Richmond Astronomical Society

February Meeting Minutes

Apr 8th, 2012 | By | Category: Meetings

RichmondAstronomical Society

749th Consecutive Meeting

February 14, 2012



Jim Browder called our meeting to order in theEurekaroom.


Greetings – approximately 22 in attendance at the meeting.

Happy Valentine’s Day!!


Annual dues are due. $30 for a regular membership; $10 more to be an observatory operator; discount subscriptions are available to Sky & Telescope and Astronomy. You can pay by check to Jim Blowers or by PayPal at this link:

If you joined our organization after July 1, 2011 your dues payment will be applied to this year.


Share Table

Prashant demonstrated the use of red lights to highlight the tripod and its legs during skywatches.  He also showed us some of his glow tape and glow sheets he has been looking for, and recently purchased.  This will also be used to mark the legs and footings of the tripods, to prevent accidental kicking of the scope.  The glow sheets had a glow life about the length of our meeting, even though they were ‘powered up’ by distant ceiling lighting, and not point blank lighting.

We got an email asking about how to build a “Barn-door tracker”.  To prove this is a valid item, John Barnett brought in a 30-year old “Barn-door tracker”.  After describing it as a “precision piece of work”, he showed us how it was manually adjusted to keep the scope aimed at the same location in the sky.  It had holes to handle sidereal rate and lunar rate.


Library Report

Virginiareported no problems with the library.  She brought in 5 books:

  • Observing Comets, Asteroids, Meteor, and the Zodiacal Light
  • Satellites of the Sun
  • Life on Other Worlds (Ragland used to own this book)
  • The Lunar Rocks
  • Our Moon


Events and Individual Observing

Recent Events:

Civil Air Patrol skywatch – Considering the location, it was a surprisingly good sight and had good skies. really good skywatch; cadets were very polite; lots of questions; lot of fun.




Upcoming Events:

  • Science Museum Skywatch, February 17: Please sign up if you can bring a telescope. More information is at The RAS skywatch will start at dusk.
  • Livesky is at 6pm prior to skywatch.  Topic: “Space Junk: The Earth is a Hoarder”
  • Elko Middle School Science Night, March 5: If interested please advise Jim Browder at
  • PocahontasState Park, June 23: If interested please advise Jim Browder at
  • RAS meeting, March 13: Please join us if you can. A number of us also gather before the meeting at Arby’s across the street from the Museum about 6:00 PM
  • Staunton River Star Party, March 21-25:StauntonRiverState Park(Scottsburg/South Boston/Clarksville VA area): For more information see
  • 2012 Astro Events: Be sure to read John Goss’ article on some great observing opportunities for amateur astronomers in 2012 in the Richastro Blog at




We had 1 new visitor: Nancy Nichols, a friend of David Medici.


Short Talk:

Astroimages Hot Off the Press!,  by Tim Streagle

Tim briefly explained his process of taking photos and processing them.  There was an earlier presentation months ago explaining imagery in details.  This presentation was to show his recent successes of the photos taken from the scout camp.   His photos were quite impressive and were images of the triplet in Leo, a couple of spiral galaxies, M51, M3, and ended his photos with Comet in Hercules from January.


Major Presentation:

Science on a Sphere, by Leslie Bochenski

Leslie took the group down to the first floor to show how science and its discoveries can be displayed on a 3-dimensional globe. 

The program we saw was the “observe & inference” SOL lesson for middle/high school students.  Actually, it was called “Globular Clusters”, demonstrating the outward motion of globular clusters while looking towards the center of the Milky Way.

Afterwards, she passed the controls around and let us display each of the planets and “spin” the planets to observe all views.  It can show physical occurrences on the Earth.  For example, we can see weather, climate changes, and where earthquakes and aftershocks have occurred at any time on the Earth.  We even pulled up the recent quake that occurred in Mineral,Virginia.  It was very spectacular when we took a look at the major quakes and hundreds of aftershocks inJapana few weeks ago.  It was quite a learning experience and can be very useful to teach to any group.  I notices how several of the members were examining how 2-dimensional views were displayed on a 3-dimensional object from 4 different directions.

The SMV pamphlet explains Science on a Sphere as “Animated images of atmospheric storms, climate change and ocean temperature are shown on the sphere, illuminating sometimes complex environmental processes in a captivating way”.




The next RAS meeting will be Tuesday, March  13th at the SMV.

The next board meeting will be Monday, February 20st at Extra Billy’s at 7:00 PM (arrive earlier for dinner). Meeting is open to all members.


Check out the web site at

RAS Café Press store.  Please take a look at the online store where you can purchase items embossed with the RAS label. The site can be found at .


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