April 14th – Messier Marathon

This event has concluded. Thanks to all who attended!

Bring your telescope and join us Friday after dark on April 14th for our 2023 “Messier Marathon” Star Party in the VBAS observing field in the Monte Sano State Park. The gate opens at 6:30pm, sundown is 7:18pm. The observing starts as soon as it’s dark and goes until the last telescope is standing! Seasoned observers will be on-hand to assist newer observers in setting up and using their telescopes.  The term “Messier Marathon” is used to describe an effort to observe all 110 deep sky Messier objects in one night.  This is possible during several times of the year, but all 110 objects are most accessible to viewers in the Spring months of March and April during or near new Moons.

But this is not a contest! The real goal is to hone your observing skills, log as many Messier objects you can, and enjoy the company of other like-minded amateur astronomers. It’s a great opportunity for newer observers to learn more about the night sky and to learn observing techniques from more experienced members. 

Saturday, April 15th is the rain date for the marathon.


2022 Telescope Buyer’s Guide

Choosing a first telescope for yourself or a loved one can be a daunting task.  There is literally no limit to the amount of money that can be spent on telescopes and related equipment.  Luckily, modern development of quality optics on simple, stable mounts and more recent advancements in low cost electronics and software means that the price of an entry level telescope can be quite affordable.

Each Fall, we update our Telescope Buyer’s Guide to help primarily first-time buyers seeking a telescope during the Holiday Season.  Here’s our 2022 update:


Practical Astronomy Course

Enrollment has closed for 2021 Practical Astronomy classes.

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:



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. See the file below for details and prices.