VBAS Calendar

March 2017
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NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day

APOD
Astronomy Picture of the Day
APOD

Monte Sano State Park

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Von Braun Astronomical Society

March 2017 Planetarium Shows

Written by Administrator

We Host a Public Planetarium Show Every Saturday in the Wernher von Braun Planetarium that Begins at 7:30 PM

M42 The Orion Nebula/VBAS D.Reed, et.al.Messier Objects - Saturdays, March 4 & 25 at 7:30 PM

Charles Messier was a renowned comet hunter in the 18th century. Messier discovered many comets in his day, but today he is more famous for the objects that he catalogued that were not comets. In his search for comets, Messier listed descriptions and locations for several mysterious objects which were later discovered to be nebulae, star clusters, galaxies, and even a super nova remnant. Messier Objects may all be seen with a backyard telescope and some may be observed with binoculars or even the naked eye. Come out to the VBAS Planetarium Show at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday March 4 or March 25, and we’ll talk about Messier Objects and how to find them in the sky. Presented by VBAS President, Steve Patrick.

Are You Ready for the Great 2017 Eclipse? - Saturday, March 11 at 7:30 PM

Total Solar Eclipse/NASA

On August 21, 2017, there will be a solar eclipse visible across most of the continental United States. Schools in the past have kept students indoors to avoid the possibility of the them looking at the sun. VBAS wants to encourage the schools and the public to get out and experience this wonder.

The purpose of this presentation is to prepare everyone. Presented by one of VBAS' planetarium crew, Nick Uithoven, will answer the following questions:

How to safely view the eclipse? Why eclipses occur? Where will the shadow fall? What could the weather be like? What will the eclipse be like in Huntsville?

This presentation will not be a dry lecture format but will include audience participation in explaining many parts of the eclipse. Plus the presenter will share some fun ways to view the eclipse.

During this year, VBAS will be offering this presentation to local schools as a teacher workshop.

Chinese Silk Comet AtlasChinese Astronomy - Saturday, March 18 at 7:30 PM

Ms. Haley Rice is one of VBAS' young amateur astronomers. She has prepared a program for you on the ancient Chinese astronomers; their observation methods, their discoveries. You won't want to miss this one! Haley is destined to become a professional astronomer someday. Then you can say, "I knew Haley when..... "

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

If you have your own telescope, feel free to set it up after the show. If you need some assistance with setting up or operation your telescope, our ever helpful observing crew will try to help you  so that you can better enjoy the night sky.

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.

For information about our Planetarium shows, as well as special group scheduling, and pricing, please contact our Planetarium Director,  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or our Director of Education and Programs,  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

Messier Marathon #1 - Friday, March 24

Written by Administrator

Due to heavy clouds, the March 24 Messier Marathon has been CANCELED.

Stay tuned, we may come up with an alternate date.

Our Resident Astronomer, Doug Horacek, has planned a Messier Marathon on the VBAS observing field. This a fun event with focus on trying to locate as many of the objects in Charles Messier's famous catalog of 110 deep sky objects. The Messier objects are among the brightest deep sky objects, so even with a meager telescope one has a decent chance of spotting many of the objects. This is also a great opportunity to get to look through many different telescopes. Set up of telescopes will start around 5:00 PM with observing to follow once it begins to get dark.

Backup day for clouds/rain is April 28

On April 28 there will be a second Messier Marathon even if the weather is good for the March 24 event.

 

Tennessee Spring Star Party 2017 - May 26-28

Written by Administrator Wednesday, 22 March 2017 09:40

The Astronomy in the Parks Society, Cumberland Astronomical Society, Dyer Observatory and Fall Creek Falls State Park will be hosting the Tennessee Spring Star Party 2017 on May 26-28 at Fall Creek Falls State Park in Pikeville, Tennessee.

As in the past, TSSP 2017 is free to attend and registration is not required. All are welcome to attend and are responsible for their food and lodging. Fall Creek Falls is offering a star party package for those wishing to stay at the inn. Campsites are also available.

Call 1-800-250-8610 for reservations. Ask for the star party package for rooms at the inn.

There will be all night observing Friday and Saturday night on the observing field (observers are permitted to nap in their vehicles, but camping on the observing field is not permitted). There will be a hospitality/warming tent on the observing field with warm beverages and snacks provided.

There will be public viewing Friday and Saturday nights, 7:00-10:00pm

During the day on Saturday there will be free programs offered in the Cascade Room.

There will be vendors set up in the lobby at the inn as well as a swap table.

http://tn.gov/environment/parks/FallCreekFalls/

 

   

Monthly Society Meeting

The next VBAS Monthly Meeting is Friday, March 17 at 7:30 PM. Join us for pizza at 7:00 PM.

Th March meeting will be part 3 of 3 in a series about the search for exoplanets and possibly alien life forms. Parts 1 and 2 were about the telescopes and data analysis needed for characterizing exoplanets. Part 3 will be about the close in targets and getting there.

Exoplanets are popping up all over! Rocky planets about the size of Earth have been found around several "nearby" stars. The March meeting will be about the most recent discoveries at Proxima Centauri and Trapist-1 (aka 2MASS 23062928-0502285 or 2285 to friends) along with a webinar about the Star Shot project to reach the nearest star and planet with robotic space craft.

Tom Burleson, Jr.

Vice-President

 

Messier Marathon #2 - Friday, April 28

Written by Administrator

Our Resident Astronomer, Doug Horcek, has planned a Messier Marathon on the VBAS observing field. This a fun event with focus on trying to locate as many of the objects in Charles Messier's famous catalog of 110 deep sky objects. The Messier objects are among the brightest deep sky objects, so even with a meager telescope one has a decent chance of spotting many of the objects. This is also a great opportunity to get to look through many different telescopes. Set up of telescopes will start around 5:00 PM with observing to follow once it begins to get dark.

Backup day for clouds/rain is May 26.

   

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,

Past-President

   
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