Welcome to Houston Astronomical Society

Founded in 1955, Houston Astronomical Society is an active community of enthusiastic amateur and professional astronomers with over 60 years of history in the Houston area. The club meets on the first Friday of each month at the University of Houston. Membership has a variety of benefits, including access to a secure dark site west of Houston, a telescope loaner program, and much more. Joining our club is simple; you can sign up online, by mail or in person at a monthly meeting.

President's Message

Original article appears in GuideStar September, 2014.

Have You Seen the All-Sky Camera?

The HAS observatory site now has an all-sky camera in place. It works great. I was watching it last night and I could see several bright stars and the Milky Way in the image it returned. Many thanks to Mike Edstrom who got this going, and to an anonymous donor who paid for the purchase of the camera.

I’m very pleased to hear that Mike is offering his services as Observatory Director for 2015. There have been some significant improvements at the site recently, including the weather reporting system, and the private observatories. As Mike says in his Observatory Corner article, all the private observatory sites are under subscription, so the demand has exceeded the supply. Stay tuned, there may be other opportunities for private observatories.

The HAS Elections for 2015

Right on schedule, the nominating committee headed up by Rene Gedaly, our VP, is up and running. A number of the leaders of the HAS have agreed to run again for the office they currently hold. Some of the positions will become vacant, so the committee will be searching for new nominees to fill those positions.

Many thanks to those who have served the organization in 2014 as officers, board members, elected committee leaders, or as leaders of ad-hoc committees. More about this as we approach the end of the year.

Look for Rene’s article about the nominating process on page 8 in this issue of the GuideStar. I hope you’ll offer to help the HAS in 2015. There’s always more opportunity to serve the membership than there are people willing to take on the tasks. The board often hears of good ideas for new HAS initiatives, but without the volunteers to make those ideas a reality they never get off the ground.

The production of the GuideStar is something I’ve done for quite some years, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of work I’ve put into it. It’s time for someone to step up and take this on for the future. There are plenty of sources for good content in the newsletter. I love to get content comes from our HAS members, but I get content from the AAVSO, from the NASA Space Place, and now from the UT/McDonald Observatory. The job entails formatting that content for the newsletter, dropping in into the publication and adding some content where necessary.

Anyone interested in this role in 2014 can contact me by email—guidestar@astronomyhouston.org.

Shallow Sky Object of the Month: HD 162826

Original article appears in GuideStar September, 2014.

HD 162826

by Bill Pellerin, HAS president & editor of the GuideStar

Object: HD 162826 Class: Star
Constellation: Hercules
Magnitude: 6.5
R.A.: 17 h 51 m 14 s
Dec: 40 deg 04 min 21 sec
Size/Spectral: 1.15 solar mass, F8V
Distance: 110 ly
Optics needed: Binoculars or small telescope

Why this object is interesting:

We all know that stars are ‘born’ in clusters. The evidence of that is easy to find. The Pleiades is a cluster of relatively young stars which have yet to completely shed their cocoon of dust and gas. The Orion Nebula is an example of stars in an earlier stage of development, still enshrouded with the dust and gas that is forming the stars.

It should be no surprise, after all, that our sun was born with other stars and that a bit of looking around and analysis of nearby stars would allow us to identify the Sun’s siblings. Astronomers at the University of Texas McDonald Observatory, led by Ivan Ramirez, have done just that, and this summer announced that HD162826 is one of those sibling stars.

How do they know? For one, the star has a similar chemical composition to our sun, and while it is comprised mostly of hydrogen and helium, it also has some elements in common with the Sun… barium and yttrium. Relatively young stars like our Sun have formed in a universe in which earlier stars have cast off some of these heavy elements. The concentration of these heavy elements in the interstellar medium is not uniform, however, so clouds of similar elements form stars with similar elements. The cluster in which this star and our sun formed is likely to be an open cluster. Globular clusters are older and tend to keep their shape as a globular because of the mutual gravity among the stars. Click read more

Access Members-Only Site Features

If you're a current member, you'll want to log in and check out the member features. As a member, you can view the observatory weather-cam, post photo galleries, edit your club profile, send private messages to other members, post in the trading forum, and more. If you have a valid email address on file with the club, you already have an account ready to go. Here's how to access it:

  • Go to the Password Reset page
  • Type in your email address and click "E-mail new password"
  • Check your email and follow the instructions in the password reset message

If you have any problems, drop a note to webmaster@astronomyhouston.org and we'll get you sorted out.

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