Richmond Astronomical Society

July Meeting Minutes

Oct 9th, 2012 | By | Category: Meetings

RichmondAstronomical Society

754th Consecutive Meeting

July 10, 2012



Greetings – approximately 21 in attendance at the meeting.


(Altered agenda tonight — share table, library report and visitor welcome will occur around our visitor/speaker’s arrival)


Share Table

Sky & Telescope magazine

Prashant brought in 2 distinctly different moon globes.  The older of the 2 was of a cartographic surface display, while the newer one was a photographic surface display.


Library Report

Virginiareported no problems with the library.


Events and Individual Observing

Recent Events:

  • International Space Station Downlink: Thanks to Ted Bethune and Bill Jeffries for helping out with the downlink from the International Space Station at theScienceMuseum. Through the downlink a number of students and media representatives had an opportunity to communicate directly with the ISS astronauts.
  • Multiple Skywatches: Thanks many times over to everyone who has helped with skywatches. We don’t say thank you often enough, but we simply could not support skywatches without the help of our volunteer astronomers.
  • Hank attended the Astronomical League Convention in July and attended 3 of the meetings.  He met many interesting people from the approximately 370 people at the conference.  This could be a good source to find a speaker for a future VAAS meeting.


Upcoming Events:

  • Science Museum Skywatch, July 20: Please sign up and bring a telescope if you can. More information is at The RAS skywatch will start at dusk after the LiveSky planetarium show, which will be “Here Comes The Sun”.
  • Petersburg National Battlefield,Hopewell, July 21: Skywatch starts at 8:00 PM. Please contact Ray Moody at if you can help with this event.
  • RAS Observing at Camp, July 21: Observing session for RAS members and guests at the Heart of Virginia Scout Reservation in Goochland. The address is1723 Maidens Roadin Maidens, VA. Detailed directions to the site are at this link:
  • Once you enter the reservation from Maidens Road/Rt. 522, take an immediate right turn into the Cub Adventure Camp, drive about 0.1 mile and take the first right on onto a gravel/dirt road to the top of a hill which is the observing site. Please note that anyone under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian in order to comply with camp rules.
  • Next RAS meeting, August 14, 7:30 PM: 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. Eric Douglass will present part 2 of his discussion of lunar geology.
  • Belmead on James Skywatch, August 25, 7:30 PM: Skywatch at Belmead on the James / Thomas Berry Educational Center. 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 president@richastro org if you can help with this event. More info about Belmead and theThomasBerryEducationalCenteris at
  • Virginia Association of Astronomical Societies Annual Meeting, September 15: Save the date’ This year’s VAAS meeting will be held at the Heart of Virginia Scout Reservation which has dark skies, convenient location and great facilities. If you can help with this event or if you have suggestions for speakers, please contact Betty Wilson at


Visitor Welcome:

Scott Kozel


Short Talk:

“Astronomy and Meteorology,” Zach Daniel

Zach Daniels, lead meteorologist at WTVR Channel 6, came by for a low key discussion about Astronomy and Meteorology.  He started off talking about being a little boy interested in stars, constellations, and the heavens.  He had the little telescope, much like most of us, but he also had residential lighting in the area that hurt star gazing.  Due to the light, it was tough finding Halley’s Comet, but he did.  Zach learned early that being inAtlantameant there was no dark sky to enjoy.  

However, when he was studying meteorology inOklahoma, he found darker skies to enjoy.  He received his degree in Meteorology inOklahoma(as did Carrie Rose, his co-worker at WTVR).  Zach said he liked to use Astronomy to spice up his weather forecasts.  For example, he may mention when Mars or Jupiter is rising, or remind viewers about a meteor shower happening the next morning.  Astronomers and Meteorologists use clouds to make either forecasts or predictions if the evening will be a good evening for skywatching.

After being asked about good sources of weather information, Zach recommendedCollegeofDeupageand other sources as being accurate.  Discussions turned towards the recent durecho storm thatRichmondhad.  It wasn’t a typical tropical storm, but it had the same wind force as a hurricane.  Speaking of hurricanes, the recent decrease in hurricanes around theUSborder was due to the ‘la nina’ changing to more of a ‘el nino’ weather environment.

It’s quite interesting how many people in either one of these scientific fields also has an extended understanding in the other science.


 Short talk #2

“Ranger Tim, Astronomer”

This was Tim Streagle’s last monthly RAS meeting.  Tim’s wife got a new job, and will relocate them out to the town ofPocatello,Idaho.  Jim Browder did a little bit of googling and found several things out about Tim.  Jim had a few candid videos of Tim cooking, observing, laughing, or just entertaining others.  His many faces included Scout Ranger, Astrophotographer, Outreach educator, Fisherman, and Musician.  In case you don’t know, Tim was the one in charge of the Heart of Virginia Scout Reservation in Goochland, giving us many opportunities to use those facilities so much.  During some of Jim’s research, he found out that Tim played trombone on some of Bruce Hornsby’s recordings.  I understand we are invited to Tim’s first skywatch.  I have a feeling it will be Tim’s first night inIdaho.  Good luck Tim!!




Major Presentation:

“Speed of Light Measurements,” Bill Newman

Bill decided to take on a challenge that will resemble the research that Galileo and Ole Romer performed.  Over several months, Bill and others will take time measurements of the moons of Jupiter, in an attempt to measure the speed of light.  With everything being constant, the only changes will be the distance from Jupiter to the Earth over the course of a few months.  Over 6 months, the major difference will be the diameter of the Earth’s orbit.  Bill had geometric diagrams to display his logic and processing behind his speed-of-light research proposal.  His math will depend upon the differences in the actual and expected timings of the disappearance of Io behind the edge of Jupiter.  Stay tuned for more updates over the next year!





The next RAS meeting will be Tuesday, August 14th at the SMV.

The next board meeting will be Monday, August 20th 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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