Richmond Astronomical Society

October 2014 Meeting Minutes

Nov 11th, 2014 | By | Category: Meetings

Richmond Astronomical Society

781st Consecutive Meeting

October 14, 2014


Greetings – approximately 35 in attendance at the meeting.

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


Announcements / Share Table:

  • Board of Directors nominating committee was introduced. Board members from 2014 and proposed board members for 2015 were introduced.
  • Jim Blowers brought in an eclipse photo.  Brian Hartley and Ken Wilson displayed eclipse photos of the Moon and Uranus. There photos were 1-2 seconds of exposure.


Annual RAS 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 2015. You can give your dues payment to our Treasurer, Jim Blowers, in person at a meeting or you can pay online With PayPal.
  • 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

All is well at the Richmond Alarm Company. The books that Virginia brought in for members to check out were:

  • The Night Sky (1948) by J. G. Parker
  • Skyguide – A Field Guide For Amateur Astronomers (1982)
  • Radio Astronomy (1952) by Bernard Lovell
  • Men, Mirrors, and Stars (1935) by G. Edward Pendray
  • Making Your Own Telescope (1947) by Allyn J. Thompson
  • Cosmic Adventure – Other Secrets Beyond the Night Sky (1998) by Bob Berman
  • Pictorial Guide to the Planets (1981) by Jaseph Jackson and John Baumert


Events and Individual Observing:

  • RAS member observing – Madhu took a photo of an asteroid; Myron Wasiuta saw a mountain shadow on another mountain.       The sunlight on the ‘back mountain’ looked like a glacier floating in the sky.
  • Science Museum – good crowd, partly cloudy
  • Lunar Eclipse – displayed photos by Jim Blowers, Ken and Brian. The moon looked like the grin of the Cheshire Cat. Betty told us about cars parked along the road in Hanover.
  • NOVAC – John R attended – lots of people and good food
  • Camp Phoenix – Jim Langley and Jim Browder attended; fun group of attendees
  • Girl and Boy Scout group – rained out (Betty and Ken)


Welcome Visitors:

  • Donovan Brock
  • David Komar
  • Dan Foldenauer
  • Mae Woodley


Scouting Astronomy Merit Badge Opportunities: Richmond area troops occasionally need help with fulfilling astronomy merit badge requirements. Please contact Jim Browder at if you are interested in helping out.


RAS Monthly Meeting, Tuesday, November 11, 7:30 PM: The next meeting of the Richmond Astronomical Society will be on Tuesday, November 11, 7:30 PM at the Science Museum of Virginia. Madhup Rathi will present on the Mars Orbiter Mission launched by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). The craft entered orbit around Mars in September of this year. The mission is considered a great milestone for ISRO as it is the agency’s first interplanetary mission and also has the distinction of being the least expensive interplanetary mission undertaken since Mars exploration began. Please join us for the meeting to hear about this exciting mission and, if you can, for dinner before the meeting at Arby’s across the street from the Museum about 6:00 PM.


Science Museum of Virginia Skywatch, October 17, 7:30 PM: RAS will have its regular monthly skywatch at the Science Museum starting at 7:30 PM after the Museum’s planetarium show which starts at 6:30 PM. This month’s show will be Science After Dark: The Glow of the Universe, to uncover how light helps astronomers explore our universe and stay for a special showing of Tron at 8 pm. The

Museum will also be open from 5:00 to 9:00 PM for evening live science activities. More information is at:

Please join us for the evening events and skywatch and bring a telescope if you can.


RAS Fall Picnic and Observing Session, Saturday, October 18: RAS will hold our sometimes annual Fall picnic under the stars and public observing session at Belmead on the James in Powhatan County. We will have telescopes, astronomers, and a night sky orientation for the public to enjoy and RAS astronomers are welcome to observe as late as they care to throughout the night. Please join us if you can and bring a dish to share with the group — please contact David Medici (at to let him know what dish you plan to bring. As of now, Dave needs volunteers for the following items:

  • Dessert items
  • Side salads
  • Macaroni salad
  • Fruit
  • Cheese plate
  • Cold cuts

The entrance to Belmead is at 5004 Cartersville Rd in Powhatan. There will be signs showing the way to the mansion parking lot once you enter the facility. We will picnic near the mansion and observe from the parking lot. We will be setting up as early as 3:00 PM. Please make sure all food items arrive by 5:00 PM. Hope to see everyone there — Belmead is a beautiful dark sky location. Bring a chair or two if you have some extras; a few tables would help as well. Thanks!


Staunton River Star Party, October 20-26, Staunton River State Park: This year’s Fall version of the Staunton River Star Party will be held from October 20-26. The Richmond Astronomical Society will be hosting an imaging workshop at the star party on October 23 and 24th. More information about the party is at this link: is at Note that you must register in advance for the event.


East Coast Star Party, October 23-35, Coinjock, NC: Hampton Lodge Campground — Coinjock, NC; Contact Kent Blackwell, Organizer, for more info. Star party registration is $20 per person for the party — does not include camping fee of $20 per night for primitive camping, additional charges for sites with electric, water and sewer service.


Short Talk: “History of the US Atlas Rocket Program,” Ted Bethune

Ted showed us a brief history of the Atlas rocket program. His photos started with different series (Atlas 8, Atlas D, and Atlas AB) having 2 engines for propulsion. Of course, it had a few failures at the beginning, but it was successful in testing propulsion designs and the heat shield which was later used for manned missions. The rockets were launched from both Cape Canaveral and Vandenburg. Later rockets had more engines and some were used to take CIA photos. Major testing in stability during high speed travel was a benefit from this program.

Atlas rockets were used to launch NOAA satellites




Presentation: “Culpeper County Astronomy,” Myron Wasiuta

Myron Wasiuta is an eye doctor that has a strong passion for amateur astronomy, as we could tell from his very interesting talk..

A suggestion from his wife influenced Myron to start the Culpeper Astronomy club, an informal group of people who wish to learn about Astronomy. He started off as a sidewalk astronomer, and used Wilbur Stone’s 4.5-inch telescope to engage people to view the heavens. They could see details on the moon and the bands on Jupiter. The details of his work in creating the club was very interesting.

He started regular monthly meetings just a few years ago. The librarians helped him out by making flyers to hand out to the public. His meetings consisted of informal teaching of what can be seen and a session of actually going out and finding what was just discussed. This is a great opportunity to use computer software to teach deeper concepts before the viewing session. He has 2 telescopes that can be checked out by members. One of them is an 8-inch dobsonian that he built.

An exciting portion of the club over the years for Myron has been having the opportunity to see kids grow up.

Myron spoke of 3 men (Donavan, Dave, and Jerry) who were an integral part of the club – 2 of them were at our meeting. We had the pleasure of seeing photos of skywatches in Donavan’s personal observatory in his back yard.   We also saw photos of the observatory – 20’x24’ room with a roll-off roof and a 30-inch telescope in Reva, Virginia. Wow!!!


Myron encourages all to do naked eye observing and to learn the sky. Two books he recommends are “Star Light Nights” and “Starry Room”.


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