Richmond Astronomical Society

September 2015 Meeting Minutes

Nov 8th, 2015 | By | Category: Meetings

Richmond Astronomical Society
792nd Consecutive Meeting
September 8, 2015

Greetings – approximately 36 in attendance at the meeting.
Jim Browder called our meeting to order in the Eureka meeting room

Announcements / Share Table
• Telescope for sale: RAS member Bill Nelson has a very lightly used 10-inch Orion Dobsonian with Intelliscope computerized object locator system and accessories which include a color filter set, two 1.25” eyepieces (25mm and 10mm), 9×50 right-angle correct-image finder scope with bracket mount, dust cover, collimation cap, 4—hole eyepiece rack, padded carrying case and a copy of the book “Turn Left At Orion”. All for $750. If you are in the market for a good deep-sky scope that is already assembled, tested and easy to deploy, this is a great deal.
• Board of Directors nominating committee was introduced and its mission over the next 2 months was discussed. Anybody interested in being on the Board, please contact Dave Medici or Bill Newman.
• RAS membership dues are due. Annual membership is $30. Observatory personnel fees are an additional $10. Magazine subscriptions are available for Sky&Telescope, and for Astronomy.
• The latest Reflector magazine – all RAS members should be getting. It has an article on Safety in Observing.
• An old Boy Scout Merit Badge book
• Information about the upcoming VAAS meeting.
• A newspaper article about the Hospice center near the Ragland observatory.
• A copy of a 1916 star chart
• John Raymond had eyepieces for sale.
• A found hat that was lost at a recent skywatch

Library Report – Virginia brought in the following for displaying:
How to Identify the Stars (1909), by Willis Milham
The Search for our Beginning (1983), by Robert Hutchison
Some Famous Stars (1950) by W. M. Smart
Observatinal Astronomy for Amateurs (1982) by J B Sidgwick
The Story of the Moon (1943) by Dr. Clyde Fisher
Living the Sky: The Cosmos of the American Indian (1984) by Ray Williamson

Events and Individual Observing: RAS members, SMV skywatch had 150-200 attendees who observed sun dogs, Saturn, and the Moon. ISS even had a bright exciting flyover.

Monthly RAS Meeting, Tuesday, October 13, 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. We will stream video of the meeting at http://www.ustreamtv/channei/richastro

Powhatan State Park Skywatch, Saturday, September12, 8:00 PM: Skywatch at the parking lot near the end of the park access road. We will post signs in the park showing the way to the skywatch area. Please join us and bring a telescope if you can. At the last Powhatan State Park event we were a little short on telescopes — we had quite a few more visitors than we anticipated, so we could use a couple more telescopes this time around. Please let Jim Browder know if you can bring a telescope at

East Coast Video Astronomy Rendezvous, September 13-19, Galax, VA, Cool Breeze Campground:

Science Museum Skywatch, Friday, September 18, 7:00 PM: Our regular monthly skywatch at the Science Museum is scheduled to start at 7:00 PM after the Museum’s Science After Dark exhibits, activities and planetarium show at 6:30. Please join us if you can.
Twin Hickory Library skywatch and presentation, Tuesday, September 22, 7:00 PM: Skywatch at the Twin Hickory Library in Henrico County at 5001 Twin Hickory Rd Glen Allen, VA 23059. There will be a brief presentation from 7:00 to 7:30 PM, followed by observing at about 7:45 pm. The rain/cloud date will be Wednesday, Sep. 23. contact Madhup Rathi, if you can bring a telescope @201-988-9206.

Camp Hanover Stargazing, Saturday, September 26, 7:00 PM: The Camp Phoenix Virginia organization will be holding its annual camp at camp Hanover for adult cancer survivors and RAS will be there to stargaze with the campers. Please contact if you can attend and bring a telescope. Location of the camp is at this link:

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Open House, Saturday, September 26, 11:00 AM — 5:00 PM: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, will host a free open house. This will be an opportunity to get up close and learn more about NASA’s work and to interact with NASA scientists and engineers. Visitors can explore the operations of the Hubble Space Telescope and the clean room for the James Webb Space Telescope, among many others. NASA is encouraging groups like RAS to attend.
More at

Total Lunar Eclipse, Sunday, September 27, 8:00 PM: Weather permitting, RAS will view the total lunar eclipse from the Science Museum of Virginia and will broadcast the event at The Museum will be open until midnight with indoor astronomical activities from 8- 10! Please join us. Eclipse begins: Sun, Sep 27, 2015 at 8:11 PM with maximum at 10:47 PM and ends at 1:22 AM.

Annual Meeting of the Virginia Association of Astronomical Societies, October 3, Charlottesville: The Virginia Association of Astronomical Societies annual meeting is being hosted by the Charlottesville Astronomical Society at the headquarters of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory at the University of Virginia with an evening tour & observing at McCormick Observatory.

NOVAC Star Gaze, Saturday, October 3, 3-11 PM, Fauquier County, C. M. Crockett Park: Usually there are 50-70 telescopes.

East Coast Star Party, October 8-10, Coinjock, NC: Casual star gazing in a coastal environment with the friendliest astronomers anywhere. The star party will be at the Hampton Lodge Campground in Coinjock. Contact Kent Blackwell at for more information.

Staunton River Star Party, Staunton River State Park, October 12-18: Star party in the newest dark sky park in the east! More at http://www.chaosastro.corn/starparty/. Register by October 1. 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.

A fall picnic is in the planning in November, probably at Ragland or Belmead

Observatory training session is in the planning at the Ragland observatory. If interested, please let us know.


Presentation: “Universal Numbers,’ Jim Blowers
Jim investigated the idea of Astronomical and Universal constant numbers. There are several numbers that all scientists take for granted, and many non-scientists do not know about (nor understand). One-by-one, Jim discussed several, describing what they are and some trivia about some of them. He then looked at some of the values and asked ‘what if this number changed either bigger or smaller’. How would the change affect life, physics, or the universe in general? To me, that twist was quite interesting.
He started with 0 and compared it to infinity. After discussing the significance of 1, he discussed 2 and the use of binary in science. A list of the constants that he discussed includes:
• E (2.718281828459)
• Supertwo
• A mathematical puzzle named the ‘Hat check girl’. If a hat check girl scrambles all of the hats ina restaurant and randomly hands them back to customers, the probablility that noone gets the right hat back is (1- 1/e).
• Warp 2
• Pi (relationship between diameter and circumference of a circle)
• 3-dimensions
• Speed of light
• Gravitational constant of 2 masses: F=(Gm1m2)/(r2). G value is 6.67 * 10-11 .
• If G changed in either direction, it would affect planetary motion and their orbits.
• The Electromagnetic/Gravity ratio of 2.398 * 1041 would strongly change our lives if that changed.
• Avogadro’s number of N = 6.023 * 1023
• Absolute zero (0 degrees Kelvin) Microwave radiation in the universe is 3 degrees K.
• The ideal gas equation and constant. PV=nRT, where r=8.314
• Boltzmann constant relates energy at the particle level. K = R/N. R is the gas constant (from above) and N is Avogadro’s number (from above). Therefore, K is approximately 1.38 * 10-23
• Planck’s constant is the relationship between photon energy and the wave frequency.
• Chandrasekhar limit is the maximum mass of a stable white dwarf star, or 2.765 × 1030 kg.
• Schwartzchild radius is the radius of a sphere such that, if all the mass of an object were to be compressed within that sphere, the escape velocity from the surface of the sphere would equal the speed of light. An example of an object where the mass is within its Schwarzschild radius is a black hole.
• Hubble constant is roughly the relation between the distance D to a galaxy (which can change over time and its velocity v. H=v/D
• Omega is a mathematical constant approximately equal to 0.56714 where A is omega and solves the equation A * eA = 1 .

There are many values that can be declared as ‘Parameters of the universe’. Luckily, they are constant – will not change and will not affect life adversely.

OK, . . . . where does Dark Matter fit in?

Ahhh . . .memories of college physics

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