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.

July 11, 2014: July 2014 Monthly Meeting

Novice Meeting: 7:00PM
Novice Meeting Topic: 
Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescopes
Novice Meeting Speaker: 
Allen Wilkerson
General Meeting: 8:00PM
General Meeting Topic: 
STEREO Space Mission
General Meeting Speaker: 
Annie Wargetz
About the General Meeting Presentation

STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory) is the third mission in NASA's Solar Terrestrial Probes program (STP). It employs two nearly identical space-based observatories—one ahead of Earth in its orbit, the other trailing behind—to provide the first-ever stereoscopic measurements to study the Sun and the nature of its coronal mass ejections, or CMEs.

Parking and Directions (View Map)

Meetings are held in the Science & Research building at the University of Houston Main Campus. The novice meeting is in room 116, the general meeting is in room 117.

NOTE NEW PARKING INFORMATION: Parking is available in lot 15C. Refer to the Google Map below for directions. This parking is available from 6:30 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. on the Friday night of the HAS meeting.

This parking is free. If you get a notice from the UH campus police on the night of the meeting, call the UH Security office and let them know that this area has been made available on HAS meeting night by the Parking Department.

Map to Parking

Shallow Sky Object of the Month: Barnard 68 - Dark Nebula

Original article appears in GuideStar July, 2014.

B68 extinction graph

by Bill Pellerin, HAS president & editor of the GuideStar

Object: Barnard 68
Class: Dark Nebula, Bok Globule
Constellation: Ophiucus
Magnitude: n/a
R.A.: 17h 22 m 38 s
Dec: -23 deg 49 min 34 sec
Size/Spectral: 4 arc minutes, about 0.5 ly across
Distance: 500 ly
Optics needed: Telescope

Why this object is interesting:

This object will require dark skies (no moon), and will benefit from large aperture. Transits about 10:30 p.m. on July 26, prime night at the HAS observing site.

Stars form when a collapsing cloud of hydrogen, helium, and dust finally heats up enough to begin nuclear fusion. There are numerous nebulae in which you can find young stars that have recently ‘turned on’. The object this month is one that represents an even earlier stage in star formation. You’ll be looking at a cloud of gas and dust that is starting its collapse but that has not yet formed any stars.

How can we see this? In this case, the cloud is in a star-rich part of the Milky way, so we get a good look at the cloud because it obscures the stars behind it.

The nebula is kidney shaped, and obviously not spherical (yet). It’s not spherical because there hasn’t been enough time for the material that will make the new star(s) to collapse enough to become spherical. These things start with irregularly shaped collections of dust and gas and only become spherical over time.Comparison of B68 visual and in infrared

If you look at an image of B68 in infrared light, you’ll see the stars behind the cloud shining through the cloud, but significantly reddened. This is because the material disperses the blue light from those stars in the same way that stuff in our atmosphere disperses the blue light from the Sun (explaining why the sky is blue). You can get a sense of the density of the cloud as well, and it should be no surprise that the densest part of the object is near the center.

President's Message

Original article appears in GuideStar July, 2014.

by Bill Pellerin, President

Meeting Date is July 11

To avoid conflicting with members’ plans for Independence Day, the members voted, based on a recommendation of the board, to move the July meeting to July 11. I look forward to seeing you all at the meeting.

HAS Organization Status

Thanks to some legal work, done by HAS member Scott Mitchell, the status of the Houston Astronomical Society as a non-profit educational organization has been confirmed by the State of Texas. This work was in addition to the work done with the Colorado County taxing authority to assure that the organization was not liable for property tax for our observing site. The board of directors greatly appreciates Scott’s contribution of time and expertise on this issue.

The Houston Astronomical Society Election

It’s only July, but it’s probably not too early to be thinking about the 2015 year of the HAS. The nominating committee is obliged by the by-laws to present candidates for the various elected offices of the HAS at the October meeting. This means that it won’t be long before the nominating committee will start calling HAS members to assess their interest in holding one of these elected offices.

You can get a jump on the nominating committee by contacting our VP (Rene Gedaly) and expressing your interest in one of the elected offices. There are 4 officers, 5 board members, and 9 committee leaders to be nominated. Read the by-laws to get the list of elected positions. There’s a link to the by-laws at the bottom of the home page of the HAS web site.

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 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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