VBAS Calendar

October 2016
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NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Monte Sano State Park


Von Braun Astronomical Society

October 2016 Planetarium Shows

We Host a Public Planetarium Show Every Saturday that Begins at 7:30 PM

Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko/ESA- ROSETTAComets- Saturday, October 1

Learn about the icy interlopers that visit the inner solar system from time to time. Some comets are regular visitors and others only stop by once. Where do they originate? What kind of stuff makes up a comet? Find out what we have learned from the recent visit to a comet by Rosetta and Philae. Presented by Doreen Forsythe.



Uranus & Neptune/NASA Voyager 2Ice Giants: Uranus and Neptune- Saturday, October 8 at 7:30 PM

We do not hear much about these distant planets. In September VBAS will explore the history of their discovery and what we know about Uranus and Neptune. It will inspire you to want to know more, that's a fact!  Presented by Jared Cassidy, VBAS Past-President.



Fall Skies- Saturday, October 15 at 7:30 PM

Now that autumn is here with its longer and more comfortable evenings, we will look at the fall constellations. Presented by Tanner Harper.

Astronomy Day- Saturday, October 22

We will have presentations in the planetarium from 1:30 PM to 4:30 PM for Astronomy Day, followed by a special presentation by former NASA Astronaut Robert "Hoot" Gibson at 7:00 PM and 8:30 PM. For more information about our Astronomy Day activities, please click the Astronomy Day link in the menu on the left side of this page.

IC2118 The Witch Head Nebula/NASA

Spooky Skies- Saturday, October 29 at 7:30 PM

It is that time of the year when thoughts turn to eerie and spooky stuff.  Come out and enjoy this fun program on the spooky skies of fall. Presented by Beth Bero.


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

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 .


Dark Sky Viewing Event at French Camp, MS - Oct. 28-30

Written by Administrator Monday, 03 October 2016 19:01

VBAS at French Camp, MSFrench Camp at the Rainwater Observatory will be the last weekend in October before Halloween, Friday evening the 28, Saturday evening 29, leave Sunday Morning the 30. Be sure to get there Friday afternoon and evening not only to set up, but also to enjoy the Steak dinner on Friday evenings at the French Camp Restaurant. Costs are gas $60, Food $50-$60, overnight at the bunk house, $30 for two nights, and camping, $20 for two nights. Other more expensive lodging available for families. Cabins and a Bed and Breakfast are also available.

The dark sky viewing site is in French Camp, Mississippi. This location is one of the best dark sky sites in the southeast and has outstanding facilities: a 32” Tectron, a 20.5” Dobsonian, two Celestron C-14s, a 12” Meade, and two 6” Refractors, all available for our use. In addition, they have camping and kitchen facilities, classrooms, and a library. The drive is about five hours from Huntsville.

Call Doug Horacek at 256-772-6788 for more information.


Monthly Society Meeting

The next VBAS Monthly Meeting is on Friday, October 21. As the Astronomy Day is on October 22, we will be setting up for the Astronomy Day. We are looking for volunteers to help us in setting up. Please join us if you can.

Tom Burleson



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,



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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