Practical Astronomy Course

Learn the wonders of the night sky in a practical setting that involves both lecture and observing using your own telescope or binoculars.  Whether you’ve purchased a telescope and want help learning your way around the night sky, are thinking about getting a telescope and want to learn about available equipment and techniques, or just want to learn, this class will help you in your quest.  At the end of each lecture, students are provided a list of skill and season-appropriate targets to observe in the observing field after class and over the coming week.

Due to the pandemic, each student will be encouraged to observe with their own equipment, which can be a telescope, binoculars, or just your eyes.  No prior experience necessary.


Jeff Delmas, VBAS Observatory Director

Jeff Delmas holds degrees in mathematics and Civil Engineering. He moved to Huntsville in 1980 to work as a structural engineer on SpaceLab missions before joining Intergraph and spending the rest of his career in software development. Jeff is a lifelong amateur astronomer who got his first telescope at the age of 11 on the Christmas morning following the Apollo 8 orbit of the Moon. In the 1980’s he designed and constructed his own 10” telescope. Jeff’s emphasis in the class is to train budding amateur astronomers in the practical skills of navigating the skies and observing using small telescopes. Jeff joined VBAS in 1998 and has served as President as well as other board positions over the years. He is the current Director of Observatories at VBAS and regularly teaches math, computer science, and astronomy at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UAH.

Who Should Attend

The course is targeted to beginning observers, adults and teens, or those interested in a refresher course on basics.


  • Mondays from 9/27/21 through 11/15/21 at the VBAS Planetarium
  • Eight sessions in total
  • Price: $25 members, $30 nonmembers

Enrollment URL:



S21 Direct Drive – Part 17


What’s up in the Night Sky – October 2020

As we currently have suspended our public activities, including planetarium shows and outreach events we have put together a brief video tour of the September night sky for your enjoyment. We hope to be able to explore the universe with you in person soon but until then we will have to do so virtually.


June Virtual Member Meeting

The June monthly member meeting will by presented by Peggy Walker online at 7:30pm on June 19th!


Library Home Delivery

VBAS members! Our librarian, Jeff Bennett, is now offering Home Delivery of our VBAS library books!
Browse the VBAS Library’s online catalog
Then, email Jeff B. at with your requested books. Read below for details:
  • Must be a member in good standing. (Want to renew? Click Here. )
  • Each household may borrow up to 5 books for up to 90 days. Borrowers must be home to receive books. Jeff will coordinate delivery with you in advance.
  • Jeff will deliver and pick up on the first Saturday of the month, as long as stay at home orders are in place.
  • Jeff will wear a mask and be healthy (or, he won’t run the service).
  • Books will be in quarantine for one month between check outs.
  • Books will be in a plastic bag and only be handled by Jeff while wearing plastic gloves/mask.
  • Orders will be filled on a first-come, first served basis.

Weekly Planetarium Shows Cancelled

Updated June 2021.

Important Notice


Due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic we have had to suspend our regular weekly public planetarium shows. However, as vaccinations have increased and COVID-19 cases continue to decrease here in Madison County, we are tentatively looking at resuming Saturday night public planetarium shows beginning sometime after the Labor Day holiday in September 2021. At this time, we will only offer very limited seating to allow for social distancing and there will be also be a requirement to make a seat reservation ahead of time for the show you want to attend. Prepayment of admissions will not be an option and will be required to be paid in-person at the planetarium prior to admission. Please stay tuned for more details on this process and any special requirements.



April Virtual Monthly Meeting

While April’s monthly member meeting has been cancelled due to our current policy for in-person events, the guest presentation has moved online!

Join us an learn about “The Art of Solar Astrophotography Using Narrowband Imaging” with Joe Matus, a local NASA engineer who is sharing insights to the hardware, software, and process of photographing our nearest star.

The Art of Solar Astrophotography Using Narrowband Imaging (Final)


Night at the Observatory

VBAS is pleased to announce a new program that provides guests an opportunity to direct an observing session using the historic Swanson 21” telescope with a modern digital camera. Our Night At The Observatory is a personalized program that allows small groups to experience an evening of observing deep-sky objects of their choice. And the fun doesn’t end when the night is done because at the end of the evening you will take home the images acquired during your observing session. A VBAS certified operator will assist in target acquisition and imaging and can make suggestions for interesting deep-sky objects to discover.

Your Night At The Observatory requires no prior training or experience with telescopes. You will learn some of the fascinating history of the observatory and how to operate the large telescope. Contact Jeff Delmas, Observatory Director, to book your own Night At The Observatory. Click the link below for details and prices.

VBAS Night At The Observatory