Richmond Astronomical Society

July 2014 Meeting Minutes

Nov 11th, 2014 | By | Category: Meetings

Richmond Astronomical Society

778th Consecutive Meeting

July 8, 2014


Greetings – approximately 22 in attendance at the meeting.

Jim Browder called our meeting to order in the Eureka meeting room.


Announcements / Share Table

2014 Richmond Magazine Article on Belmead

Astro-photos of moon and selected galaxies



Library Report — Virginia Eckert brought the following books:

  • Red Giant, White Dwarf
  • Big Splash
  • Asteroids
  • Riddle of Gravitation
  • Galaxies

Events and Individual Observing — RAS members

  • Jim Browder told us the “Bear” story. It was about a bear who visited Jim’s driveway while he was observing on Sunday night. The bear didn’t stay long and didn’t cause any damage.
  • Humorous video from CanadaTV of a make-believe satellite crash
  • John Raymond watched Mars and its moons for about 2 hours recently. Over that time, he could detect orbital motion. He also saw Veres and Vesta asteroids.
  • Madhu displayed 3 beautiful photos of nebulas

Welcome Visitors
Recent Events:

  • Science Museum – clouded out
  • Powhatan State Park had about 40 scouts on a camping trip. Skies were OK. This was the first look through a telescope for about ½ the scouts.
  • Belmead on the James – partly cloudy skies, about 40 observers and a skunk who walked through about midnight.
  • Chick-Fil-A Father/Son Camp Out at Westchester Commons – big crowd but laots of light pollution.       Saturn and Mars were in view.
  • Belmead and Powhatan State Park Skywatches: Many thanks to those who participated in our June skywatches at Belmead on the James and Powhatan State Park. We battled the clouds for a bit, but nice views were to be had of Saturn, Mars and the seasonal Messier objects.
  • Images by Madhup Rathi and Dwight Talley: On the web at under the “RAS Update” tab.

Upcoming Events:

  • Scotchtown skywatch – Friday August 1 with a raindate of August 2.
  • ISS replenish launch (Taurus rocket) is planned for Friday, July 12 at 1:40pm.
  • Skywatch at Powhatan State Park, July 12, 9:00 PM: Powhatan State Park has invited us to provide views of the night sky to visitors on July 12. John Raymond is managing this event and he could use a couple of astronomers to help out. If you can help with this event, please contact John at raymond74l9© A Google Map showing the location of Powhatan State Park is at this link: Watch for weather updates on the RAS web site at Saturn and the Full Moon will be visible.
  • Science Museum of Virginia, July 18, 9:00 PM: RAS will have its regular monthly skywatch at the Science Museum starting at 9:00 PM after the Museum’s planetarium show which starts at 6:30 PM. The Museum will also be open from 5:00 to 9:00 PM on that evening for Science After Dark: The Monster Edition. More information is on the Museum’s web site at this link: Please join us and bring a telescope if you can.
  • RAS Monthly Meeting, Tuesday, August 12, 7:30 PM: The next meeting of the Richmond Astronomical Society will be on Tuesday, August 12, 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:
    http://www. ustream .tv/channel/richastro

Short Talk: “Re-cap of the Greenbank Starquest”, Ken and Betty Wilson

In mid-June, Ken and Betty, and about 120 others, attended an open house at the Greenbank research facility.

There were day classes on Astrophotography, Meteorites, and the October Sky.

The nights started off foggy, but usually cleared off around midnight, to expose a very dark sky. Luckily, they had no rain.

There were several door prizes, including a nice telescope.
Pulsar research was going on, so no electronics were allowed except in certain areas and during a certain time. Minor electronic signals interfere with their research. The use of green lasers had to be stopped by 10pm.

The scientists at Green bank were very attentive to the amateur astronomers.


Presentation: “A Science Museum Observatory Idea”, Bill Newman

Bill Newman has a great construction idea for a public observatory at the Science Museum. He started off asking us about what do other observatories around the country offer already, and what audience are we ‘speaking to’ at the observatories.

He proceeded to show us public educational obervatories in NewYork, Boston, Washington, and Chicago, including George Observatory in Houston and the Weintraub Observatory in Miami, having a 36” cassegrain on the roof. The Chabot observatory in Oakland has 3 telescopes, with 1 dating back to 1885.

Observatories need to be built in dark areas, but where people can find them.


Well, what do we want in Richmond?

Bill’s idea involves building a 9-floor tower on the SMV property, having a center elevator shaft to take people to the top floors.

The tower will have several classrooms, shops, offices, and research rooms. The 8th floor will be a sub-deck and the 9th floor will be the actual observatory with a telescope in a dome. On one of the floors, there will be 12 directional locations with monitors displaying a sky map and a ceiling window directly above it for the view from the monitor. The outside of the building will be black colored. The observing area will have a red glow to it when being used.

Comments from the attendees at the meeting:

Willa strobe light need to be on the top of it?

Will it be wheelchair accessible?

There was a mention of using a Porter mount, but that may be too difficult to mount and control.

Can there be a remote telescope and CCD monitors in the tower?

Will light pollution be an issue in Richmond?

Can it be built in the rural area? What does land cost in rural areas? (SMV will want it built on its property if they are sponsoring it.)

Due to SMV hours, will it be limited to solar viewing? Can it be open at night to the public?


It’s an exciting plan!


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