Richmond Astronomical Society

March 2014 Meeting Minutes

May 13th, 2014 | By | Category: Meetings

Richmond Astronomical Society

774th Consecutive Meeting

March 11, 2014


Greetings – approximately 45 in attendance at the meeting.

Jim Browder called our meeting to order in the Dome Theater.


Announcements / Share Table

         No share table. RAS will be the “guinea pigs” for a special presentation


Next RAS meeting — April 8, 7:30 PM, Science Museum of Virginia


Upcoming Events

Science Museum of Virginia Skywatch. Friday, March 21, 6:30 PM: RAS will have its regular monthly skywatch at the Science Museum starting at 6:30 PM. Please join us and bring a telescope if you can. Please feel free to set up before sunset if you like.


BryanPark Skywatch, Saturday, March 15, 7:30pm: The Richmond Astronomy Society will present a program on the Moon and Jupiter at 7:30 PM at the south end of the soccer fields in Joseph Bryan Park. Please join us and bring a telescope if you can. Contact John Raymond at for more information. In case of inclement weather, check the RAS website ( for cancellation notice after 12 noon.


Thomas Jefferson High School Skywatch, Tuesday, March 18, 6:30pm: Thomas Jefferson high school is having an astronomy night in conjunction with a PTSA meeting and RAS has been asked to help with a skywatch. The event will likely be well-attended. Please join us and bring a scope if you can. Thomas Jefferson is located at 4100 West Grace St. in Richmond — a Google map to the location is at this link: Please send a message to if you can help with this event. The area will be in the back of the school on the football field.


Staunton River Star Party. Mar 27-30: The Staunton River Star Party is coming up! It’s a great location with great facilities and lots of nice folks. More information at this link: html


Skvwatch at Caroline Middle School. Wednesday. April 2: RAS has received an invitation to assist with a skywatch at Caroline Middle School in Caroline County. If you are interested in helping with this skywatch, please contact Jim Browder at


Skywatch at Belmead on the James in Powhatan, Saturday, April 26. 7:00 PM: Belmead and RAS will host members of the public along with advanced observers for a night under the stars. We will have a presentation for the public in the Belmead mansion and observers may set up and observe as long as they like in the parking area adjacent to the mansion. Belmead is a convenient dark sky location in Powhatan County. The entrance is shown on the map at this link’ Once you enter the property, follow the signs to the mansion where the observing session will he held.


Powhatan State Park, Saturday, May 17, 9:00 PM: RAS has been working with the Powhatan State Park staff to develop several skywatch events for 2014. The first one will be held on May 17 starting at 9:00pm. John Raymond said it was 1 of the nicest sites he has seen.


Special Presentation: Preview of the mighty Evans & Sutherland Digistar 5 High Resolution 3D Digital Dome Theater

We had the pleasure of seeing an exclusive preview of the new projection system in SMV’s dome.

SMV’s “Chief Wonder Officer”, Richard Conti, spoke to us briefly. After thanking us for providing telescopes to the monthly skywatch and other

Activities, he proceeded to tell us about the advancement in technology in the planetary dome. The Science Museum held on to the old camera as long as it would last – 30 years, before becoming the world’s most technologically advanced planetary dome. There are now 5 projectors controlled and coordinated by 41 computers. With that advancement, ‘no seams’ can be seen during the IMAX films. The advancement allows brilliant colorful displays. The system can show movies and can display the view of the sky from anytime and anywhere in the universe.

Justin guided our trip by starting us off looking at the present night sky, as it would look with no dome above us. Afterwards, we then moved through time and saw the progression of all visible objects as they moved across our sky. Time travel is allowed in both directions. We could also travel through space to other locations and see how our view has changed. It was very interesting to fly by a comet and through its tail. Not only could we look out into space, but we could look down at the layout of our Earth.

The system is also used for educational purposes, by traveling to galaxies, planets, and other heavenly objects, and displaying information about the objects. Diagrams were also displayed, for example, showing the inside of a planet or the sun. It is even capable of presenting new Hubble photos from earlier the same day.


While requesting different views and items, we did find a few flaws in the data that need to be ironed out. To be honest, you had to look extremely close and know what you were looking at, to see the error.

There will be 2 astronomy shows a day. I hope there will be ‘request shows’ like the one RAS was allowed to participate in.

Very impressive!!!!


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