VBAS Calendar

July 2014
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NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Von Braun Astronomical Society

July 2014 Planetarium Shows

Written by Administrator

Our Public Planetarium Shows Begin at 7:30 PM

Black Holes - Saturdays, July 5, 12, & 26 at 7:30 PM  

What are black holes and how do they form? Find out at VBAS in the month of July. Presented by: Brenda Rogers

Gravity - Saturday, July 19 at 7:30 PM

Learn about this invisible force that keeps us from floating off into space. Presented by: Andy Wilson

See you there!

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

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.


Monthly Society Meeting

Written by Naveen Vetcha

The next VBAS Monthly Society Meeting will occur Friday, July 18 at 7:30 PM. Pizza at 7:00 PM!

Topic: Dark Matter Basics

This talk will cover the basic evidence for dark matter, and its role in galaxian and cosmological evolution. It will also touch on the possible nature of dark matter.

Speaker Bio

Prof. Wesley N. Colley was an avid amateur astronomer as a child and teenager, spending many nights outside with his C8. He studied astronomy and physics at the University of Virginia, before receiving a Ph.D. in astrophysical sciences at Princeton University, where he focused on gravitational lensing and cosmology. He did his post-doctoral work at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and lectured in astronomy back at UVa. Colley entered the field of modeling and simulation in 2004 and has worked at M.I.T. Lincoln Laboratory and Old Dominion University. He is currently a principal research scientist at UAH's Center for Modeling, Simulation and Analysis, where he works on a wide array of modeling & simulation topics.

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Talk by Acclaimed Astrophysicist Dr. Neil Gehrels

Written by Naveen Vetcha

Von Braun Astronomical Society in collaboration with The US Space and Rocket center, UAH, and Marshall Space Flight Center presnets acclaimed Astrophysicist, Dr. Neil Gehrels of JPL. This Pass the Torch Lecture, "Collapsing Matter, Black Holes, and Gamma-Ray Bursts" will take place on September 11 at 5 p.m. in the theater of the Space and Rocket Center's Davidson Center for Space Exploration. A reception will follow. Please stay tuned for updates!


March is Membership Renewal Month

It is now July and membership dues are past due! Please send in your dues if you have not already done so.

It is March and that means it is time for VBAS members to renew their Society dues. The renewal rates are:

  • Regular: $24
  • Family: $36
  • Student: $12
  • Life: $500

Please print out an application/renewal form along with your check, and send it to our mailing address:

Von Braun Astronomical Society

Attention: Membership Secretary
P.O. Box 1142
Huntsville, AL  35807

Dues may be be paid in person at our monthly Society meeting (preferred) or at a planetarium show by cash, check, or credit card.  We hope to soon accept credit card payments via the website, but until then we can only accept them at the planetarium.

Please send in your dues payment by the end of March to ensure you remain a member of the Society, as well as continue receiving the Astronomical League's quarterly magazine, The Reflector.


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


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



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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