Richmond Astronomical Society

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
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:

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
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:
Richastro Yahoo Group / E-mail list:
(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.


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.

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