Mercury must be retrograde. Mars is at opposition. There’s a conjunction of Jupiter and the Moon.
Phrases like these are often found in popular media and are used by astronomers to describe the relative positions of things in the sky. But what do those terms mean? We can use our star projector to help us see how the view from Earth is a little more complex than the view from space.
Presented by Alex Hall.
The Golden Record
Saturday, October 15, 7:30pm
We will be discussing the Voyager mission, and reviewing the contents and inscriptions on the Golden Record.
What was that light in the sky? Was it dangerous? A portent of evil? Come celebrate dark and spooky events in the sky with amateur astronomer Beth Bero at the planetarium. This program is NOT scary, so it is safe to bring the younger members of the family.
Autumn is a wonderful time to relax under the night sky. Ms. Delisa Collette will inspire you to do just that. Constellations and other beautiful objects are awaiting your discovery. As an added bonus, Saturn will be an awesome spectacle in our society telescopes after the show on clear nights.
All About Stars
Saturday, September 10, 7:30pm
Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are? In this presentation, we’ll take a look at stars – big ones, small ones, explosive ones, sputtering ones, brand new ones, ancient ones, and ones that are long dead.
Presented by Alexandra Hall
The Planetarium: A Magic Carpet
Saturday, September 24, 7:30pm
We can use the star projector in the planetarium to pretend to fly anywhere on Earth – like a magic carpet! Gena Crook will demonstrate the motion of the stars across the sky at the equator, the north pole, and the southern hemisphere. We will also watch how the sun changes positions at these locations. You may be surprised if you haven’t actually been to the equator or the north pole in person! This program will put the star projector to work and allow us to see its unique educational capabilities.
Instructor: Jeff Delmas, VBAS Observatory Director
Who Should Attend: The course is targeted to beginning observers, adults and teens, or those interested in a refresher course in basics observational astronomy.
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 field and over the following week.
Updated for 2022! This year’s course has been modified to have more time in the observing field and less in lecture. In addition, we’ll start directly with learning the night sky, and telescope designs before later covering history and theory.
Tuesdays, 9/27/22 through 11/15/22, 7:00pm – 8:30pm
Eight sessions in total:
Session 1: Navigating the Sky and Telescope Designs
Session 2: Observing Progression
Session 3: Charles Messier and His Catalog
Session 4: References, Programs, and Apps to Guide Observing
Session 5: Astronomy History & Basic Concepts
Session 6: Modern Astrophotography
Session 7: Radio Astronomy
Session 8: Cosmology
Price: $25 members, $30 nonmembers
Each student must provide an email address so the instructor can provide course materials.
Great Observatories of the World: Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA)
Saturdays, August 6 and 20 7:30 pm
Truly great observatories are designed and built to see things never possible before. You probably have never heard of ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, but it is making amazing discoveries nearly every day. ALMA looks at light we can’t see with our eyes, light in between the infrared spectrum and radio waves. This millimeter and submillimeter light from space has never been explored at the level ALMA is delivering. As a great observatory, ALMA is challenging scientists to ask new and better questions about the origins of galaxies, stars, and planets, but is also showing the incredible power and beauty of the universe around us. This show will explain how ALMA works and take you on a whirlwind tour of stellar nurseries, protoplanetary disks, and other mind-blowing discoveries made by ALMA.
Presented by Eric Silkowski
NASA’s Artemis Program
Saturday, August 13 at 7:30pm
Through the Artemis Program NASA aims to send first woman and next man to the Moon and achieve sustainable human presence on the Moon and Beyond. A series of Space Launch System (SLS) missions will enable reaching this goal. NASA has set the launch date for the first SLS launch to be August 29th. Rocket City played a very important role in reaching this milestone. Join us to learn about the Artemis program and celebrate this important milestone.
Von Braun Astronomical Society will celebrate Astronomy Day on October 22nd in person at MonteSano State Park! Beginning at 1:00 p.m., events will include: solar viewing, mini-planetarium shows, rockets, vacuum-chamber demonstrations of what it’s like in space, and several other fun STEAM activities.
2 pm: James Webb Space Telescope by Dr. Naveen Vetcha
3 pm: Asteroids by Dr. Eric Silkowski
4 pm: Swanson Telescope Upgrade Project by Jeff Delmas
At 7:00 p.m. VBAS will host special guest Ms. Alice Bowman, the Operations Manager for the New Horizons mission to Pluto and beyond.
VBAS Thanks AIAA Greater Huntsville Section for arranging the guest speaker for this year’s Astronomy Day.
Overview: Alice Bowman, the New Horizons Mission Operations Manager (MOM) will talk about the voyage of NASA’s historic mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt– which culminated with the first flight past the distant dwarf planet on July 14, 2015 and the first encounter with a Kuiper Belt object (KBO) on January 1, 2019. She’ll speak about this continuing journey through the eyes of the APL mission operations team and describe some of the technical, scientific, and personal challenges of piloting the New Horizons spacecraft across the solar system on its voyage to the farthest reaches of the planetary frontier.
Alice Bowman is a member of the Principal Professional Staff at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland. She is the Space Mission Operations Group supervisor and the NASA New Horizons Mission Operations Manager (MOM). She supervises approximately 50 staff members who operate deep space and Earth-orbiting spacecraft, including NASA’s TIMED, STEREO, New Horizons, and Parker Solar Probe. As the New Horizons MOM, Alice leads the team that controls the spacecraft that made a historic flyby of the Pluto system in July 2015. And on New Year’s 2019, just after midnight, New Horizons made history again with a flight past the Kuiper Belt object Arrokoth – the most distant flyby ever conducted, 4 billion miles from Earth. Prior to operating spacecraft, she worked in the fields of computer modeling, drug research and long-wave detector research.
Alice has a degree in chemistry and physics from the University of Virginia and has more than 30 years of experience in space operations. She is an associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and has served on the International SpaceOps Committee since 2009.
What are black holes? How are they formed? Will our sun ever become one?
Please come to our July 2nd family centered show for answers to these questions and more.
Presented by Brenda Rogers
James Webb Space Telescope
Saturday July 9 & 23 at 7:30pm:
On Dec 25th 2021, NASA (in collaboration with European Space Agency and Canadian Space Agency) created history by successfully launching the world’s largest and most complex space science observatory, The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). On its journey to the Sun-Earth L2 point (which is a million miles away from the Earth), JWST went through a series of complex deployments to fully unfurl as a telescope. Over the last few months, The Webb team carefully aligned the mirrors and took test images to make sure that the Telescope is ready for the first science images. NASA plans to release the first science image on July 12th. Join us to learn about this exciting journey of the telescope.
Presented by Dr. Naveen Vetcha
Saturday July 16 at 7:30pm:
What is a meteor? Where do they come from? Why do we see them? What popular meteor shower is coming in August?
Please come to our July 16th family centered show for answers to these questions and more.
Presented by Brenda Rogers
Vacation in the Stars
Saturday July 30th, 7:30pm
Summer is vacation time! Join VBAS presenter Beth Bero for a ‘Vacation in the Stars.’ We will explore all our space-related vacay destinations and learn the star lore of people from around the world who have looked up at the night sky and imagined adventures there.
VBAS will host an equipment sale and silent auction on Friday, May 20th, 2022 at 7:00pm. That date is also our regular monthly meeting and, in fact, our Annual Meeting at which we’ll elect new officers. Pizza will be served.
Some of the items up for auction include a Meade 10″ LX200, Celestron SP-C 102, 1000mm fl refractor, and an Intes 63MK Telescope (6” Maksutov). Sale items include eyepieces, adapters, diagonals, filters, small refractors, and more!
On this Mother’s Day eve, join us for a presentation to learn a little global Mother’s Day history and then hear some stories about a few celestial moms while we explore our planetarium night sky.
Presented by Alex Hall
May 14th, 7:30pm
On Sunday night beginning at about 8:30 pm we will be treated to a total LUNAR eclipse. The eclipse ends slightly before 2:00 am on Monday morning. Tonight at VBAS we will talk about why and when lunar eclipses happen. Watching a lunar eclipse is always more enjoyable if you understand what is happening! We will also talk about the upcoming total SOLAR eclipse in 2024. It might be time to start making your plans for that incredible event.
May 21st & 28th, 7:30pm
3D Printing in Space
Join us for a tour of 3D printing processes and learn how they are being used in space exploration.
Crisscrossing the continental United States in October 2023 and April 2024, two solar eclipses will take place, one annular the other total. To prepare for these two eclipses, the American Astronomical Society has been holding a series of eclipse workshops; the most recent of these workshops took place on April 8 and 9. For our April 15, 2022 monthly meeting (at 7pm), we will discuss The Sun and Eclipses, review the AAS workshop discussions, and reminisce about the 2017 total-solar eclipse.
VBAS is planning an observing event for the evening of Friday, April 1st. The first part of the evening is a “Bear Hunt”, which is an attempt to find many of the deep sky objects (DSOs) in the constellation Ursa Major, the “Big Bear” and in nearby Canes Venatici, the “Hunting Dogs”. Designed for new and experienced observers, we’ll have observing guides and fun games and certificates for finding some key objects.
The evening is also the ideal time of the year for a Messier Marathon. You’re welcome to stay as long as you want in the added effort to hunt down as many of the Messier objects as you can find in our annual Messier Marathon.
Bring your scopes and join the fun! Setup starts at 6:30pm.
Our planetarium show and star party today, December 9th, is cancelled due to weather.