomy projects


Upcoming Events:

  • Science Museum February Skywatch, Friday, April 19:  This month’s skywatch at the Science Museum will be held just prior to Astronomy Day under moon that is a bit past first quarter.
  • Belmead on the James Skywatch, Saturday, April 20, 7:00 PM: Skywatch at Belmead on the James / Thomas Berry Educational Center, Powhatan. RAS will deploy astronomers and telescopes for the event and there will be an indoor introductory session prior to the observing session. This is an easily accessible dark sky location with plenty of parking adjacent to the observing site. Please contact Jim Browder at if you can help with this event. More info about Belmead and the Thomas Berry Educational Center is at
  • Astronomy Day, Sunday, April 21, 12:00 PM- 4:30 PM, Science Museum of Virginia:  This year’s spring Astronomy Day will be celebrated on April 21 at the Science Museum. Prashant Reddy is coordinating this year’s volunteer support.  Please let him know if you can help with the event at reddypva@verizon,net. 
  • Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF), April 20 – 21, Rockland Community College, Suffern, NY:  NEAF is the premier astronomy products event in the eastern US.  It’s a great experience if you can make it.  More information about the event is at

  • Petersburg National Battlefield Skywatch, Saturday, April 27, 6:00 PM: Skywatch at Petersburg National Battlefield/City Point – please contact Ray Moody at if you can bring a telescope to this event or for more information.


  • John Rolfe Middle School – April 23, 6:30-8:00





Welcome to our visitors:

  • Evan Roll
  • Omar Hassan
  • Terry Barker
  • Scott Dieken





Presentation: “Building an Astronomical Imaging System,” Jerry Hubbell, President, Rappahannock Astronomy Club (


Jerry Hubbell spoke to our group about a favorite topic of his and many others – astronomical imaging. Throughout his talk, Jerry passed on many suggestions and considerations to improve techniques of imaging, which can be applied to all parts of the hobby of astronomy.


  1. Patience is the key ingredient in getting best results.
  2. Invest in yourself – an Astronomical Imaging System (AIS) is a combination of equipment, skills, knowledge, and your time.
  3. When creating images, decide before hand what you want to observe.
  4. To find procedures to help you perform at your very highest levels, you need to research photometry, astrometry, and spectroscopy.
  5. Establish a standard or custom operating procedure that fits your situation.  Always allow yourself time and discipline when using your equipment.  Always follow a policy when handling or allowing others to use your equipment, even if it’s just for a few seconds.  Always allow your self sufficient time to set up and break down your equipment, by establishing a routine of your own.
  6. Use a balanced approach when acquiring equipment, by spending resources on yourself, and get equipment that you will be using.
  7. Use an engineering approach to design and implement your observing program using a scientific design and an implementation philosophy.
  8. Make goals – not just use equipment.
  9. Document procedures that are successful for you.
  10. Share your results with others.
  11. Join clubs and groups – very effective in keeping you motivated.


Useful websites and topics to search on the internet:

    • AAVSO – variable stars
    • Lowell Observatory
    • Society of Astronomical Science (SAS)
    • Galaxy Zoo
    • Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers (SARA)
    • Scientific Astrophotography




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