Richmond Astronomical Society

October 2015 Meeting Minutes

Nov 8th, 2015 | By | Category: Meetings

Richmond Astronomical Society
793rd Consecutive Meeting
October 13, 2015

Greetings – approximately 33 in attendance at the meeting.
Jim Browder called our meeting to order in the Eureka meeting room

Announcements / Share Table
• Dues are due: RAS dues for next year are due by the end of 2015. Please pay your dues payment to our treasurer, Jim Blowers, by mail, in person at a meeting or by PayPal at Dues are $30 per year. We make every effort to keep our costs to a minimum — funds go to support our outreach efforts, club gatherings, observatory, science fair awards and astronomical league dues. Thanks very much for all of the great support from our members and friends!
• 2016 Astronomical calendars are for sale from Jim Blowers, for $6.50 each.
• Board of Directors nominees for 2016 were introduced. Club elections will be done at the November meeting. Officer elections will be done at the Board meeting. There is still 1 opening if anybody is interested. Is interested, please contact Dave Medici or Bill Newman. Thanks to Dave and Bill.
• Leslie accepting donations for a kidney walk to support research by the National Kidney Foundation.
• VAAS photos that Jim Blowers had taken.

Welcome Visitors:
• Chris Johnston, music teacher at Thomas Dale
• Elyse Hawthorne

Events and Individual Observing:
RAS member observing – Orionids, Jupiter, Mars, Venus; Chris saw the lunar eclipse at NagsHead (clouded out in Richmond)
Science Museum – good crowd, very interesting questions
VAAS 2015 – well attended in Charlottesville; weather affected some activities
Belmead Cub Scout observing – John Raymond and Jim Blowers attended and reported there was a very good crowd

Upcoming Events
Monthly RAS Meeting, Tuesday, November 10, 7:30 PM: Please join us for the meeting at 7:30 PM 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, starting at 7:30 PM, internet bandwidth permitting, at

Staunton River Star Party, Staunton River State Park, October 12-18: Star party in the newest dark sky park in the east! More information at If you have a chance to attend, this is an outstanding star party in a great location, with great facilities, excellent staff and with dark skies! This party is very much worth attending and supporting. The Chapel Hill club and the Park staff have done an awesome job making this party happen and protecting the dark sky resources of the area. The weather forecast is looking quite good as well.

Science Museum Skywatch, Friday, October 16, 7:00 PM: Our regular monthly skywatch at the Science Museum is scheduled to start about 7:00 PM after the Museum’s Science After Dark exhibits, activities and planetarium show at 6:30. Please join us if you can.

Science Pub RVA, October 20, 6:30 PM at Kampot at Balliceaux: Dr Jack Singal, with the University of Richmond, will discuss the science behind exoplanet hunting and the wealth of knowledge that has been accumulated. The event location is below with more information at this link:

Kampot at Balliceaux
203 North Lombardy Avenue Richmond, VA 23220
$0 —$5 suggested donation

RAS Fall picnic, Belmead on the James, Saturday, November 14, 4:00 PM: RAS will have its fall picnic at Belmead this year adjacent to the mansion, followed by observing as long as astronomers have the steam and skies to observe. Please join us for the picnic and bring a dish to share. Belmead is a beautiful dark sky location in Powhatan County adjacent to the James River The location of the entrance to Belmead is 5004 Cartersvillle Road, Powhatan, VA. Matthew Roy and David Medici will coordinate the picnic.

L C Bird High School Astronomy Club, the Star Birds, is having a skywatch on Wednesday, October 21 at the school. It’ll start about 6:30. Please contact David Medici if interested in helping.

Short presentation: Madhu – “Remote Astronomy”
Madhu took a few minutes to explain his automated procedure to use his remote observatory about 30 miles from here. He uses CCD Commander to create scripts to control his observatory and his telescope. This prevents him from having to stay up (and outside) all night. During his few minutes, he demonstrated this software to photograph a star in M27. His photo had a 31 second field of view, and resulted in a photo of a bright star and a few other stars around it. This same process has been used to capture some beautiful photos that many of us have seen over the past few years.


Presentation: “The Space Program from Down Under”, Ted Bethune
Ted’s presentation was a quick history of the Australian space program. He started off showing a short video about the Black Arrow launches followed by the Europa launch. He followed this with photos from 1950-1970s, while the space research was active. Since the British and the Australians were concerned about the cold war, some of their first rockets carried ballistic missiles on it. Most of these were the Blue Streak, which had its share of successes and failures.
The European Space program developed the Europa, which launched with a mixture of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen in its tanks.
He moved on and showed photos of the Black Arrow. The Black Arrow was about 2 meters in diameter and, when launched, had an clean invisible flame due to the special fuel being used.
The Black Knight was the first rocket that reached 110 miles in altitude.
Another photo showed where the Blue Streak had to be lifted into position in the gantry to be ready for flight.
He had a photo showing abandoned launch gantries in Remora. None of the launches by Australia were manned.
It could be seen in the photos that most of these rockets were launched from a desert environment .

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