Richmond Astronomical Society

September 2013 Meeting Minutes

Nov 5th, 2013 | By | Category: Meetings

Richmond Astronomical Society
768th Consecutive Meeting
September 10, 2013

Greetings – approximately 29 in attendance at the meeting.
Jim Browder called our meeting to order in the Eureka meeting room.

Announcements / Share Table
• Request for help with Sept. 28-29 Camp Hanover (Camp Phoenix) Event — please advise Jim Browder at if you can help
• Board Nominating Committee Chairman — Dave Medici
• U of R Telescopes — Hank Nebel has 2 old telescopes to give away to whoever wants them. Both need cleaning and upkeep. Several people expressed interest.
• RAS Facebook Page: For those that use facebook, please feel free to visit the Richmond Astronomical Society’s facebook page, kindly administered by member Bill Dickinson.
• John R and Grace Sutton are both down sizing and donated books and miscellaneous telescope equipment, and storage containers to any interested members.
• Someone donated a green starchart reader (literature states green backing is better than red)
• 2014 membership dues are due. 2014 calendars for sale for $6.50. See Jim Blowers for either.

Library Report:
• Virginia said all is well at RAC, room was more crowded than before. She brought in 6 books for members to check out:
• The Naming of the Telescope (1947)
• 20-cm Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope manual
• Guide to Planets by Patrick Moore
• Return to the Moon by Buzz Aldrin
• Cosmic Debris
• The Atlas of the Solar System

Events and Individual Observing
Recent Events:
• Photos of the launch of LADEE to the Moon were taken by Jim Browder. Brian has a great shot of the rocket and its plume, which can be found on the RAS website. Many others commented on the plume and a smoke trail behind it. David Medici saw the launch and its reflection on a lake in the Adirondacks.
• Science Museum – clouded out
• Belmead on the James – many thanks to all the astronomers (18) and visitors who attended the skywatch at Belmead in Powhatan this past Saturday. The sky was beautiful and RAS was well represented. If anyone captured some good images of the gathering, please send them to for our electronic scrapbook.

Upcoming Events:
• Science Museum of Virginia Skywatch, Friday, September 20, 8:00 PM: RAS will have its regular monthly skywatch at the Science Museum after the LiveSky planetarium show at 6:00 PM. The topic is “Observatories of Central Virginia”. Please join us for the skywatch and bring a telescope if you can.
• Next RAS Meeting, Tuesday, October 8, 7:30 PM: Regular monthly meeting at the Science Museum of Virginia. Please join us for the meeting and for dinner before the meeting if you can at Arby’s across the street from the Museum.
• Science Pub RVA, Tuesday, September 17, 5:30 PM: Our friends at Science Pub RVA are starting their new season of gatherings at the Camel on Broad Street. The topic of the first session will be on the mystery of autism. More information at
• East Coast Video Astronomy Rendezvous (ECVAR), Sept. 29 — Oct. 6, Galax, VA: Video astronomers — mark your calendars. The next ECVAR event will be held at a site near Galax, VA, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway near the NC line, Grayson Highlands State Park and Mt. Rogers. There are great facilities, dark skies and lots to see and do during the day as well. More information is at
• Staunton River Star Party, Oct. 1-6: The Fall Star Party in Staunton River State Park, hosted by the Chapel Hill Club, will be held October 1-6. The park has been supportive of the event and Camera Concepts will be in attendance this year as well as several presenters. More information is at
• Virginia Association of Astronomical Societies, Annual Meeting, Oct. 5, C. M. Crockett Park, 8:30 AM through the night: This year’s annual meeting of VAAS and stargazing event will be hosted by the Northern Virginia Astronomy Club at Crockett Park, near Warrenton, VA. More information is at After a light breakfast for attendees, there will be several presentations running up to a catered lunch around noon. During the daylight hours there will be safe solar viewing and at night observing equipment can be set up by your cars on the large observing field.
• RAS Fall Picnic, Saturday, October 12, 4:00 PM, at Belmead on the James in Powhatan (tentative): Please hold the date for a FaH picnic and observing session, tentatively scheduled for October 12 at Belmead on the James in Powhatan. Watch for more details as they become available. Belmead on the James is located at 5004 Cartersville Road in Powhatan County.
• Skywatch at Petersburg National Battlefield — Hopewell, Saturday October 12, 7:00 PM (tentative): Please contact Ray Moody at (804) 943-8318 if you can help with this event. The location is in Hopewell at Grant’s Headquarter’s at City Point, 1001 Pecan Avenue, Hopewell, VA.
• East Coast Star Party, Oct. 31 — Nov. 2, Hampton Lodge Campground, Coinjock, NC: Casual astronomy in a coastal environment. Please contact Kent Blackwell at for more information.

• Martin Mitchell
• Charlise Prestwood
• Sid Kere
• Cassandra Slater

“Space Program Update,” Ted Bethune
Ted displayed a photo assortment of many historic occurrences in the Space Program for US and Russia. There were photos of various astronauts and cosmonauts, along with several photos of spacecrafts, such as MIR, Soyuz, and Skylab.


Presentation: ‘The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence,” Jim Blowers
Jim addressed the big question of “If there is intelligent life somewhere else than on Earth?” After starting his talk with the attempts of SETI3, he started reviewing the mathematical power of the Drake Equation, developed for this reason.
If intelligent life existed, they would be expected to colonize the galaxies. So, how long do we wait for them to start populating or visit the entire galaxy? Have they had enough time?
Jim explained how to estimate the values used in several factors in different versions of the Drake equation. He used the age of the galaxy as 30 million years. He also considered there is a good desire to communicate and travel to other galaxies if there is intelligent life. That’s a good factor for eventually meeting them.
After considering many things and the calculations of the equations, Jim expected 4-200 million extra-terrestrial beings probably exists, but they are too far for us to detect.


While cleaning up after the meeting, Jim Browder showed the Ultra HDTV video prank that shows a catastrophic disaster supposedly occurring outside the ‘office window’ during a job interview.

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