Richmond Astronomical Society

May Meeting Minutes

Oct 9th, 2012 | By | Category: Meetings

RichmondAstronomical Society

752th Consecutive Meeting

May 8, 2012



Greetings – approximately 28 in attendance at the meeting.

Jim Browder called our meeting to order in theEurekaroom.

Name tags are being passed out during the next few meetings to our members.


Share Table

Astronomy Day photos!!

John Raymond had photos from the NEAF showing activities and observing that was being done.  Among those activities were Sun and Venus observing.

An invitation email from Kent Blackwell explaining the activities for the East Coast Star party.


Library Report

Virginiareported no problems with the library, and gave much thanks to Wayne Boggs for allowing us to have our library at the Richmond Alarm Company.  She brought in 7 books, including 4 older books: Galaxies, A Day on the Moon (1913), How to ID the Stars (1909), and 8 Easy Observing Projects.  The younger books were: Sands of Lodestone, Light: Visible and Invisible, and A Short History of Astronomy.


Events and Individual Observing

Recent Events:

  • Astronomy Day
  • ScienceMuseumskywatch – clear until about 9pm, had about 35 observers
  • Individual observing – Several members discussed seeing Jupiter and sun spots.  Dan Salkovitz was inAfrica, where the sky was very dark – so dark, it was hard to identify the constellations.  Orion was upside down, and he spoke of “an amazing Milky Way”.


Upcoming Events:

  • East Coast Star Party, May 10-12:Coinjock,NC; for information contact Kent Blackwell at
  • Skywatch at Woodlake, May 11: Please contact John Raymond at if you can bring a telescope to this event.  Meet at the boat ramp.
  • Science Museum Skywatch, May 18: 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.  LiveSky will be about the transit of Venus, and how to determine the size of the solar system.
  • Malvern Hill on April 18.
  • RAS Observing at Camp, May 12 (RAS only) and May 18: Observing session for RAS members and guests at the Heart of Virginia Scout Reservation in Goochland. The address is 1723 Maidens Roadin Maidens, VA. Detailed directions to the site are at this link:   Be there by 6pm to start setting up.  It’s close to the New Moon, so we should have dark skies.

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 look for a brown sign on the right with a picture of a telescope on it, directing you 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.

  • Pocahontas State Park Skywatch, June 23: If interested please advise Jim Browder at
  • Next RAS meeting, June 12: Please join us if you can. A number of us also gather before the meeting at Arbys across the street from the Museum about 6:00 PM.
  • Transit of Venus, June 5: Stay tuned for details of a local gathering to observe the event.  Public event at the SMV.
  • Virginia Association of Astronomical Societies Annual Meeting, Saturday, 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, please contact Betty Wilson at


Visitor Welcome:

  • Mark Grubbs
  • Wayne Boggs
  • Anna Manning


Short Talk:

“Astronomy Day Re-Cap,” Discussion from RAS members

  • Descriptions of photos taken during Astronomy Day on Saturday, April 28
  • Last minute changes due to cultural day events at the museum forced a change of location, but there was still a large turnout even though RAS ended up behind the museum.  Displays included meteorite skymap, dark sky information,Sydney’s telescope and Science Fair project, Starlab, City Dark movie, Russ the roving astronaut, and 16 water bottle rocket launches.
  • Further Astronomy Day discussion included comments on the status of RAS/SMV relations.  Are we being treated right?  Are we low on the totem pole?  Rich Conti came by the RAS activities area and talked about 10 minutes.  Were the Astronomy Day activities used as a draw for the SMV attendance?
  • Astronomy Day – Belmead evening event (indoor sky orientation was a lot of fun, RAS information, dark sky info, night skywatch was clouded out).  Several good questions from the small crowd that attended.  The public was invited back on June 30th.  Attendees included Jim Browder, Laura Graham, and Demetrius Venable (HowardUniversity astronomer who lives in Powhatan).
  • Thanks to Prashant for planning another successful Astronomy Day!!  Great work Prashant!!







Major Presentation:

“Asteroids, Friend or Foe,” Betty Wilson

An asteroid is defined as a metallic rocky body between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.  Research into asteroids is done because these objects are pure material from the beginning of time.  They are categorized by their composition: carbon-based (C),  Silicates (S), and other metallic types (M), including nickel ion.

The first asteroid seen was Ceres, seen in 1801.

Many people are worried that Earth will be hit by a stray asteroid and cause a cataclysmic disaster.  Scientists (and movies) have studied different ideas to deflect asteroids and other objects on a line of collision with us.  Some of the deflection strategies are ‘kinetic impacts’, SpaceTug, Nuclear explosions, Mirror bees, and lasers.

Asteroids are small, but they have been observed with binoculars and telescopes.  ASL Asteroid Program is software that has demonstrated how asteroids move and interact with other objects due to gravity and other forces.

 The first Near-Earth object was named Eros and was seen by Witt inBerlin.  It was estimated to be approximately 21 miles by 8 miles. 

Agencies have found and are tracking 911 asteroids.  NASA has identified 93% of the large ones.

Several have been tracked by WISE (Wide field Infrared Survey Explorer).  One of those tracked was 2008 TC3.  It was the size of a VW bus, and was tracked until it crashed into the Sudan Nubian Desert.   Another, 2005 YU55, was tracked as it passed within the moon’s orbit on 11/8/11.  Two others were detected that close in 2011 and 2012.





The next RAS meeting will be Tuesday, June 12th at the SMV.

The next board meeting will be Monday, May 21st  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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