VBAS Calendar

November 2015
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NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Monte Sano State Park


Von Braun Astronomical Society

Monthly Society Meeting

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

All are welcome to join us at the Monthly Society Meeting on Friday, November 20. There will be free pizza at 7 p.m. At 7:30 we will have a short meeting, and then Mrs. Gena Crook will tell us about the Night Sky Network.

The Night Sky Network is sponsored by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Their purpose is to enable amateur astronomy groups to engage the general public in learning about all things Astronomy. VBAS joined the Network in 2005.

The Night Sky Network sends VBAS free "tool kits" containing hands-on educational activities for use with people of all ages. The kits include video instructions on how to use the activities and all of the necessary props. Mrs. Crook uses these activities during her planetarium shows and for Astronomy Day. At this meeting Mrs. Crook will show VBAS members how to use the Night Sky Network kits.

Thank you,

Steve Patrick



November 2015 Planetarium Shows

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

Life in the Universe - Saturdays, November 7, & 21 at 7:30 PM

Are we alone in the universe? We do not know! But scientists are certainly investigating every promising angle for clues to the answer. Tonight we will learn what planetary environments might harbor life and what kind of evidence is necessary to convince us that life might be present on another world. This program was written by the Night Sky Network and will be presented by Gena Crook.

Galaxies - Saturday, November 14 at 7:30 PM

You are invited to a family friendly show called "Way Out There," a show about Galaxies. This presenter, Mrs. Brenda Rogers, always seems to need the help of the children in the audience! So bring the children for sure! While we have fun, learn what makes up a galaxy and what we can find within its boundaries. Learn about the types of galaxies and see some cool pictures. Please join us for this show and take a souvenir home which you will make!

Bring a friend!

Star of WonderStar of Wonder - Saturday, November 28 at 7:30 PM

What exactly was the star that the Wisemen saw? Was it a star that stood in the sky two-thousand years ago and marked a single location in Bethlehem? Each year at this special time, VBAS turns back the hands of time to look into the sky of long ago and search for this mysterious object. As we ponder the skies of Bethlehem, we’ll explore several possibilities including comets, meteors, novae and other phenomena as well as examine the origins of some of the Christmas traditions we celebrate today.

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

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 through 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


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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