Richmond Astronomical Society

November Meeting Minutes

Nov 14th, 2009 | By | Category: Meetings

Richmond Astronomical Society
722nd Consecutive Meeting
November 10, 2009
Jim Browder called our meeting to order, in the Eureka Room.
Greeting & Announcements – approximately 31 in attendance at the meeting.

Share table: Several members have things to share.
Jim Blowers had an Orion catalog to offer, and also information on a journey to the 2010 total eclipse in Kenya.
Jeff Pike had a solar scope and solar filters to be referenced during tonight’s presentation.  He also had a free camera tripod for whoever wanted it.
John Raymond had a telescope for sale that was good for both astronomical and spotting.
Jim Browder had a coffee mug that was sent to him.  The mug had “Marthatopia” printed on it and was free to anyone who wanted it.
Bill Jeffries read a very nice note from Anne Verbiscer, who wished to thank RAS for the time and attention we gave her at October’s meeting.  She gave a fantastic presentation about her discovery of the largest ring ever found around Saturn.


 Past Events:
Last month’s skywatch was ‘weathered’ out.
Individual observing included the viewing of the Orionids, Jupiter, and Mars.  A few members had ‘unplanned’ neighborhood observing parties (usually they are the best kind).  It was also good to hear that the Powhatan police or park rangers are checking on safety of the members at the Powhatan site.
Upcoming Events:
60th anniversary RAS dinner: Date Friday December 4th.  Place: Holiday Inn on Staples Mill Road, near Staples Mill and West Broad Street.
The cost is $30 a person.  Provide payments to Jim Browder or Jim Blowers by Nov 30.  John Barnett and others are assembling some historical material for display, while Gary Cowardin is providing audio/visual equipment.  Bill Jeffries has scheduled our speaker for the evening to be Jim Condon from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville.  The topic of his talk will be “Weighing a Black Hole”.
Thanks to all that have helped, including Preston Kirby for researching the possible dinner locations.
The anniversary dinner will take place of the regular December meeting.
Annual membership dues are due to Jim Blowers.  Membership is $30, with an additional $10 if you are on the observatory staff.  If interested in magazine subscriptions, they are $32.95 for Sky & Telescope, and $34 for Astronomy.
November SMV skywatch has been cancelled due to a conflicting event at the museum.
Matoaca High is scheduling a skywatch on Nov 26 at 6pm.
Leonid meteor shower coming soon.
Mini Star party at Heart of Virginia Scout Reservation in Goochland on November 13.
RAS Board of Directors meeting will be 7pm on Monday November 16 at Extra Billy’s. Arrive earlier for dinner.
Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson will be the opening speaker of the 2009-2010 season for the Richmond Forum, on November 14, 2009.   For more information, go to
The Cafe Press Shop is functional.  Check it out and and let us know what items you would like to add.

Astronomical League report (
Home page announcements:
“What’s Up for November Feature”- short video on the Crab Nebula
The NASA Messenger Mission has revealed 6% of previously unseen landscape on the Moon.
There is a nice 3-hour exposure of the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) on their home page)
Aerial view of the Ares I-X Flight Test (6 minutes) from a tracking aircraft 10 miles away.
3 NASA press release highlights:
STS-129 Atlantis will launch at 2:28pm on Nov 16, and will deliver 2 gyroscopes, equipment, and ExPRESS logistics carriers to ISS.
Learn how the challenges of the Apollo 11 mission were met through first hand accounts of those who made it happen.  Classroom videoconferences are available to the public when they are broadcast during the week of Nov 16-20 at 1pm each day.  The weblink:
A media teleconference will be held on November 12 at 1pm to discuss the future attempts to release Spirit, the Martian Rover, which has been stuck in sandy soil for the past 6 months.

Observatory Report
John Barnette announced that RAS has 3 new staff members: David Medici, Dave Walton, and Reed Hand.�
Thanks to Dave Walton for donating a computer to the RAS observatory.
An open house is planned on November 22, weather permitting.

Library Report
Virginia Eckert has to change the library times to 6:45 – 7:05.  At 7:05, the electrical power goes off.  She made sure she got 5 more books to bring to the meeting: “The Discoverers”, “Analysis of Starlight”, “The Universe & Dr. Einstein”, “Violent Universe”, and “Entering Space”.  Virginia stated that “Entering Space” has wonderful pictures.

Visitors – We had no visitors. 

Election for 2010 Board of Directors:
The 2009 board was asked to stand and was thanked for their work over the past year.  Since were no new nominations from the floor, the proposed board of 12 nominees were voted on and approved by a voice vote of the attending members.
The 2010 Board of Directors are:
John Barnette, Jim Blowers, Jim Browder, Gary Cowardin, Bill Jeffries, Chris McCann, David Medici, Jeff Pike, Prashant Reddy, Tim Streagle, Betty Wilson, and Ken Wilson.

Short talk: Recap of the Hands-On Optics road trip.
Bill Jeffries, John Raymond, Jim Browder, Dave Walton, Tim Streagle, and others discussed what equipment they saw, and which ones they put on their ‘wish list’.

Presentation: “Amateur Solar Astronomy” by Jeff Pike
Jeff discussed the how, when, where, and what of solar observing.  He stated that solar observing is the same at a dark sky site as it is at a city location.  That characteristics of the sky’s environment doesn’t affect it.
He discussed and compared several types of filters (white light, Hydrogen-Alpha, and Calcium-K).  Based upon the type of filter, you will be able to see different solar occurrences, including sun spots, prominences, filaments, and flares.
Jeff displayed several views of the sun that included these active characteristics of the sun. He also showed us the solar scope that he uses (Coronado/Meade PST), and compared it to other scopes such as Lunt scopes, and Daystar Solaredi scopes.  There was even a photograph of a “Sun Gun” that had a large viewing portal attached to the eyepiece that allows solar activity to be seen by many people at the same time. 
Very interesting talk!
<<The next RAS meeting will be the 60th anniversary dinner.  There will be NO meeting on Tuesday, December 8 at the SMV.
<<The next board meeting will be Monday, November 16th at Extra Billy’s at 7:00 PM (arrive earlier for dinner). Meeting is open to all members.
<<Check out the web site at  and let us know what you think.

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