Richmond Astronomical Society

September Meeting Minutes

Mar 7th, 2011 | By | Category: Meetings

Richmond Astronomical Society

732nd Consecutive Meeting

September 14, 2010


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

Greeting & Announcements – approximately 33 in attendance at the meeting.

Please check the link to our RAS blog:

The Board of Directors Nominating Committee is been selected at this time.  Prashant Reddy has stepped up to be the chairman of the committee.  Other members of the committee are David Medici, Bill Jeffries, and Cal Pletcher.

If you are in need of RAS name tags, please contact Jim Blowers.

Share table:

Ken Wilson displayed an Orion imaging scope and photos taken through it.

John Raymond has eyepieces and a dewstrap for sale.

Jeff Pike has a 10-inch Dob for sale.  See him, if interested.

John Browder has a thank you card to Wayne Boggs, for members to sign.  Wayne Boggs is a former RAS President and the owner of the Richmond Alarm Company, new home of our library.

Past Events:

Science Museum skywatch was a success with clear skies and a “decent sized” crowd.

Outreach events are being scheduled and are on our RAS calendar. (See upcoming events.)

Individual observing:

Cal was at Powhatan and saw Neptune through a 8-inch scope.  Jim Browder was also in Powhatan.  Tom K hit a deer while out there.

ReedH saw Jupiter and the transit of Io; also saw Uranus.

A new member also saw Jupiter and 3 of its moons.

Jupiter is at opposition, and is at a close approach to Earth.

Upcoming Events:

An open house is scheduled for 8:30pm on Wednesday, September 15th at the Ragland Observatory Open House, weather permitting.  Watch the Richastro Yahoo group for updates.  Objects to view: Neptune, Quarter Moon, and Jupiter (after 10pm).
Science Museum Skywatch / LiveSky show – Friday, September 17.  LiveSky will be held at 6:00pm, and will be “Jurasic Night”.  Please sign up if you can bring a scope.  Expect a crowd.

International Observe the Moon night is September 18.  More information at .

2 Outreach events:

September 18, 4:00 PM, Skywatch at the City Point Unit of Petersburg National Battlefield (Grant’s headquarters).  Please contact John Raymond at if you can help out.

Skywatch at Scotchtown in Hanover County: September 24, 7:00pm. For more info, see  Please contact John Raymond at if you can help out.

VAAS (Virginia Association of Astronomical Societies) annual conference on October 9th at Roanoke College in Roanoke, Virginia.  Scheduled from 8:30am-4:30pm with evening observing (  There is a New Moon that evening.

RAS Fall picnic is scheduled for October 16 at Heart of Virginia Scout Reservation, 1723 Maidens Road, Maidens, Virginia in Goochland County.  See for directions.  RAS will supply the hamburgers and hot dogs.  Please bring a covered dish and let Prashant Reddy ( know what you are bringing.

East Coast Star Party on October 29-30 at Hampton Lodge Campgrounds in Coinjock, NC.  Advance registration is not required.  Contact Kent Blackwell at for more information.

Fall Star Party on November 6th .  The Heart of Virginia Scout Council is hosting a public star party. More info at .

Dues announcement:

Annual dues are due and should be given to Jim Blowers.  Membership is $30.  Observatory memberships and magazine subscriptions increase the amount.

Payment can be made by PayPal at

Observatory Report (John Barnett):

Overcast skies and light rain prevented last month’s open house.

John Barnett will be hosting an open house for members and guests on Sunday, October 17th at 8:30pm.  Weather advisory and a reminder will be emailed to all members.

Prior to the open house, at 6:30pm, an observatory staff training class will be held.

Contact Jim Blowers to update your email address if it has changed.

Library Report (Virginia Eckert).  Virginia has been organizing the books at the newly located library, and is documenting the missing books. She brought in 5 books, having a paperbook theme this month:

Observing For the Fun of It, Discoverers, Origin of the Universe, Rocks From Space, and Tales of Earth.    

Visitors:  none

Short talk  –  “Mauna Kea Observatory” by Jey Jeyasankar

Jey recently visited the Mauna Kea observatory in Hawaii and delighted us with several photos and stories of his journey.  There is an assortment of 18 optical observatories with mirrors ranging from 0.6 – over 2 meters in diameter, along with the largest IR telescope in the world.  At 9300 feet of elevation, the air is very dry and provides clear skies almost every night, at an average nighttime temperature of 40 degrees. Everyone needs to get used to the thin air at that altitude.  The trek to the observatory is an 80-mile journey across dry rocky desert-like land.  There are no stores or gas stops along the way.

Break – –

September’s Presentation: “Dark Flow” by Jeff Pike

Jeff first saw information about the Dark Flow at the end of a Discover show. 

The Dark Flow is about the mysterious flow of many galaxies across the universe towards one region.  Most of us understand the visible matter, but this concerns a theoretical dark matter, which is not directly detectible.  Many theorists believe this dark matter makes up about 25% of the known universe.  Early investigation has been credited to Fritz Zwickey from about 1933.  His studies have suggested a 20-degree patch of the sky that galaxies are moving to.  Research exists that has Vela Centaurus (in the Southern hemisphere) moving towards this sector at 2 million mph.

Keep in mind this is still a theory, and there has been conflicting research, too.



The next RAS meeting and elections will be Tuesday, October 12th at the SMV.

The next board meeting will be Monday, November 15th at Extra Billy’s at 7:00 PM (arrive earlier for dinner). Meeting is open to all members.

Check out the web site at

Virginia Skylines: Be sure to check out the latest version of Virginia Skylines on our web site.  Virginia Skylines is a weekly podcast written by Leslie Bochenski, astronomy educator with the Science Museum and Thomas Jefferson High School.

RAS Café Press store.  Please take a look at the online store where you can purchase items embossed with the RAS label. The site can be found at .

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