August 2016 Meeting Minutes

Richmond Astronomical Society

803rd Consecutive Meeting

August 9, 2016


Greetings – approximately 31 in attendance at the meeting.

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


Announcements / Share Table


Thanks to Tom Stepka for last month’s presentation on the curvature of space. Tom’s slides will be posted on the main page under the “Blog” link.


We need some shelves: We could use some shelves at our Belmead outreach facility for organizing small astro equipment items. If anyone has some old ones they could donate it would be much appreciated!


What I did on my summer vacation” A visit to JPL and the Griffith Observatory with Leslie Bochenski


Library Report: Virginia Eckert


Welcome Visitors:

Hazel Vargas


Events and Individual Observing:

RAS members

Science Museum

“JPL and Griffith Observatory — What I did on My Summer Vacation,” Leslie Bochenski


ALCON 2016 registration is open! ALCon is the annual convention of the Astronomical League, held in a different location in the US each year. ALCon is an excellent opportunity to speak with and learn from other astronomers and experts in various fields. This year, ALCon is in Washington, DC – only a couple hours away, August 10-13. Registration and more information is at .


Powhatan State Park skywatch, Saturday, August 13, 8:00 PM:

Please join us at the trail head parking area for a skywatch in under the dark skies of Powhatan. Once you enter the park drive to the end of the state road maintenance and turn left into the trail head parking area. A Google map to the skywatch location is on our web page at under the RAS Update tab or at at     John Bamett is the lead astronomer for this skywatch.


RAS Board of Directors Meeting, August 15, 7:00 PM: Meeting is at Extra Billy’s on West Broad St. Dinner reservations will be made for 6:00 PM for those that wish to eat.


Science Museum Skywatch, Friday, August 19, 6:30 PM: Skywatch at the Museum in conjunction with the Museum’s Science After Dark event. Please join us and bring a telescope if you can. Sunset is about 8:00 PM — should have a near full moon to view in the evening prior to sunset.


RAS Monthly Meeting, Tuesday, September 13, 7:30 PM, Science Museum of Virginia: Please join us for the meeting and, if you can, for dinner before the meeting about 6:00 PM at Chicken Fiesta across the street from the Museum. For those that cannot attend the meeting in person, we will stream video of the meeting (internet bandwidth permitting) at


Staunton River Star Party, October 24-30: Registration is now open for the Staunton River Star Party at Staunton River State Park More info at . The park is near Clarksville, Scottsburg, and South Boston, Virginia and is designated as an IDA Dark Sky Park.


2016 Star Parties: Lots of star parties in 2016. The events for which we currently have information are listed at: php/blog/2016-star-parties/


Astro-imaging hangouts on Google: Bryan Hartley has been most generous in sharing with us his images and the expertise he is rapidly gaining with Pixinsight, a very powerful image processing tool, specifically tuned to the needs of astronomical image processing. Bryan is having an informal series of Google hangouts on astro-image processing with Pixinsight. If you want to join in the hangouts, please contact


Belmead in Peril! As many of you know, Belmead in Powhatan, where we have held a number of skywatches, indoor presentations, and several fall picnics is planned to be sold. This is enormously disappointing on many levels. Aside from our specific interest in the property as a dark sky observing and outreach education site, Belmead is an absolute treasure. It has had a lifetime as an old southern plantation from the 1840’s into the 1870’s, followed by a second lifetime as a school for African American and Native American youth from the 1890’s into the 1970’s, and yet a third rejuvenation as an environmental and community center and a model of land stewardship. A petition has been created to request reconsideration of the decision to sell. Please consider signing the petition to support efforts to preserve Belmead. Hopefully there will be a positive outcome. We will provide updates as information becomes available.




Presentation: “Gravitational Wave Detection —Wave Hello to the Gravitons Passing By,” Mike Lico