Rittenhouse Astronomical Society
Meeting Schedule 2006 / 2007


DATE Astronomy
September 13,
~Start in October
Members Night Presentations:
1- Sky Tonight
2- Astronomy Courses
3- Space Command
4- Stonehenge and Beyond
5- Spinning

Society Members:
1- Alan Daroff
2- Ruth List
3- Mike Mountjoy
4- Peg Labosh
5- Ted Williams
October 11,
Circumpolar Stars
How to locate them
Why they appear circumpolar?
Refurbishing the Bloom Observatory Derrick Pitts
Franklin Institute
Chris Ray
Antique Telescope Society
November 8,

The Ecliptic Plane
Zodiac Constellations
Transit, Eclipse, Occultation
What's the difference?

Mercury Transit: Afternoon thru Sunset- Rooftop Observatory.
Purchasing a telescope?

Early enough to shop or have delivered for the Holidays.
Society Members:
Alan Daroff
Ted Williams
Dave Walker
December 13,
Celestial Motions
Daily, Annual, Planetary,
Precession, Proper
Earth to the Moon and Back
in 2.6 Seconds

Tic Toc Tic Toc David
Alan Daroff
Rittenhouse Astronomical Society V.P.
January 10,

 marking the Galactic Plane
From Earth to the Moon(s)
Dr. Chris Sommer
Bucks ~ Mont. Astronomical Society
March 14,
Web Project
Categorize the Universe
The Universe in 3-D Dr. Albert Lamperti
3-D Anaglyph
April 11,
An Inconvenient Truth
Recent Findings offer More Support
Mars, Saturn, Comets and Beyond in 3-D Dr. Ken Kremer
NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador

May 9,

God, Astronomy and the Search for Elegance
Brother Guy Consolmagno
Vatican Astronomer
Curator of Vatican Meteorite Collection
June 13,

Operating a Planisphere
We will supply you with a  planisphere and teach how to use it.

Inspired by the Worlds Leading Telescopes


Louis Berman
Delaware Valley Amateur Astronomers



 Rittenhouse Record  2007 / 2006

Special Event 6/06/07

Winston E. Scott   Former NASA Astronaut

Special Lecture & Book Signing:  Winston E. Scott (former NASA Astronaut) will be speaking October 5th 7:00-8:00 PM in celebration of World Space Week at The Franklin Institute.  This will be followed by a signing of his book "Reflections from Earth Orbit".   The meeting is free, but registration is required to help us prepare proper seating please RSVP:  215-448-1231 to notify TFI you will be attending.  Mention that you are a Rittenhouse Member. 

     Captain Scott, a trained naval aviator and officer, received his Master of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in 1980. After completing jet training, he served a tour of duty with Fighter Squadron Eighty Four at the Naval Air Station (NAS) in Oceana, Virginia. In 1986, he was designated as an Aerospace Engineering Duty Officer and served as a production test pilot at the Naval Aviation Depot, NAS in Jacksonville, Florida.
     Scott was selected by NASA in March 1992, and reported to the Johnson Space Center in August 1992. He served as a mission specialist on STS-72 in 1996 and STS-87 in 1997, and has logged a total of 24 days, 14 hours and 34 minutes in space, including 3 spacewalks totaling 19 hours and 26 minutes.

Dr. Dennis Wint, President & CEO of The Franklin Institute and Dr. Milton Freidman will deliver opening introductions.


Meeting Night 6/13/07

Louis Berman:  Inspired by the Worlds Leading Telescopes

To paraphrase “Unusual Telescopes” author Peter L. Manly, “The important parts of a telescope are a few grams of reflective aluminum; everything else is simply mechanics!"  If telescopes merely exist to gather light then he is surely correct.  My contention, however, is that they also exist to inspire and astound.  And for me at least the mechanics are totally fascinating.  Indeed, I’ve had a lifelong love-affair with telescopes and observatories.  In the last four months alone I’ve toured more than a dozen including the US Naval Observatory in Washington, DC, Palomar Observatory on Mount Palomar, Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, WI, and the huge Gemini, Subaru and Keck telescopes on Mauna Kea, HI.  My ongoing plan is to visit every notable telescope / observatory extant and to document my travails with a book (titled ScopeSeeing) to be published late 2008.


The point of my presentation is that you can do this too!  I will examine the process from selecting an observatory to negotiating for private access and observing time to wrangling your colleagues; everything you need to organize a successful trip of your own. I'll also show a couple of travelogues from my own trips to get you stoked!

Louis Berman



Meeting Night 5/9/07

Special Event Brother Guy Consolmango



Meeting Night 4/11/07

Dr. Ken Kremer: Mars Saturn Comets and Beyond in 3-D


Meeting Night 3/14/07

Dr. Al Lamperti  The Univese in 3-D

Meeting Night 1/10/07

Dr. Chris Sommer introduced us to "Rambo Viruses" that may survive the extreme conditions of space.  His talk centered on the structures that certain viruses and bacteria have developed for survival of extreme conditions here on earth.  He then linked the conditions found on Earth to similar conditions we have found on various moons of our solar system. 
Providing evidence of past impacts, and how pieces of Earth's crust have been ejected into space was discussed as a method as to how viable microorganisms may have been transported to other celestial bodies. 

A color enhanced micrograph of the red-pigmented D. radiodurans cell, highlighting the ring-like morphology of the cell genome.
Courtesy S. Levin-Zaidman

An interesting idea proposed during his talk asked us to consider that the first alien life we may discover, could be life that originated on Earth itself.

Meeting Night 12/10/06


Alan Daroff was in top form with our guest lecture as he guided society members back into the past to appreciate the work of David Rittenhouse.  The Rittenhouse Clock, on display at Drexel University, was the focus of the evening presentation.  He informed the audience about the exquisite detail and craftsmanship that is exhibited in this piece of Rittenhouse's work.   Together with an array of pictures provided by fellow society member Drew Maser, the talk was informative and quite interesting.

Alan topped of the evening presentation with a talk on the Retro-reflectors placed on the moons surface.  Coupling the presentation with a laser demonstration involving cubic corner reflectors helped the audience understand the precision of these tools (still in use today) for measuring the exact distance to the moon.



Meeting Night 11/8/06

Members have requested a telescope night in time for that holiday gift purchase, and society officers stepped up to the challenge.  Dave Walker reviewed various beginner telescopes and helped the audience to understand what to look for when purchasing binoculars for viewing the night sky.  Dave covered the basic nomenclature for the various styles of telescopes and utilized a reflector, and refractor that were set up in the planetarium for a hands on look. 

Alan Daroff continued the evening talk with an orientation to the function of lenses and what view they afford.  He also compared the various light paths that different telescopes utilize to bring us those fantastic views.  Alan had lenses on hand and materials from various telescope manufacturers to aid in ones purchase.

Members hung around after the meeting to answer personal questions from members and visitors in attendance who are thinking of buying or upgrading their telescopes.


Meeting Night 10/11/06

This year will be a memorable one for our society with the refurbishment of the rooftop observatory at the Franklin Institute.   Derrick Pitts, Chris Ray and  Dr. Fred Orthlieb were on hand to share their first hand experience and pictures of  the renovation involved with the Zeis Refractor telescope.  The scope is truly one of a kind, and now that is is refurbished, we expect the use of this fine instrument will be extended for another 70 years.

Dr. Fred Orthlieb conducts some final adjustments

Although observation was not possible due to the cloud cover and rain, that did not stop interested members from touring the observatory and watching demonstrations of the new equipment, the drive and tracking features, and the computer assisted command utilized to aid in proper tracking for the scope.


Hats off to Derrick and the crew at the Franklin Institute and special thanks to the Antique Telescope Society for completing such fine work ensuring a front seat view for future visitors to the museum.  The Joel N. Bloom observatory is open to the public daily for sun spotting, for viewing celestial events, and is planning public observing nights in addition to our meetings nights throughout the year.


Meeting Night 9/13/06

What a great way to start our fall meetings!  Hearing from society members and their astronomical interests is a good way to build a community of people with common interests. 

Alan Daroff provided us with some upcoming sky events to watch for and also tantalized us with some out of this world trivia.  Alan was quite surprised when Peg Labosh correctly answered some of the questions with her knowledge of Star Trek trivia, and William Herschel facts!

Ruth List continued our evening agenda sharing her experience of taking a recent correspondence course in astronomy.  She explained how some are available for undergraduate credits, graduate credits and she also talked of some non-credit astronomy interest courses.

Mike Mountjoy enlightened us as to the work involved when Space Command was constructed.  Mike works with the Franklin Institute and his pictures of the construction process gave us all an inside view of what is required to make the magic happen!

Peg Labosh took center stage with her presentation on the Mysteries of Stonehenge and other astronomical sites of interest from around the globe.  Ted Williams finished the evening with a proposal and presentation on Spinning in the planetarium.  He also explained the new Apprentice Program geared to student visitors and how they can obtain a student membership.

Last Updated 9-11-08

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