VBAS Calendar

January 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

Monthly Society Meeting

The next VBAS Monthly Meeting is Friday, January 20 at 7:30 PM. Join us for pizza at 7:00 PM.

The Monthly meeting for January will feature a webinar hosted by the Planets Foundation. This foundation is aimed at the search for life on exoplanets.

Their home webpage is https://www.planets.life. They have a long term plan for building large scale observation instruments with information about the technologies at https://www.planets.life/our-technology/

Several excerpts from the website are included here:

The PLANETS Foundation wants to excite, educate and engage you in a direct optical search for life outside of the solar system. We invite you to participate in our program that culminates with an exolife "census" of the nearest 100 exoplanets. Learn more now, by joining us in weekly online conversations with the scientists and engineers who are talking about the latest exoplanet news, and technologies that will see the exolife ecology within 30 light years of the Earth. Also, browse our on-line collection of talks, papers, and images.

The PLANETS organization was started by a small international group of academic scientists. It now includes members from Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, and the US - and we're halfway built, and $2.5M spent toward the PLANETS telescope. In 24 months this will be the first demonstration instrument on a path to the ExoLife Finder (ELF), and the Colossus Telescopes - optical instruments powerful enough to reveal continents on Proxima B, and finally, the heat signatures of advanced life on several hundred exoplanets. The PLANETS Foundation was formed this year with the mission of advocating and accelerating exolife studies while engaging public members and any interested citizen scientists.

Tom Burleson

Vice-President

 

January 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

Dr. Walter McAfeeBlack Astronomers - Saturdays, January 7 & 28 at 7:30 PM

Join us for this look at the many African-Americans who have made great advancements in the science of Astronomy. Presented by Gena Crook, VBAS Director of Education and Programs.

Are You Ready for the Great 2017 Eclipse? - Saturday, January 14 at 7:30 PM

Total Solar Eclipse/NASA

In a little more than one year 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. One of VBAS' educators, James Brelsford, 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 Mr. Brelsford 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.

So, You Got a Telescope for Christmas? - Saturday, January 21 at 7:30 PM

So, you got a telescope for Christmas and want to know how it works and what you can see with it? Tom Burleson, VBAS Vice-President, will answer these and many other questions about telescopes in his presentation.

 

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 .

 

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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