VBAS Calendar

March 2015
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NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Von Braun Astronomical Society

March 2015 Planetarium Shows

Our Public Planetarium Shows Begin at 7:30 PM

Dawn space probe at CeresDawn at Ceres - Saturdays, March 7, 21, & 28 at 7:30 PM

NASA has launched the Dawn space probe in 2007 to study the two most massive objects of the Asteroid belt: Vesta and Ceres. In late 2012 Dawn has successfully finished its 14 month survey of Vesta and started its journey towards the dwarf planet Ceres. It entered the orbit of Ceres on March 6th. The spacecraft has been sending some puzzling images of Ceres. Should its entire mission succeed, it will also be the first spacecraft to visit Ceres and to orbit two separate extraterrestrial bodies. Come learn about why scientists are interested in studying the dwarf planet Ceres and about the operation of the Dawn spacecraft. Presented by Naveen Vetcha, VBAS President. (Image Source: NASA/JPL)

Why does Easter keep moving? - Saturday, March 14 at 7:30 PM

Why does Easter fall on a different date each year? Find out the relationship between the Full Moon, the Vernal Equinox, and the date of Easter and how our calendar has changed over the years to reflect our better understanding of the Earth’s motion around the Sun.  Presented by Roy Young, VBAS Planetarium Director.

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 Administrator Sunday, 22 March 2015 00:00

The next VBAS Monthly Meeting will occur Friday, April 17 at 7:30 PM. Pizza at 7:00 PM

Jared Cassidy


Youth and Adult Observing Session - March 27

VBAS will host a Youth and Adult Observing Session on March 27 at 7:30 PM. Our Resident Astronomer, Doug Horacek, will present a planetarium program on "Orion and the Winter Sky" and following the program will lead an observing session for all those attending (weather permitting). This is a free event.


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 Session - May 8

VBAS will host a Youth and Adult Observing Session on May 8 at 7:30 PM. Our Resident Astronomer, Doug Horacek, will present a planetarium program on "Galaxies" and following the program will lead an observing session for all those attending (weather permitting). This is a free event.


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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