VBAS Calendar

November 2014
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NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Von Braun Astronomical Society

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


November 2014 Planetarium Shows

Written by Administrator

Our Public Planetarium Shows Begin at 7:30 PM

Meteors- Saturday, November 15 at 7:30 PM

Falling stars? Bits of comets and asteroids? What are those wonderful little streaks of lights that race across the sky, sometimes sporadically and sometimes in spectacular "showers". Come learn about what meteors and meteor showers.  Presented by Dr. Bill Cooke, Lead at NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office

History of Space Flight - Saturday, November 22 at 7:30 PM Apollo 6 Separation

Discover the history of how space flight came to be, and about the people who made it all possible: Starting from the 1920's with founding fathers such as Goddard and Oberth all the way to the future space missions such as the Space Launch System (SLS). Along the way, the history of VBAS will also be covered, as its history is intertwined with space flight. Presented by Cole Buford, VBAS Student Director

Star of Wonder

The Christmas Star- Saturday, November 29 at 7:30 PM  

Is there a scientific answer about what the Christmas star was that we can uncover? Come hear what ancient scientific records reveal about it.

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.


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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