VBAS Calendar

May 2018
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NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Monte Sano State Park


VBAS Sponsors


Von Braun Astronomical Society

May 2018 Planetarium Shows

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

VenusA Beauty Unveiled: The Scientific Exploration of Venus - Saturday, May 5 at 7:30 PM

The beautiful planet Venus has shone brilliantly in our morning and evening skies since ancient times, yet Venus has been reluctant to give up her secrets. Even with the advent of telescopes, thick clouds continued to shroud Venus in mystery. Come and learn about the amazing story of the scientific exploration of Venus--from the very first telescopes to the incredibly sophisticated spacecraft in orbit around Venus today. Along the way you may discover why it’s more important than ever to understand “Earth’s Twin Sister,” Venus. Presented by Eric Silkowski, VBAS Treasurer.

Comet Sample Return Missions - Saturday, May 12 at 7:30 PM

Since ancient times, humans have dreamed of reaching out to the stars. How many of our ancestors imagined that we would be able to reach up and bring a piece of the heavens down to earth? Come out to VBAS as we talk about space missions designed to bring samples of the heavenly bodies back to earth. Presented by Steve Patrick, VBAS Past President.

StonehengeThe Human Experience of the Sky - Saturdays, May 19 & 26 at 7:30 PM 

We live in a global community that many view as a product of modern communications technology, but challenge yourself to look beyond today's headlines. Come on a journey spanning thousands of years and linking ancient cultures across the planet to see how people have been profoundly connected by the wonders of the night sky dating back to the earliest civilizations. Presented by Laura Moss.

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 .


Monthly Society Meeting

The next VBAS Monthly Meeting is Friday, May 18 at 7:30 PM.

Join us for our next meeting on May 18 at 7:30 PM, pizza at 7:00 PM. The May meeting is our annual meeting and a new Vice President will be elected along with several Board Members with expiring terms. This month's program is on Variable Star Photometry presented by Gary Huffman.

Title: An Introduction to DSLR Variable Star Photometry

Description: An Introduction to DSLR Variable Star Photometry describes the process of using a DSLR camera for measuring the magnitude of variable stars. The talk will describe the resources available through the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO), what equipment is needed, available software, image acquisition, image processing, calibration frames, variable star estimates and how to report the results to the AAVSO. This discussion will cover the basic procedures and provide information necessary to get started.

Bio: Started fifty years ago as an amateur astronomer using a Tasco 60mm refractor, about eight years later purchased the parts and assembled an eight inch Newtonian reflector, then graduated to currently using an 8” SCT. While in college I learned about photoelectric photometry but never pursued it due to the cost and complexity of the equipment. That interest was renewed a few years ago after reading a Sky and Telescope article about the Citizen Sky project which used DSLRs. So I thought why not give it a try since I already have a telescope, a camera and best of all I did not need to purchase those costly filters. After further research I attempted photometry but soon found out that the time available was not there. Since recently retiring that time became available. So I joined the AAVSO and about six months later a mentor was appointed who taught the whole process which lead to submitting data for two variables. A short time later, last December, I took the online AAVSO DSLR Photometry course. Although I am a novice, my hopes are that I will provide enough info to spark the interest of others.

Don Reed



New Books in the Library

Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 May 2018 21:58 Written by Administrator Sunday, 26 November 2017 20:49

Our Librarians, Jeff Bennett and Amanda Campbell have acquired some new books for the Library. Please click on the Library link in the menu above and check them out.


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,


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