Richmond Astronomical Society

January Meeting Minutes

Feb 14th, 2012 | By | Category: Meetings

RichmondAstronomical Society

748th Consecutive Meeting

January 10, 2012


 Jim Browder called our meeting to order in theEurekaroom.


Greetings – approximately 90 in attendance at the meeting.

 Special guests and presentation:

The meeting took a different order of events tonight, since we started off with one of our presentations, usually held for the latter part of the meeting.  Our special guests were 13 fourth grade students fromRidgeElementary SchoolinHenricoCounty.  The curriculum for their science classes allowed studies in astronomy, and had the students create projects involving planets and special astronomical items. For about 20 minutes, members moved about the many stations while these students presented their creations.  It was exciting to see the work that the fourth graders put into the projects, and the enthusiasm they had when they discussed their knowledge.  Well done!! 


Could one of our researchers be a future astronomer: Maggie Luu, Jon Lafoon, Matthew Boyle, Megan Mason, Nick Erickson, Alyssa Frankenstein, Alyssa Salmon, Will Turpin, Jospeh Shibley, Bless Jaa, Tula Jones, Emma Jordan, and Elijah Mason.


The event was an idea from the Ridge Elementary librarian, Nancy Essid, who asked if the students could present their work at 1 of our meetings.  She was accompanied by several of the teachers involved in the research: Scott Broderick, Crystal Heflebower, Homira Raonaq, and Heather Williford.  Good work!

Break  —–

 Announcements – about 27 people remained after the break.

 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

A 600mm Vivitar camera lens, that could resolve mountains on the moon.  May be for sale later.

StarBucks cards to get a free Astronomy app on an iPhone.

 Chris Diltz contacted us regarding a Celestron NexStar 4SE he wishes to sell, originally purchased in 2011. He advises that he has all accessories that came with it along with a plastic tote, 8 additional filters and 4 additional eyepieces including a Barlow. If you are interested, please contact Chris at cdiltzl974© or 804-898-2831.

 Library Report – none

 Events and Individual Observing

Recent Events:

• Individual observing

Dave Medici said that he saw about 11 Draco meteors at 7:10am one morning, while he was walking across the parking lot at the school he teaches at.


Upcoming Events:

• Science Museum Skywatch, January 20 (6:00pm): Please sign up if you can bring a telescope. More information is at The theme of the LiveSky event will be “Jupiter —A Star that Could Have Been.” The RAS skywatch will start at dusk.

• Globe at Night, January 14-23: The GLOBE at Night program is an international citizen-science campaign to raise public awareness of the impact of light pollution by inviting citizen-scientists to measure their night sky brightness and submit their observations to a website from a computer or smart phone. More information is at

• February RAS meeting, February 14: Bring your sweetie to the next meeting of the Richmond Astronomical Society where he or she will see stars! 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

• 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!index.php/category/blog/.  John is the VicePresident of the Astronomical League, and a member of the Roanoke Astronomy club.

• Comet Levy: Early evenings in January bring us Comet Levy, a seventh magnitude fuzzy ball scooting from Aries into Eridanus. On the 15th, it lies 6° west of Jupiter. The best times to view it will be from January 15 through 25 when there is no moonlight washing out the sky.


Visitor and New Member Welcome

We had 2 visitors: Alex Wood (got a telescope for Christmas), and Melissa Wilson.


Major Presentation:

2012 Opportunities by Jim Browder, President

Jim gave a “State of the Society” talk that included thoughts about the progress of the study of Astronomy in a general sense.

We need to be constantly looking for ideas.  There is lots of interest, especially in our club, and many opportunities to enjoy our hobby and for educational outreach.  Understanding that there is a limitation on our time and resources, many of us have to pick and choose what activities we will be able to participate in.

He was very impressed with the hours that RAS has spent with Outreach in many locations, such as, SMV, AstronomyDay, Woodlake, Brandermill, Heart of Virginia Star parties,Montpelier, Scotchtown, Bryan Park, RavenCon, Powhatan, and many schools. An opportunity for RAS would be for each of these locations to have a specific individual coordinator. 

Going into 2012, we have the same opportunities, but we need to scope out more resources and possible sites for observing.  We also have the responsibility to host the 2012 VAAS meeting, planned for mid-September at the Heart of Virginia Scout Camp in Maidens.

He and a few others have participated in online broadcasts, to bring the Skywatch to those who could not make it.  There is an increased in the use of mobile devices to help display and ‘organize’ the sky. 

The opportunities for celestial imaging (both video and still) are getting easier with improved cameras, equipment, and advances in communications.  A new camera, Lytro, can change Astronomical photography forever.  It has the opportunity to take photos of an object while varying its focus on the object.  After the photos have been taken and evaluated, the best ones can be kept.

There are lots of free software and improved special software, with all levels of sophistication, that eases the process of image processing. One such software mentioned was Registax6.

There is a strong increase in the growth of Professional/Amateur Collaboration.  Many more opportunities for all levels of experiences astronomers to work together.  Some mentioned examples:

  • Variable star observing in the epsilon Aurigae campaign
  • Spectroscopy
  • Galactical Tidal Structures (Jay Gabany is an expert in this)
  • Galaxy Zoos (invites public to assist with galaxy research)
  • Lunar and Asteroidal occultations (David Dunham is an excellent resource)
  • Rapid Response telescope (NorfolkStateandBack Bayastronomy clubs are involved here)

There are increasing number of opportunities for Astronomers to experience, and will probably be even more as time progresses.  The world of Astronomy is growing and is strong!




The next RAS meeting will be Tuesday, February 14th 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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