Richmond Astronomical Society

July 2013 Meeting Minutes

Nov 5th, 2013 | By | Category: Meetings

Richmond Astronomical Society
766th Consecutive Meeting
July 9, 2013

Greetings – approximately 33 in attendance at the meeting.
Jim Browder called our meeting to order in the Eureka meeting room.

Announcements / Share Table
Bill Jefferies had some equipment to show and sell
Book on share table were used during tonight’s presentation
Nametags for members

Special Guest – Anthony Hennig
On Sept 26, 1998, discovered and had an asteroid, “22729 Anthennig” named after him -by the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research Team at Socorro.
Finalist in the 2006 Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge (DCYSC), a middle school science competition, while attending Powhatan Junior High School
Participated in the Richmond Metro Science Fair
Graduated from Maggie Walker Governor’s school
Attending the Rochester Institute of Technology working on degrees in physics and engineering

Library Report – none

Events and Individual Observing
John R is trying to find a buyer for a scope we are trying to sell.
Grass needs to be cut by the members assigned for July (will not be named here)

Recent Events:
Science Museum – fantastic turn-out; observed Saturn, Moon, and ISS
Belmead – went well; lightly attended, observed Saturn and star clusters
Woodlake – 3-4 astronomers and scopes; good turn-out; several found it accidentally
Petersburg – weathered out

Upcoming Events:
• Green Bank Star Quest, July 10 — 13, Green Bank, West Virginia: The dream continues with Star Quest X at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank which is a beautiful dark sky site in eastern West Virginia. If you have not been to this star party, it’s a real treat. More information is available at
• Science Museum of Virginia Skywatch, Friday, July 19, 7:30 PM: RAS will have its regular monthly skywatch at the Science Museum after the LiveSky planetarium show at 6:00 PM. Please join us for the skywatch and bring a telescope if you can and we’ll do the Saturn Wave. Early in the evening, between 5:27 and 5:42 PM, we will participate in the Saturn Wave, described below.
• Science Museum of Virginia Skywatch, Friday, July 19, 6:00 PM: LiveSky is “Earth”
• Saturn Wave, Friday, July 19, 5:27 — 5:42 PM: The Cassini spacecraft will be imaging Earth from Saturn on July19 between 5:27 and 5:42 p.m. EDT (2127 and 2142 GMT). Earth should be visible as a tiny dot next to Saturn and its rings, with North America and part of the Atlantic Ocean in sunlight at the time. More information at cassini.html.
• Skywatch at Petersburg National Battlefield — Hopewell, Saturday July 27, 8:00 PM: Please contact Ray Moody at (804) 943- 8318 if you can help with this event. The location is in Hopewell at Grant’s Headquarter’s at City Point, 1001 Pecan Avenue, Hopewell, VA.
• ALCon 2013, July 24 — 27, Fernbank Science Center, Atlanta: The Astronomical League and the Atlanta Astronomy club are hosting this years ALC0n at the Fernbank Science Center. Speakers include Charles Wood, noted lunar and planetary scientist and author, Hal McAlister, Regents’ Professor at Georgia State and Director of the Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy and the Mount Wilson Institute and Tim Puckett, primary investigator of the Puckett World Observatory Supernova Search. More information at . It was fantastic last year.
• Belmead on the James Skywatch, Aug. — Sept., date to be announced: Skywatch at Belmead on the James I 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
• East Coast Video Astronomy Rendezvous (ECVAR), Sept. 29 — Oct. 6, Galax, VA: Video astronomers — mark your calendars. The next ECVAR event will be held at a site near Galax, VA, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway near the NC line, Grayson Highlands State Park and Mt. Rogers. There are great facilities, dark skies and lots to see and do during the day as well. More information is at
• Virginia Association of Astronomical Societies, Annual Meeting, Oct. 5, C. M. Crockett Park: This year’s annual meeting and stargazing event of VAAS will be hosted by the Northern Virginia Astronomy Club at Crockett Park, near Warrenton, VA. More information is at
• East Coast Star Party, Oct. 31 – Nov. 2, Hampton Lodge Campground, Coinjock, NC: Casual astronomy in a coastal environment. Please contact Kent Blackwell at for more information.

Visitors –
• Beverly and Bootsie Madison, and their grandson, Conner Saunders
• Scott Trawick
• Matthew Roy


Presentation; “Ugly Telescope, Beautiful Science,” Matthew Francis

Matthew Francis can be introduced as a physicist, science writer, public speaker, educator, and frequent wearer of jaunty hats (including the eponymous bowler hat). As the director of the Cosmos Academy, he speaks and teaches about many topics in astronomy, cosmology, and physics. Matthew is also a blogger at Galileo’s Pendulum, too. His topic tonight was about observing through ‘ugly telescopes’, or un-normally shaped and designed telescopes from over the years.
His premier example was about the Sloan Telescope at Apache Point in New Mexico. It is a 2.5 m scope (with a smaller 1.08 secondary mirror) surrounded by a rectangular shaped container but has wind baffles on it to reduce wind resistance. This telescope was used to perform the Sloan Digital Sky Survey or SDSS of over 35% of the sky, using red and blue spectroscopy. The Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS) was designed to measure the expansion rate of the Universe. It will map the spatial distribution of luminous red galaxies (LRGs) and quasars to map the spatial distribution and detect the characteristic scale imprinted by baryon acoustic oscillations in the early universe. Sound waves that propagate in the early universe, like spreading ripples in a pond, imprint a characteristic scale on the positions of galaxies relative to each other. It examined over 160,000 quasars at a red shift of between the factors of 2.2 and 3. A factor of 3 means the wavelength of the light is 4 times the normal length. “We cannot see the galaxies of the past, but we can see where they have been.”

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