Rittenhouse Astronomical Society
Meeting Schedule 2008 / 2009

DATE Astronomy

September 10,
Light Properties
Virtual Voyage Begins
Don Knapp
Centennial School District

StarQuest: A beginners
Guide to Digital


Timothy E. Kent
Baltimore County Public Schools- Starlab Educator &

October 8,
All presentations tonight can be considered Astronomy Lessons
Members are invited to participate and share astronomical experiences
or basic concepts

Members Night Presentations:
1- IYA, Plans to Participate
2- Star Cruising
3- RAS Heritage project
4- Navajo Cosmology
5- Space Travel
Rittenhouse Members
1- Ted Williams
2- Dan Benedict
3- Ruth List
4- Ivin Williams
5- Dave Walker
November 12,
Virtual Voyage
 through the Solar System
Navigating Across
The Solar System
Andrew K. Johnston
Geographer Smithsonian Institute
National Air and Space Museum
Dr. Ken Kremer

Highlights of the
Mars Rovers in 3-D
December 10,
Holiday Items/
What to Look
(or look out) for!

 Milt Friedman
Alan Daroff
"Daring Flight of the Phoenix Mars Lander in 3-D" Dr. Ken Kremer
NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador,
The Planetary Society

January 14,
Virtual Voyage around the Local Group "GLAST: Exploring the Extreme Universe" 
Dr. Dave Thompson
GLAST Deputy Proj. Scientist
NASA Goddard
Spaceflight Center

February 11, 2009
Joining our virtual on-line Members site
Dan McCormick
Student WebMaster
Where in the Universe?

Renovation of Franklin Hall

Mars Mission Update

Ben Franklin Forever
Multi Media Display
Ted Williams
RAS Secretary
Mike Mountjoy
RAS Member-at-Large
Dr. Ken Kremer
NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador
~Convene in
Franklin Memorial
March 11,
Navajo Cosmology
Ivin Williams 
Discoveries at Pluto and the Space Shuttle Upgrade Mission
Dr. Max Mutchler
Research and Instrument Scientist
Space Telescope Science Institute
April 8,
Navigational Stars
Ted Williams

"This Art of Arts": 
 A Voyage to Virginia in 1611

Dr. Robert Hicks
Historian/ Mutter Museum
May 13,

Rittenhouse Heritage Project
Ruth List
Viewing the Sky through
"Non-Western Eyes"
Steven Berr
Delaware Valley
Amateur Astronomers
June 10,
Gods of the Solar System
Mythology of the Planets
Ted Williams
Gustav Holst: The Planets Ed McCaffrey
Methacton School Dist.
Lori Weidner
Neshaminy School Dist.


 Rittenhouse Record  2009 / 2008

Meeting Night 6/10/09 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Many were quite interested in the Holst presentation that Lori Weidner (Neshaminy School District) and Ed McCaffrey (Methacton School District) shared with our friends and guests at our June 10th Meeting.  The music engulfed us as Ed and Lori guided us to fully appreciate the artistry entailed to make music so emotive.   We thank Ed and Lori for narrating our final voyage for this academic year around the solar system!  Comments about the visuals of the planets truly looking three dimensional suspended in the Fels universe were expressed by many!

(Left to right) Mike Mountjoy: Member at Large, Ed McCaffrey: Guest Presenter-June 10 / Member,
Alan Daroff: Vice President, Lori Weidner: guest Presenter - June 10, Milt Friedman: President, Ted Williams: Secretary

Meeting Night 5/13/09 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Steven Berr
Delaware Valley Amateur Astronomers

" A Multi-Cultural Interpretation of the Night Sky"

I would like to have a different kind of star show.  One that looks at
various parts of the night sky and explains how different cultures
throughout the world see them.  These could be African, Hawaiian, Mayan,
Japanese, Chinese, Jewish.  How these cultures developed calendars, creation
stories, and used the stars for navigation.  How they saw themselves in
their universe. 


Meeting Night 4/10/09 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We extend a warm welcome to Dr. Robert Hicks
Director, Mütter Museum/Historical Medical Library
College of Physicians of Philadelphia

“This Art of Arts”: 
A Voyage to Virginia in 1611

The International Year of Astronomy will highlight Galileo’s use of an astronomical telescope and achievements in cosmology, but the utility of the celestial sphere in creating a global economy may be overlooked. In an illustrated talk, historian Robert D. Hicks creates a voyage from England to Virginia to illustrate techniques of navigation at key moments during the ship’s voyage.


Last summer Robert Hicks instructed a celestial navigation course attended by a few of our members at the University of the Arts which we were all greatly impressed with.  We could not resist asking Robert to share some of the excitement of a fantastic voyage we embarked on as shipmates back in 1611 (To re-create our voyage our classroom was conducted at  the American Philosophical Society Museum, The Fels Planetarium, The Franklin Institute Pirate's Exhibit, The Seaport Museum, and the Battleship New Jersey!  It truly was an amazing journey.)

Meeting Night 3/11/09 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Special guest speaker- Max Mutchler.  Mr. Mutchler was the first person to discover the two additional satellites of Pluto in 2005 using Hubble Space Telescope Images.  Check out his recent work pictured below.  This meeting is open to the public, students are invited to attend.

Just announced!   Stunning New Hubble Photo Op of Saturn & Moons to Premiere at March 11 Meeting of Rittenhouse Astronomical Society.

Complete details here and check out the cool animation   -  K. Kremer

Small Worlds Ceres and Vesta Credit :
NASA, ESA, L.McFadden, J.Y.Li (UMCP), M.Mutchler, Z.Levay (STScI), P.Thomas (Cornell),
J.Parker, E.Young (SwRI), C.Russell, B.Schmidt (UCLA)

Meeting Night 2/11/09 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Modeled after the the Pantheon in Rome, the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was recently renovated. Powerful new computer-controlled LED illumination, which is capable of presenting a myriad of changing colors, is seen here during a special presentation to members of the Rittenhouse Astronomical Society at the conclusion of their February 11, 2009, meeting. This image was captured with a Canon EOS 40D digital SLR camera and a Sigma 18-50 mm f/2.8 zoom lens at 18 mm focal length. Handheld auto-exposure at 1/60 second, f/4.0, ISO 1600. Click here, or on the image, for a larger version. Click here to see the Franklin statue (same camera/lens; 1/30 sec, f/2.8).

Joe Stieber

We want to thank Dan McCormick, Alan Daroff, Dr. Ken Kremer, Ted Williams and Mike Mountjoy for an enjoyable evening out at the Franklin.

Dan gave us a great introduction to signing onto our Network site and a short review of RSS feeds. Alan kept us up on what is happening above, and Ken focused us in on all the activity we are conducting on Mars.   Ted helped us to find our proper location in the visible Universe with a self address stamped "Intergalactic Mailing" commemorative for International Year of Astronomy 2009. 

Mike topped off the evening with an awesome presentation about the Franklin memorial renovation.  The presentation utilized 4 high end video projectors coordinated to an amazing DMX computer controlled lighting system complete with LED color washes and automated "smart" lighting similar to concert lighting systems utilized today with some of the larger events. What attracted many questions was the tablet PC control board allowing the operator amazing control over the system at the touch of a portable hand held screen.  Ben Franklin looked truly amazed and gratified sitting amidst the effects of modern technology.

Joe Stieber was busy with his camera. We are featuring more pictures from the Franklin Memorial  Renovation and newly installed light show on our Networking site.  


Ben has never looked better!                    

       Mike Mountjoy- Computer Specialist, The Franklin

Thanks to all who put forth the effort to present and provide an amazing evening at the Franklin.

Meeting Night 1/14/09 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

David J. Thompson ~ NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope Deputy Project Scientist

"Fermi / GLAST: Viewing the Extreme Universe"

Payload Preparation

June 11, 2008 Launch of Fermi/GLAST NASA Space Telescope on Delta 2 Heavy Booster Rocket- Cape Canaveral FL.

The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, formerly called GLAST, is a mission to study the most energetic form of light: gamma rays. In addition to breakthrough capabilities in energy coverage and localization, the very large field of view enables observations of 20% of the sky at any instant and the entire sky on a timescale of a few hours. Following its launch on 11 June 2008, Fermi now opens a new and important window on a wide variety of phenomena, including pulsars, black holes and active galactic nuclei, gamma-ray bursts, the origin of cosmic rays and supernova remnants, and searches for hypothetical new phenomena such as supersymmetric dark matter annihilation.

Dr. Thompson presented ground breaking and brand new discoveries just announced this week at the annual AAS meeting: The discovery of 12 new gamma-ray-only pulsars and detection of gamma-ray pulses from 18 others. The finds are transforming our understanding of how these stellar cinders work.  MORE INFORMATION AND WEB LINKS HERE  K. Kremer

Meeting Night 12/10/08 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Phoenix and the Holy Cow

Image Credit: Marco Di Lorenzo, Kenneth Kremer,
Phoenix Mission, NASA, JPL, UA, Max Planck Inst., Spaceflight
Posted on
Astronomy Picture of the Day November 12, 2008

NASA Solar System Ambassador Dr. Ken Kremer will be our guest speaker for our December 10 meeting.  He will interpret the pictures and discoveries made during the daring Phoenix space mission to the Martian Arctic tundra. The lecture, “Daring Flight of the Phoenix: Icy Jackpot Hit on Mars (in 3-D)” is open to the public students are invited to attend.

Meeting Night 11/12/08 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Navigating Across the Solar System

Andrew K. Johnston
Geographer- Smithsonian Institute National Air and Space Museum


Meeting Night  10/8/08 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Members night is a special occasion. Listening to fellow members, and learning a bit about our organization and who we are is special in itself. We started off the evening with proposals for our membership to consider as we line up our agenda for the International Year of Astronomy-2009. Ted Williams outlined the ideas in our September newsletter. We reviewed the goals and objectives of IYA, and explained our 3 proposals which include the Heritage Project, the Ritten Ledger, and our focus on native mythology and related cosmology. We showed the Ledger and shared some ideas of how we might use it to track and get feedback from members and visitors throughout IYA 2009.

Alan Daroff reviewed what’s up in the night sky for us including the two stars (Epsilon Aurigae and Delta Cephei) that Ivin Williams has written on in the past two newsletters. Members were able to locate them amidst the Fels planetarium sky along with finding Jupiter.

Ivin Williams introduced himself to our membership, and enticed us with some of his Navajo background, including how his people were solidly grounded in their environment. He pointed out that to know the Navajo people, one needs to know the land, the topography, the climate, and how it helped to shape their lives. Ivin previewed what he would like to focus on during IYA.

Ruth List informed us about the Heritage project and her progress in the electronic publishing of the original Rittenhouse book coving our history from 1888-1960. It has some great articles including the History of Astronomy in America, along with the history of local observatories that used to send representatives to RAS meetings to share their findings. We were amazed at how RAS helped to save the Naval Academy Observatory at a time when it was relied on for accurate timing for trains, including those passing through Penn Station in Philadelphia.

Dan Benedict served up and navigated an amazing planetarium display as we traveled around the globe to observe the daily motion of the stars from various locations on Earth.  We appreciate the extra work for the programming involved to make this presentation happen.

Dave Walker did an excellent historical perspective of rockets that were developed to boost us into space. He highlighted some of the spacecraft that have topped those rockets. His talk spanned Sputnik the latest rockets from nations around the world.

Clouds were obscuring the view at this point in our  evening so we closed out the meeting with some holiday gift ideas. A few recommendations of why binoculars are better for young observers and a few home planetarium models were reviewed. I think we were all amazed with the Homestar Planetarium and its projection on the front of the Fels dome. We could pick out constellations along the Milky Way.

Meeting Night  9/10/08 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Don Knapp (Planetarium Director of the Centennial School District) opened our minds and our eyes to the energy of light.  What is light?  What properties does light have? A discussion with demonstrations of Reflection, Opaque, Transparent, Lenses, Focal length, along with a demonstration of the combination of various frequencies of light (color) were presented as an opening to our new academic year.   Don's talk was an excellent student lesson to lead into Tim Kent's presentation on astrophotography. 

Tim Kent helped us developed an understanding of what it is like starting out in Astrophotography.   His frank discussion of what to enjoy and what to avoid along with the many examples of what one can achieve with some simple equipment were the focus of his presentation.  Mr. Kent's recent  book, "StarQuest, A Beginner's Guide to Digital Astrophotography "  will be a valuable money saving guide to what you can expect to achieve when starting out at home.  

The examples of  his work on display were quite motivational, in effect showing what a beginner can accomplish.  His work shows much professional quality, and we even found the Friedman spot on one of Tim's moon photos.  Quite a nice evening for all who attended.





If you know of an interesting guest speaker, have an idea or suggestion for a future meeting,
contact Alan Daroff or  Ted Williams.


                 [Last Updated 6-22-2010 w]                   
Contents 2005-2010
© Rittenhouse Astronomical Society
Contact the Webmaster

Return to Rittenhouse Astronomical Society- Home Page