VBAS Calendar

March 2018
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11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Monte Sano State Park


Von Braun Astronomical Society

March 2018 Planetarium Shows

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

Spying on the Sun - Saturdays, March 3, & 10 at 7:30 PM

The inhabitants of Earth have launched several spy satellites to keep tabs on the Sun. Our closest star is our source of life, thus it is extremely important to learn as much about it as possible. In this program we will look at the spacecraft and instruments we are currently using to study and predict how the Sun’s behavior is going to affect us. Presented by Gena Crook, VBAS Director of Education and Programs.

Lives of the Stars - Saturday, March 17 at 7:30 PM NASA Stellar Evolution

The stars visible in this time of year are some of the brightest stars in the sky. However, not all stars are created equal. Some are massive while others are tiny; almost insignificant. Some shine brightly, releasing tremendous amounts of energy, others barely shine at all. The specific characteristics of a star will determine what type of life it will lead, how long it might live and even the type of death it will die. Join us at the VBAS Planetarium as we discuss the amazing variety of stars and peer into their secret lives. Presented by Roy Young, veteran VBAS presenter.

Parker Solar Probe - Saturday, March 24 at 7:30 PM NASA Parker Solar Probe

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe will be the first-ever mission to "touch" the sun. The spacecraft, about the size of a small car, will travel directly into the sun's atmosphere about 4 million miles from our star's surface. Launch is slated for summer 2018. Come learn about this exciting new space probe presented by veteran VBAS presenter and NASA scientist, Mitzi Adams.

NASA EarthriseLooking Back at Earth from Space - Saturday, March 31 at 7:30 PM 

Our Resident Astronomer, Doug Horacek, plans to take you on a journey from the edge of the universe and move in towards the Earth form various distances in a lesson on perspectives.

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.


Monthly Society Meeting

The next VBAS Monthly Meeting is Friday, March 16 at 7:30 PM. Pizza at 7:00 PM.

Telescope presentation by AG Optical

Dave Tandy, owner of AG Optical, located in New Hope, Alabama, will present a program on the designs of the various telescopes AG Optical manufactures. One of their their telescopes will be on display and, if the weather permits, will be used during the Messier Marathon going on that evening out on the observing field.

Brief bio of Dave Tandy:

AG Optical Systems LLC is a veteran-owned business specializing in the design, development, and production of high-resolution imaging systems. Founded by Dave Tandy in 2010, AG Optical Systems has produced optical systems that are in use throughout the world by numerous institutional and individual customers.

Don Reed



Messier Marathon - March 16

Due to the forecast of rain and clouds, the March 16 (and March 17 backup) Messier Marathon has been CANCELED.

On Friday, March 16, our Resident Astronomer, Doug Horacek, has planned a Messier Marathon on the VBAS observing field. March 16 is also our monthly Society meeting. This a fun event with focus on trying to locate as many of the objects in Charles Messier's famous catalog of 110 deep sky objects. The Messier objects are among the brightest deep sky objects, so even with a meager telescope one has a decent chance of spotting many of the objects. This is also a great opportunity to get to look through many different telescopes. Set up of telescopes will start around 5:00 PM with observing to follow once it begins to get dark and then after the meeting.

The immediate backup day for clouds/rain is March 17.

If the weather is not good for either March 16 or 17 the backup dates are April 13 (primary) and April 14 (immediate backup if weather is not good on the primary).


New Books in the Library

Written by Administrator Sunday, 26 November 2017 20:49

Our Librarians, Jeff Bennett and Amanda Campbell have acquired some new books for the Library. Please click on the Library link in the menu above and check them out.


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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