VBAS Calendar

January 2015
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NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Von Braun Astronomical Society

January 2015 Planetarium Shows

Our Public Planetarium Shows Begin at 7:30 PM

ESA's Rosetta and PhilaeRosetta at 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko - Saturdays, January 24 at 7:30 PM

Join us as we uncover the wonders of mysterious comets. The Rosetta Spacecraft has been orbiting the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko since September and in November its Philae lander landed on the comet, bounced twice and sent back data before its batteries died and it went into hibernation. Hopeful that the closer the comet gets to the sun the lander will wake up and gather more data, as the orbiter continues to send information back from the comet. Come find out what information is coming back from Rosetta during the planetarium programs in January. Presented by Doreen Forsythe

So you got a Telescope for Christmas?? - Saturday, January 17 at 7:30 PM

So, you got a telescope for Christmas! And now you need to figure out what to do next. Bring your telescope up to the Von Braun Astronomical Society on January 17 at 7:30 pm to learn what you can see through your scope and have members of the VBAS answer all your questions!  Presented by Frank Schenck

Space is Hard - US Manned Launch Failures - Saturday, January 31 at 7:30 PM Challenger Explosion 1986 - NASA Photo

Space is Hard: Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia, the last week of January marks a somber time for NASA, with the anniversaries of three U.S. manned spaceflight disasters. Join us at the Von Braun Astronomical Society's planetarium  at 7:30 pm as we recall the memories of those astronauts and space farers from other countries who made the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of space exploration. Presented by Roy Young

See you there!

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


Monthly Society Meeting

Written by Jared Cassidy

The next VBAS Monthly Society Meeting will occur Friday, February 20 at 7:30 PM. Pizza at 7:00 PM

Stay tuned for the updates!

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



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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