VBAS Calendar

October 2014
28 29 30 1 2 3 4
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12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31 1

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Von Braun Astronomical Society

October 2014 Planetarium Shows

Written by Administrator

Our Public Planetarium Shows Begin at 7:30 PM

Harry Potter Astronomy - Saturdays, October 11, & 25 at 7:30 PM  

Learn about those magical astronomical names used in J.K. Rowling's stories about a boy wizard and his friends, along with other astronomy references within the book series. Presented by: Mitzi Adams and Melissa Snider

Mars Comet Encounter - Saturday, October 18 at 7:30 PM

MarsComet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring will miss Mars by only about 88,000 miles (139,500 kilometers) on October 19, 2014. That is less than half the distance between Earth and the Moon and less than one-tenth the distance of any known comet flyby of Earth. The comet's nucleus will come closest to Mars at about 1:27 p.m. CDT, hurtling at about 126,000 mph (56 kilometers per second), relative to Mars. Come learn about this interesting event and the opportunities and possible dangers it presents to the probes orbiting the red planet. Presented by: Brenda Rogers

See you there!

Admission for Saturday Night Programs:

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 our telescopes following the planetarium program with the help of our experienced and knowledgeable observing crew.

Telescopes will be open after the programs.  (Weather permitting) All programs are open to the public.


Monthly Society Meeting

Written by Jared Cassidy

The next VBAS Monthly Society Meeting will occur Friday, Nov. 21 at 7:30 PM. Pizza at 7:00 PM!

November's Program: "The Monster Gamma-Ray Burst of April 27, 2013"

Once in a great while, the universe offers up some of its secrets to those who are patient. The Fermi Gamma-Ray Burst Monitor (GBM) has been in orbit since June 11, 2008, observing nearly the entire sky at very high energies. GRB 130427A was a monster flash of gamma-ray radiation that exceeded all previous observed bursts by a large margin. I will offer an introduction to gamma-ray astronomy at UAH and NASA/MSFC and discuss some of the implications of this unique event.

Speaker Bio:

UAH Associate Professor Robert Preece received his B.A. in Math and Physics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1982, an M.Sc. in Physics from The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, and a Ph.D. in Astrophysics in 1990 from the Physics Department of the University of Maryland in College Park. He then moved to Huntsville, Alabama, and joined the BATSE gamma-ray astronomy team at Marshall Space Flight Center as an NRC postdoc. He has been a researcher at UAH since 1993 and is a co-investigator on the Burst Monitor on Fermi, NASA's highly successful high-energy gamma-ray observatory.

Jared Cassidy


A Brief VBAS History

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


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 that was ordered from a Berlin manufacturer. The observatory was a “hut” with a removable roof. It didn’t survive WWII but the telescope tube and wooden tripod stand did and are in the Deutsches Technikmuseum in Berlin today. 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



Youth and Adult Observing Night - Friday, November 7

Written by Administrator

On Friday evening November 7, 2014, there will be a Youth and Adult Observing Night at 7:30 P.M. CDT, a Planetarium Presentation entitled Soap Opera in the Sky will start the evening off. Both Youth and Adult observers are invited to bring their telescopes and observe afterward. We will have a view of the constellations for that evening in the Planetarium and outside the Planetarium (weather permitting). The Resident Astronomer Doug Horacek will present the program. Call Doug Horacek at 256-772-6788 for more information.


M51 The "Whirlpool" Galaxy

Written by Administrator

This is one of the latest images we have taken with the Sims SBIG camera. It is of M51, the Whirlpool Galaxy located in the constellation Canes Venatici, just off the last star in the tail of the Big Dipper. The image was taken on April 12, 2013 through our 6 inch Astrophysics StarFire apochromatic refractor on an Orion Atlas mount and was made by stacking multiple exposures taken through different filters in order to achieve the color image.  The smaller object (at the bottom of M51, in this picture) is its companion galaxy, NGC 5195. Jeff Delmas, Frank Schenck, Jared Cassidy, and Doug Horacek were the observing crew that acquired the image.

M51 Color image with 6 inch StarFire Refractor


First Light of the Richard Sims SBIG Camera

Written by Administrator Saturday, 23 June 2012 12:33

The night of June 22, 2012, brought "first light" to our new digital astronomical camera, which was made possible, thanks in part, from a donation by Terri Sims in memory of her husband Richard Sims.  Our new camera is a SBIG model STF-8300M, with St-i Autoguider/Planetary Camera, and FW8 Filter Wheel.  This is a monochrome camera, which uses filters and multiple images stacked together to achieve a color image, this allows all available pixels to be used for making the image and provides better resolution than single-shot color cameras.  M57 The Ring Nebula located in the constellation Lyra

Our plan is to use this on the Swanson 21 inch telescope and other society scopes to show the wonders of the universe to the public and make contributions in astronomical research.


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