Richmond Astronomical Society

May 2015 Meeting Minutes

Nov 8th, 2015 | By | Category: Meetings

Richmond Astronomical Society
788th Consecutive Meeting
May 12, 2015

Greetings – approximately 29 in attendance at the meeting.
Jim Browder called our meeting to order in the Eureka meeting room

Announcements / Share Table
Box of educational pamphlets and hand-outs
Photo of sun taken by Randy, used UV light filter

Library Report: Virginia Eckert

Welcome Visitors:
Tom Muse
Randy Tatum

Events and Individual Observing:
RAS member observing – Mars, Jupiter, Venus; Madhu set his telescope up in a public area and had 40-50 attendees
Science Museum – weathered out – rain
Astronomy Day – very successful. Many interested visitors. Kudos to Matthew Roy (and Leslie) for organizing a successful Astronomy Day; 17 RAS members helped; Matthew has a follow-up document that the board will discuss at the next board meeting;
Clover Hill – Great views of Jupiter; sky watch moved to Swift Creek Middle (not a bad site)
Pocahontas Middle School – Mars, Jupiter, Venus, approximately 150 attendees, members that helped were MichaelP, BettyW, KenW, Ray (had his 14” dob)

Upcoming Events
Science Museum Skywatch, Friday, May 15, 7:00 PM: Our regular monthly skywatch at the Science Museum is scheduled to start at 7:00 PM! but we might want to have some astronomers set up closer to dusk. If those of us who will be helping out with the skywatch can be at the Museum closer to dusk it would be helpful since there may be visitors at that time.
East Coast Star Party, May 14-16: This year’s spring installment of the East Coast Star Party will be held on May 14-16. This party is one where astronomers always have a good time. It’s very casual and lots of fun. The party location is the Hampton Lodge Campground, Coinjock, NC, next to the Currituck Sound. There is a one-time fee of $20 for the entire star party, but if you are camping, you need to register separately with the campground. Please contact Kent Blackwell for more information at
Powhatan State Park Skywatch, Saturday, May 16: RAS and Powhatan State Park will host a skywatch at the Park on May 16 starting at dusk in the equestrian parking area. Please join us if you can. WE NEED HELP WITH THIS EVENT!
Due to conflicting events, we need at least one or two astronomers to commit to being at this skywatch. If anyone can help, please contact either John Raymond at raymond74l9© or Jim Browder at president©
RAS Board of Directors Meeting, Monday, May 18, 7:00 PM: RAS Board of Directors Meeting at Extra Billy’s Restaurant on West Broad Street. Dinner reservations at 6:00 PM; meeting begins at 7:00 PM.
Maymont – planned for May 29 (New client)
Bryan Park – May 30 – usually very well attended
RAS Monthly Meeting, Tuesday, June 9, 7:30 PM, 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:

Belmead on the James Skywatch, Saturday June 13, 7:30 PM: Belmead is a beautiful dark sky location in Powhatan County. Please join us for an indoor discussion session followed by observing into the night near the mansion.
The entrance to Belmead is located at 5004 Cartersville Road, Powhatan, VA. A Google Map showing the location is at this link: Once you enter Belmead follow signs to the mansion. Hope to see everyone there.
Green Bank Star Quest, June 17-20: An excellent star party at the Greenbank Observatory in West Virginia. Lots of activities, vendors, dark skies along with radio and visible light astronomy opportunities. This is 4 hours away from Richmond. They have an observatory and science center, radio and visual observing, a control room tour, vendors, door prizes, . . .
More information at

VAAS – Saturday, October 3, 2015 at Charlottesville. More information soon.

Slide show showed the highlights of our Astronomy Day


Presentation: ‘Open Source Astronomy Software,” Michael Pitchford
Michael discussed things to consider when you are looking for astronomy software.
The best software is
• Free
• Easy to find
• Works out of the box
• Support is free
He commented that Linux-based software has the most free titles. Linux was also used by NASA, CERN, ESO, the India Mars Orbiter program, Mars Rover. Linux is “bullet proof”.
He mentioned the importance of good software for things like Star Maps, Image Processing, and preparation for printed media/displays/publications.
He recommended Stellarium, Cartes du Ceil, and K-Stars

Madhu recommended Hello Northern Sky.

Michael talked about the large variety of apps for our cell phones.

A copy of his handout is below:

Free Astronomy Resources – In no particular order….
A general guide:

Sourceforge for Mac and Linux (empty for Win)

NASA some tools, but mostly info:

The veritable Registax stacker -works with Win and Linux(Wine)

Iris for Linux

DebianScienceAstronomy – about:
contents in:
and bricks for building your own:
• http://blends.debian.orp/science/taskslastronomy-dev

The Skychart, free for Linux and Win, additional opportunities to spend money with Mac.

Lots of free stuff, software, even telescope building how to

Michael Pitchford — Linux installations and help.

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