Tyler AL award

Tyler Hutchison Wins Horkheimer Youth Award . Tyler Hutchison wins the National Horkheimer/D’Auria Youth Service Award! RAS Board Member Tyler Hutchison was recently awarded the National Horkheimer/D’Auria Youth Service Award sponsored by the Astronomical League.  This is an outstanding honor!  Congratulations Tyler! . The Award is based upon service to the League, either directly or … Read more

2019 Star Parties

Lots of star party opportunities in the mid-Atlantic region and beyond.  Below are the ones for which we have information.  If you would like another event to be listed or have more information on one of the events below, please send a note to president@richastro.org. __________________________ Winter Star Party, February 4 – 10, Camp Weesumkee … Read more

Governor’s Visit to Staunton River State Park

Many thanks to the RAS astronomers who helped support Governor Terry McAuliffe’s visit to Staunton River State Park. Ray Moody, John Raymond, Pernel Johnson, Jim Langley and I were there. Tyler and Angie Hutchison and Kathryn Raymond were there in spirit – things came up at the last minute that prevented them from joining us. … Read more

Notable Sky Sights in Late December

The Ursid meteor shower will be active between December 17 and 24 with its expected peak late December 21 into the early morning hours of December 22 (http://www.space.com/34973-ursid-meteor-shower-guide.html). Meteor showers are unpredictable in terms of the number and brightness of the meteors they produce, but if the weather permits, you might see some interesting meteors … Read more

Sydney Mabry in the News!

Sydney Mabry and her dad, Mark, have been members of RAS for some time and Sydney has made presentations at monthly meetings.  One of her presentations was a description of how she and her dad built a telescope together – the same telescope that you might have seen at a number of Astronomy Day and … Read more

Belmead Update

Belmead update – good news / bad news:  The bad news is that the Belmead property is now officially on the market and this situation jeopardizes long-term continuation of our observing at Belmead and our outreach facility there, not to mention preservation of the property in general.  The good news is that a new non-profit organization, aptly named “Belmead on the James, Inc.,”  committed to preservation of the property, has been created and is planning to submit a bid for purchase of the property. However, they need our help along with help from all those interested in preserving this valuable, historic and dark sky site in Powhatan County.  A November 1 press release about the organization is here.
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Belmead once existed as a place of human enslavement and was transformed in the 1890’s into a place of empowerment and education.  With the right amount of support, Belmead will continue to exist as a model of land stewardship, agriculture, equestrian activity, a living history museum and as a place of environmental education and preservation.  It will also serve as a place that offers astronomers a respite from urban lights where we can observe, image and share views of night sky wonders through our outreach education efforts.  The Belmead on the James organization is planning to submit a proposal to purchase, preserve and manage the property in a way that is compatible with this vision for the future of Belmead.
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To make this happen and to ensure that their proposal is credible and competitive, Belmead on the James needs to raise $400,000 by December 1.  They have asked 4,000 of their supporters to donate $100 each to reach this goal.  If you can help Belmead on the James preserve this important property along with its history, its environment and its dark skies, please do so. Preservation of this important site will benefit a number of varied interests, including local amateur astronomy and science education.  You can donate or learn more about Belmead on the James at http://www.belmeadonthejames.com/donate.

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Non-profit kicks-off campaign to raise $400,000 to purchase historic Belmead on the James.
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POWHATAN, VIRGINIA November 1, 2016 – The newly formed nonprofit Belmead on the James, Inc. today launched a major campaign to raise $400,000 towards the purchase of the Belmead property in Powhatan, Virginia from the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament (SBS). The 2,265-acre property is the site where St. Emma Military Academy and St. Francis de Sales High School, established by Louise Drexel Morrell and Saint Katharine Drexel respectively, operated from 1895 to 1972 and educated over 15,000 African American youth. On May 3, 2016, the SBS announced their intention to sell Belmead, and on October 26, 2016 the property was officially placed on the market.

Read moreBelmead Update

Glow

The RAS skywatch scheduled for October 21 at the Science Museum of Virginia was canceled due to clouds.  However, the less-than-favorable observing weather provided an opportunity for RAS astronomers on site to take in the Science Museum’s “Glow” event where we experienced lots of great displays including a Bernoulli blast of ping pong balls, resonant pendulums, lots of fluorescence and even fire dancers from the very proficient Circular Expressions dance troupe! The Science Museum did an excellent job with the event. Below is a short video.

Read moreGlow

Geology at the RAS Observatory?

Geology is a little different for us, but we are an eclectic lot and have widely varying interests. Recently RAS member Randy Tatum hosted Michael Davias and friends from the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences to sample the sediments underlying the RAS Ragland Observatory.  As it turns out, our observatory sits in one of a number of a “Carolina Bays,” which are depressions along the Atlantic seaboard that are often not readily visible from the ground, but can be identified through aerial photography and LIDAR. Michael Davias is hoping to use data from the cores collected at our observatory to help understand more about the formation of these interesting features.  The core data will also enhance general understanding of the geology in the Bon Air area where our observatory is located.

Read moreGeology at the RAS Observatory?

Citizen Science

If you have read more than a few of our updates, you will have had the pleasure of seeing some beautiful images captured and processed by Madhup Rathi.  In addition to taking pretty pictures, he also submits asteroid tracking data to the Minor Planet Center & University Of Arizona scientists, as they are interested in … Read more