VBAS Calendar

October 2014
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NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Von Braun Astronomical Society

October 2014 Planetarium Shows

Written by Administrator

Our Public Planetarium Shows Begin at 7:30 PM

Harry Potter Astronomy - Saturdays, October 11, & 25 at 7:30 PM  

Learn about those magical astronomical names used in J.K. Rowling's stories about a boy wizard and his friends, along with other astronomy references within the book series. Presented by: Mitzi Adams and Melissa Snider

Mars Comet Encounter - Saturday, October 18 at 7:30 PM

MarsComet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring will miss Mars by only about 88,000 miles (139,500 kilometers) on October 19, 2014. That is less than half the distance between Earth and the Moon and less than one-tenth the distance of any known comet flyby of Earth. The comet's nucleus will come closest to Mars at about 1:27 p.m. CDT, hurtling at about 126,000 mph (56 kilometers per second), relative to Mars. Come learn about this interesting event and the opportunities and possible dangers it presents to the probes orbiting the red planet. Presented by: Brenda Rogers

See you there!

Admission for Saturday Night Programs:

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.

Telescopes will be open after the programs.  (Weather permitting) All programs are open to the public.


Monthly Society Meeting

Written by Jared Cassidy

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

October's Program: "You Can Almost Touch the Stars" (a live webinar)

Even if you wanted to touch a star, they’re impossibly distant. Despite these great distances, researchers have learned a great deal about quite a few stars. How? The most common method to study the stars is called spectroscopy, which is the art and science of analyzing the colorful rainbow spectrum produced by a prism-like device.

This talk, with lots of interesting examples, will show you what it’s all about and help you understand how spectroscopy is used in research. And, it will show you how to get started.

Tom Field

Until recently, spectroscopy was too expensive and too complicated for all but a handful of amateurs. Today, though, new tools make spectroscopy accessible to almost all of us. You no longer need a PhD, dark skies, long exposures, enormous aperture … or a big budget! With your current telescope and FITS camera (or a simple web cam or even a DSLR without a telescope) you can now easily study the stars yourself. Wouldn’t you like to detect the atmosphere on Neptune or the red shift of a quasar right from your own backyard?

Speaker Bio: Tom Field of Field Tested Systems and is a Contributing Editor at Sky & Telescope. Tom’s article on spectroscopy appeared in the August 2011 issue. He’s the author of the RSpec software (www.rspec-astro.com) which received their “Hot Product 2012” award last year. Tom is a popular speaker who has spoken at many different venues, including NEAF, the NEAF Imaging Conference, PATS, the Winter Star Party, the Advanced Imaging Conference, SCAE, and others. His enthusiastic style is lively and engaging. He promises to open the door for you to this fascinating field!

Jared Cassidy


Partial Solar Eclipse Observing

Written by Administrator

VBAS is partnering with the U.S. Space & Rocket Center on October 23 (5:00 PM - 5:45 PM) for the observance of the Partial Solar Eclipse. Come out to the Davidson Center for Space Exploration to observe the solar eclipse through the telescopes surrounded in the company of astronomers describing the event as it takes place. These telescopes have filters and it is safe to look at the sun through them.

WARNING: Never look at the sun through your binoculars or telescopes without proper protection.


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 Night - Friday, November 7

Written by Administrator

On Friday evening November 7, 2014, there will be a Youth and Adult Observing Night at 7:30 P.M. CDT, a Planetarium Presentation entitled Soap Opera in the Sky will start the evening off. Both Youth and Adult observers are invited to bring their telescopes and observe afterward. We will have a view of the constellations for that evening in the Planetarium and outside the Planetarium (weather permitting). The Resident Astronomer Doug Horacek will present the program. Call Doug Horacek at 256-772-6788 for more information.


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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