Richmond Astronomical Society

September Meeting Minutes

Oct 9th, 2012 | By | Category: Meetings

RichmondAstronomical Society

756th Consecutive Meeting

September 11, 2012



Greetings – approximately 33 in attendance at the meeting.

Jim Browder called our meeting to order in theEurekaroom.


Share Table

  • Jim displayed a portion of the RAS website having to do with the VAAS meeting information.  He also mentioned that RAS has a Facebook site.
  • Jim also announced that John Raymond has completed requirements to receive the Astronomical League’s Double Star certificate.  He observed and documented the sightings of 120 double stars, when he only needed 50.
  • Ken announced that there had been another (single) collision of Jupiter and a comet.


Library Report

Virginiareported all is OK, and that we are now sharing room with a few other clubs in the RAS/RAC library.  Her collection of books to display this month are: Birth and Death of the Sun (1940), Some Famous Stars (1950), Our Sun (1949 and autographed), New Earths, Man and the Stars, Pictorial Guide to the Planets


Events and Individual Observing

Recent Events:

  • Belmead event – clouded out
  • SMV skywatch – clouded out
  • PetersburgBattlefieldPark  – clouded out
  • Ray Moody attended Stellafane in Springfield, Vermontfor the 22nd time.  It is the oldest astronomy convention in the world, starting back in 1923.  Attendance (1000) was down from the past.  The ‘meteorite guys’ were there, too.


Upcoming Events:

  • Virginia Association of Astronomical Societies Annual Meeting, September 15: Please join us and invite your astronomer friends! This year’s VAAS meeting will be held at the Heart of Virginia Scout Reservation which has dark skies, convenient location and great facilities.  Besides camping facilities, bunkhouses are available for overnight stays.  Presentations, solar observing, displays, lunch, dinner and door prizes are scheduled during the day on September 15 with nighttime observing on Friday night, September, 14 and Saturday night, September 15. RAS members may arrive as early as 1:00 PM on Friday. If you can help with this event, please contact Betty Wilson at
  • Skywatch at Henry Clay / Gandy Elementary, September 20, 7:00 PM: Skywatch to celebrate International Observe the Moon Night at Gandy Elementary inAshland,VA.Please contact Jim Browder at if you want to help with this event.  Contact is Melissa Mathews.
  • Science Museum Skywatch, September 21: Please sign up and bring a telescope if you can. More information is at The RAS skywatch will start at dusk after the LiveSky planetarium show.  Food trucks will be selling food in the parking lot.
  • Skywatch at Scotchtown, September 21, 6:30 PM: Please contact Allan Noah at or Jim Browder at if you can help with this event.
  • Next RAS meeting, October 9, 7:30 PM: Please join us if you can. A number of us also gather before the meeting at Arby’s across the street from the Museum about 6:00 PM.
  • East Coast Star Party, October 11-13,Coinjock,NC: Please contact Kent Blackwell at for more information.
  • Staunton River Star Party, October 11-16: Star party hosted by the Chapel Hill Astronomy and Observing Society (CHAOS) atStauntonRiverState ParknearScottsburg,VA.See for more information.  You must pre-register by October 1.
  • Petersburg National Battlefield, October 20, 7:00 PM: Please contact Ray Moody at if you can help with this event.
  • Belmead on James Skywatch, October 27, 7:30 PM: Skywatch at Belmead on the James / Thomas Berry Educational Center, Powhatan. RAS will deploy astronomers and telescopes for the event and there will be an indoor introductory session prior to the observing session. This is an easily accessible dark sky location with plenty of parking adjacent to the observing site. Please contact Jim Browder at if you can help with this event. More info about Belmead and the ThomasBerryEducationalCenteris at
  • Open House atLangleyAir Force Base on September 22.


Visitor Welcome:

  • Aditya Rathi (father of Madhup)
  • Stephanie Casey
  • John Ravnak


2013 RAS Board of Directors

Jim briefly explained that RAS needed to elect a board of directors for 2013.  If anyone is interested, please see Jim Blowers or anyone on the selection committee.   Candidates will be formally announced at October meeting and will be voted on in November.




Major Presentation:

“Origin of Light,” Madhup Rathi

I felt like I was back in college Physics again.  Madhup, being from an accounting and finance background, took a complicated subject and presented it to the club.  His presentation described how light (visible and invisible) light is created by the Sun.  He started out by comparing the physical size differences between Earth and the Sun.  The Sun is mostly Hydrogen (73%) and Helium (25%) and a handful of other elements that make up the remaining 2%.  It can hold 71 million Earths.  Madhup stated that the 4 forces of nature (Gravity, Weak, Strong, and ElectroMagnetism) would be discussed.  The Weak and Strong forces exist at the nuclear level, explaining how atomic nuclei and electrons react with each other. 

Most of the activity occurs in the central core of the Sun where the density is 150 times that of water, and at 15 million degrees, it’s like a soup of Hydrogen ions that will interact with each other, creating massive energy release and light.  This energy release has to work its way up to the surface, sometimes taking over 17,000 years to make the journey.  The initial gamma rays created at the core would kill everyone.  During the transition upward to the Sun surface, the light goes through massive changes affecting its wavelengths, thus creating different types of light and radiation, and luckily weakening the intensity.  The Sun loses 5 million tons of matter every second.  The range of light includes ultra-violet, visible, and infra-red.

An example of this type of energy transaction on Earth was the detonation of the hydrogen bomb in 1945.





The next RAS meeting will be Tuesday, October 9th at the SMV.

The next board meeting will be Monday, November 19th at Extra Billy’s at 7:00 PM (arrive earlier for dinner). Meeting is open to all members.


Check out the web site at

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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