VBAS Calendar

May 2017
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NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Monte Sano State Park


Von Braun Astronomical Society

May 2017 Planetarium Shows

We Host a Public Planetarium Show Every Saturday in the Wernher von Braun Planetarium that Begins at 7:30 PM

Jules Verne - Saturday, May 6 at 7:30 PM Jules Verne

You’ve probably heard of Jules Verne, the famed science fiction writer, his works 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and Journey to the Center of the Earth have been widely read and reproduced in films. But did you know that the man who predicted electric submarines and heavier than air flight years before they became a scientific reality also very accurately predicted the Apollo programs? Join us for an investigation into the scientific facts behind Jules Verne’s works; From the Earth to the Moon, and Around the Moon. Presented by Nick Uithoven.

Are You Ready for the Great 2017 Eclipse? - Saturday, May 13 at 7:30 PM

Total Solar Eclipse/NASA

On August 21, 2017, there will be a solar eclipse visible across most of the continental United States. Schools in the past have kept students indoors to avoid the possibility of the them looking at the sun. VBAS wants to encourage the schools and the public to get out and experience this wonder.

The purpose of this presentation is to prepare everyone. Presented by Brenda Rogers, and will answer the following questions:

How to safely view the eclipse? Why eclipses occur? Where will the shadow fall? What could the weather be like? What will the eclipse be like in Huntsville?

This presentation will not be a dry lecture format but will include audience participation in explaining many parts of the eclipse. Plus the presenter will share some fun ways to view the eclipse.

During this year, VBAS will be offering this presentation to local schools as a teacher workshop.

Journey to Jupiter - Saturday, May 20 at 7:30 PM

Canceled due to power outage :( Jupiter/VBAS Frank Schenck

Travel to the king of the planets, currently shining high in the night sky, and find out how this massive gas giant is different from all other planets. Join us at the Von Braun Astronomical Society as we review what we've learned about Jupiter so far, and what new information the Juno spacecraft has shown us since it arrived at Jupiter in July of last year. Presented by Roy Young, VBAS Planetarium Director.


Globular Cluster M13 in HerculesStar Clusters - Saturday, May 27 at 7:30 PM

Our Resident Astronomer, Doug Horacek, will present a program about star clusters. Doug will talk about the different types of star clusters and give you some insight as to what astronomers know about them, as well as where to find some of them in the night sky.

Remember that if weather permits, there will be telescopes open for viewing.

If you have your own telescope, feel free to set it up after the show. If you need some assistance with setting up or operation your telescope, our ever helpful observing crew will try to help you  so that you can better enjoy the night sky.

Admission for Saturday Planetarium Shows:

Admission is $5 for Adults, $3 for Students, and free for children under 6, as well as VBAS members. Weather permitting, you will have the opportunity to look at some of the wonders of the universe through our telescopes following the planetarium program with the help of our experienced and knowledgeable observing crew.

For information about our Planetarium shows, as well as special group scheduling, and pricing, please contact our Planetarium Director,  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or our Director of Education and Programs,  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .



Tennessee Spring Star Party 2017 - May 26-28

Written by Administrator Wednesday, 22 March 2017 09:40

The Astronomy in the Parks Society, Cumberland Astronomical Society, Dyer Observatory and Fall Creek Falls State Park will be hosting the Tennessee Spring Star Party 2017 on May 26-28 at Fall Creek Falls State Park in Pikeville, Tennessee.

As in the past, TSSP 2017 is free to attend and registration is not required. All are welcome to attend and are responsible for their food and lodging. Fall Creek Falls is offering a star party package for those wishing to stay at the inn. Campsites are also available.

Call 1-800-250-8610 for reservations. Ask for the star party package for rooms at the inn.

There will be all night observing Friday and Saturday night on the observing field (observers are permitted to nap in their vehicles, but camping on the observing field is not permitted). There will be a hospitality/warming tent on the observing field with warm beverages and snacks provided.

There will be public viewing Friday and Saturday nights, 7:00-10:00pm

During the day on Saturday there will be free programs offered in the Cascade Room.

There will be vendors set up in the lobby at the inn as well as a swap table.




Monthly Society Meeting

The next VBAS Monthly Meeting is Friday, May 19 at 7:30 PM. Join us for pizza at 7:00 PM.

This is our annual meeting and we will be having elections for Vice-President, along with four other VBAS board positions. Our speaker for this month's meeting will be Dr. Massimiliano (Max) Bonamente of UAH and the title of his presentation is:

Dark Matter in Galaxy Clusters and the Universe


Dark matter is apparently the dominant form of matter in the universe, outnumbering "regular" visible matter by a factor of several. What is dark matter? Nobody knows. But we have strong evidence that it must exist.

The talk reviews some history of dark matter, major discoveries and prospect for future direct detection.



Born 1971, Italy (homeland of Galileo), US citizen since 2012

Father of two aspiring astronomers (Carlo, 8, and Gaia, 6)

Professor of Physics and Astronomy at UAH

PhD in Physics from UAH (2000)

MS in EE from Perugia, Italy (1997)

Amateur triathlete and guitar player


Tom Burleson, Jr.



A Brief VBAS History

Written by Al Reisz Sunday, 07 November 2010 20:45


In 1954 Huntsville High School student Sam Pruitt wrote a letter asking Dr. von Braun, then at Redstone Arsenal, to build an observatory for school children interested in astronomy. Von Braun didn’t hesitate in organizing his colleagues, students and others in the community to build our observatory on Monte Sano. Von Braun was our society’s first president [then known as the Rocket City Astronomical Association (RCAA)]. After his death we re-named our society in his honor. VBAS is an astronomical society for amateur and professional astronomers. VBAS is a special astronomical society in that our origins began with the citizens who fervently believed in space exploration before it began. In the early 1960s NASA scientists used the telescopes at VBAS to help select lunar landing sites for the Apollo program. VBAS history is storied with space exploration pioneers such as Oberth, von Braun, Stuhlinger, Swanson and Angele. Many of our members were involved in developing the Saturn V, the rocket that sent the Apollo astronauts to walk on and explore the Moon. Our planetarium has a shield of the Saturn V third stage fuel tank top half serving as our projection dome. VBAS is a society that provides the public with opportunities for telescopic viewing of the night sky. We have astronomy programs, star parties and astronomy related special events. Still true to our beginnings we continue to give presentations in astronomy and star tours to student and other groups. We welcome those of you with interests in exploring the stars to join us.

26 June 57 The Rocket City Astronomical Association (now the Von Braun Astronomical Society) put out the first edition of the locally edited Space Journal, a new magazine dealing with space travel and the astrosciences. The first issue was dedicated to Dr. Hermann Oberth, who is known as the

26 June 57 The Rocket City Astronomical Association (now the Von Braun Astronomical Society) put out the first edition of the locally edited Space Journal, a new magazine dealing with space travel and the astrosciences. The first issue was dedicated to Dr. Hermann Oberth, who is known as the "father of astronautics." Left to right: Dr. Hermann Oberth, Dr. Wernher von Braun, RCAA (VBAS) President, and Dr. Ernst Stuhlinger.

VBAS is the second observatory that Wernher von Braun was instrumental in building. As a student at the Lietz boys high school that he attended in Berlin, at the school’s North Sea campus on the island Spiekeroog, he influenced the school to buy a telescope and build a small observatory in 1927. He selected a reflector with a 95-mm objective lens.

Al Reisz,


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