Richmond Astronomical Society

January 2010 Meeting Minutes

Feb 1st, 2010 | By | Category: Meetings

Richmond Astronomical Society
724th Consecutive Meeting
January 12, 2010
Jim Browder called our meeting to order, in the IMAX Planetarium.

Greeting & Announcements – approximately 43 in attendance at the meeting.
The RAS blog and newsletter have been updated.  There is a link to the blog on the RAS webpage.
Share table:
Terry Barker brought a 2010 Guy Ottewell Astronomical Calendar for people to look at.  He stated he bought it for a couple of dollars through a book club.
Chris McCann also brought one, along with a copy of the RASC Oberver’s Handbook
John Barnette had several items of Mars information, related to his presentation later in the meeting.
Ken Wilson brought a get well card for us to sign for Jane Hastings, who took a bad fall over the Holidays.
RAS members can purchase the Ottewell Astronomical Calendar through a special website, , or call 800-533-5083.�
It claims the sale price of $19.95 expires on December 31, 2009, but still displays it.  Give it a try.  If not, the regular price is $26.95.
Past Events:
Last month’s skywatch was ‘snowed’ out.  That doesn’t happen too often around here!!
Individual observing included the viewing of the Orion and Mars.
The 60th Anniversary dinner in December had a good turnout.  There were a few comments about how good the speaker was.  The speaker was Jim Condon from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.
Upcoming Events:
Annual dues are due and should be given to Jim Blowers.  Membership is $30.  Observatory memberships and magazine subscriptions increase the amount.
Payment can be made by PayPal at
See observatory report about an open house for January.
John Raymond is planning a skywatch at the Petersburg Battlefield and at the BonAir residence center.  More information will be coming soon and should be on this website and through mass emails. Please let John know if you can help.
January’s skywatch is Friday, January 15.
Astronomical League report (
Due to multiple laptop and screen issues, the planned Web site demo was postponed until after the break. It was then postponed again until the February meeting, due to shortness of time after resolving the laptop connection issues.

Observatory Report
John Barnette announced that RAS is planning an open house for January 24th, starting at 6pm.  The moon will be visible during the early evening, and Mars will clear the treeline about 9pm.  If you come, dress warmly!

Library Report
Virginia Eckert brought 5 books to the meeting.  Her theme revolved around Mars, the topic of tonight’s presentation by John Barnette.

We had 5 visitors and 1 new member. The 5 visitors were:
Cecil Shifflett, his daughter Amy Duffey, Michael Clary, Wade Murray, and Bob Banks.�
Our new member is Ronnie Bailey, who stated visiting our meetings this past October.
Welcome to our visitors and our new member!!  We look forward to seeing all of you again.
Presentation: “The Martian Aphelic Opposition of 2010” by John Barnette
John Barnette described that the Mars opposition is a great opportunity to get a closeup view of Mars.  The Earth and Mars are in the same part of their respective orbits and are close to each other, relatively speaking.
There were a few interesting facts presented during the talk.  There IS a mathematical equation to determine the synodic period of the Earth-Mars system.   Another fact was that Earth and Mars have a similar axis tilt.  This allows all aphelic and perihelic rendevous to each have its own consistent characteristics.
For example, all aphelic occurences display views of the north pole during a Martian winter.  The threat of dust storms are low and you need a relatively higher power optics to view details on Mars.
On the other hand, perihelic views occur less frequently, and show views of the south pole during the Martian summer.  Dust storms are more frequent during the summer, and you can use lesser power optics to see details, unless the dust storms block your view.
John also showed some Martian drawings dating back to 1659 by Huygens.  Other artists were Shroder, Shaparelli, and Autionaddi.  We also saw photos and drawings by local RAS artists named Bill Dickinson and John Barnette.
Very interesting talk!

<<The next RAS meeting will be Tuesday, February 9th at the SMV.
<<The next board meeting will be Monday, February 15th at Extra Billy’s at 7:00 PM (arrive earlier for dinner). Meeting is open to all members.
<<Check out the web site at

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