Richmond Astronomical Society

November 2013 Meeting Minutes

Mar 11th, 2014 | By | Category: Meetings

Richmond Astronomical Society

770th Consecutive Meeting

November 12, 2013


Greetings – approximately 39 in attendance at the meeting.

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


Announcements / Share Table

John Raymond had free DVDs for the taking; also donated a book to the library

Samples of solar film were available

Photos of the recent solar eclipse

Jim Browder showed photos of the RAS picnic at Belmead

Sample newsletters from the Rappahannock Astronomical Society

Chris McCann displayed 2 calendars on sale from The Planetary Society


Board of Directors Elections — David Medici, Nominations Committee Chairman


Annual dues are due

  • This is the time of year when we ask our members to make sure their dues are paid for the upcoming year. Dues are $30 per year for regular membership, $10 additional for observatory staff members. If you joined RAS after July 1 of this year, your dues payment will be credited to 2014. You can give your dues payment to our Treasurer, Jim Blowers, in person at a meeting or you can pay online With PayPal or by mail to his address at 232 N. Pinetta Drive, North Chesterfield, VA23235.
  • Information on PayPal payments is at the “Membership / Dues Payment” link on the lower right side of the main RAS web page at You may also pay Jim for discounted subscriptions to Astronomy and Sky and Telescope, if you like.


Library Report — Virginia Eckert


Events and Individual Observing

Recent Events:

  • ScienceMuseum skywatch – good turn out
  • Partial Solar Eclipse viewed from Virginia Beach, Ken Wilson had photos on the share table.  Delivered a short talk including a video and several more photos of the eclipse
  • East Coast Star Party and eclipse viewing from Coinjock, NC, John Raymond attended and reported cloudy skies for most of the time.  Halloween costume party was fun.  After clouds moved out,  John reported many observations were made at ECSP (21st year): Comet Ison, comet Lovejoy, Rosetta nebula, Helmut, Seagull Nebula, carbon stars, and several nebulas.
  • Madhup attended the UVa public night at FannMountain.  He reported 6 scopes and about 250 people.  A couple of sightings were M57 and M15.


Upcoming Events:

  • Science Museum of Virginia Skywatch, Friday, November 15, 6:30 PM: RAS will have its regular monthly skywatch at the ScienceMuseum after the LiveSky planetarium show at 6:30 PM.  LiveSky show will be “Comet Ison”. Please join us and bring a telescope if you can. We’ll plan to be available during and after the planetarium show, but it will begin to get dark shortly after 5:00 PM, so please feel free to set up before sunset if you like.
  • RAS Board of Directors Meeting, Monday, November 18: The RAS Board will meet at Extra Billy’s restaurant on Broad St. at 7:00 PM, Monday, November 18. Reservations will be made for 6:00 PM for those that wish to eat.
  • RAS Monthly Meeting, Tuesday, December 10, 7:30 PM: The December meeting of the Richmond Astronomical Society is traditionally when we transform into the Richmond Gastronomical Society. We will meet on Tuesday, December 10 7:30 PM at the Science Museum of Virginia. Please join us for the meeting and bring a dish to share with the group. Depending upon the internet bandwidth available, we will broadcast the meeting live on Ustream at
  • Skywatch at the Powhatan County Library, Monday, December 16: A skywatch at the Powhatan Library located at 2270 Mann Road, Powhatan, VA. Google map showing the location is here: Please join us and bring a telescope if you can. The exact start time will be announced later.  Leslie will be presenting indoors.



Richard Buttner

Sid S. Kere

Charlise Prestwood

Linda Billard



Space Program Update,” Ted Bethune presented many photos about spaceships that were used and others that were in the plans but never quite made it to existence.  The photos included designs and views of Dadelus, Saturn V, Project Icarus, and Orion spacecraft.




Presentation: “Spectroscopy,” Jerry Hubbell, President – Rappahannock Astronomy Club and Vice President – Explore Scientific

Jerry had a very interesting talk about spectroscopy, a new field in amateur astronomy.  He put a lot of attention on fiber fed spectroscopy, where a fiber is focused on a star, and the fiber is guided to stay on the star while its spectral light is studied.  The chemical composition of the star can be determined by the frequencies of light that is visible and also by the light that is not emitted. 

Other designs for spectroscopy involved the use of a transmission grating and assortment of slit patterns to create the spectrum of emitted light.

Spectroscopy is not always working with visible light range.  By using a cold flip mirror, visible light can be reflected to a spectrometer, while infra red light transmits through to CCD cameras and sensors.

You need to be careful with loss of light intensities in some situations. 

Besides manual gliding of fibers, slits, and gratings, there are also auto-gliders that keeps the focus on the bright center of the light source.

Look for a book by Jerry in the Spring of 2015.


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