VBAS Calendar

July 2015
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NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day

Astronomy Picture of the Day
  • Whats happening outside this cave? Whats happening outside this cave?

Monte Sano State Park


Von Braun Astronomical Society

July 2015 Planetarium Shows

Written by Administrator

Our Public Planetarium Shows Begin at 7:30 PM

Our Perception of the Universe- Saturdays, July 4, 11, & 25 at 7:30 PM

How has humanity changed its place in the universe? We will find out with a look at the people behind the theories and discoveries from when the Earth was believed to be the center of the universe all the way up until today. Presented by Cole Buford, VBAS Student Director.

Summer Stars - Saturday, July 18 at 7:30 PM

For most of human history, the night sky demanded our attention. The Milky Way, in particular, exerted a powerful presence on our distant ancestors. Today we know much about the Milky Way and our Sun’s place in it, but how did we acquire that knowledge?  Join us as we tour the stars of the summer sky and the Milky Way and learn of how man discovered the true nature of this swirling mass of stars, gas and dust. Presented by Roy Young, VBAS Planetarium Director.

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


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,



Monthly Society Meeting

Written by Administrator

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

Solar ProminenceJets and the Many Scales of Solar Phenomena

To explore the exciting and beautiful atmosphere of our closest star the Sun, Mitzi will share observations from the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) and the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) of the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which is currently orbiting Earth. SDO observes phenomena in the atmosphere of the Sun from the surface (photosphere) to the outermost layer (corona). Solar researchers would like to answer these questions (among others):

1. Why is the corona hotter than the photosphere? and

2. How is the corona heated?

Mitzi will review the problem and will discuss a possible mechanism: injection of heated plasma and/or magnetic waves into the corona via small jets.This talk is based on a poster presentation given at the American Geophysical Union meeting in December, 2014, co-authored by Dr. Alphonse Sterling and Dr. Ronald Moore.Please check back for the updates.

Mitzi Adams is a solar scientist for NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), where she studies the magnetic field of the Sun and how it affects the upper layer of the solar atmosphere, the corona.  Ms. Adams, a daughter of Atlanta, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in physics with a mathematics minor from Georgia State University.  In 1988, the University of Alabama in Huntsville and NASA made her an "offer she couldn't refuse" and she moved to Alabama, where she earned a Master of Science degree in physics and began work at NASA/MSFC.  With a professional interest in sunspot magnetic fields and coronal bright points, friends have labelled her a "solar dermatologist".

Frequently involved in educational outreach activities such as viewing solar eclipses and transits of Mercury and Venus, Ms. Adams sometimes seeks innovative material in unusual places.  While few women travel alone, she has often been seen alone and in groups in the wilds of Peru, northern Chile, Guatemala, and southern Italy.

Ms. Adams has been a member of the VBAS since 1988 and was Director of the Planetarium from 1991-2006.


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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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