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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.

April 04, 2014: April 2014 Monthly Meeting

Novice Meeting: 7:00PM
Novice Meeting Topic: 
Finding Your Way in the Night Sky
Novice Meeting Speaker: 
Rene Gedaly
General Meeting: 8:00PM
General Meeting Topic: 
Using Technology Developed for the Central Trackers at the LHC at CERN to Provide Active Space Radiation Monitors for Astronauts
General Meeting Speaker: 
Larry Pinsky, University of Houston
About the General Meeting Presentation

The Medipix Collaborations at CERN have been spun-off to develop the active pixel detector technology used at the LHC for medical imaging applications. While the University of Houston is active in that effort, it is also heavily involved in using the same technology to provide active space radiation dosimeters and area monitors. There are currently 6 units deployed on the ISS, and the first test of the new Orion module will carry 2 battery powered units, the only radiation monitors on that mission. Work is also underway to develop the operational units that will be built into the final manned Orion spacecraft. The technology is so compact and agile, that an actual device identical to the flight unit on the ISS will be demonstrated during the talk using only the laptop used to control the PowerPoint presentation.

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.

Parking is available in lot 15F as shown in the accompanying diagram (provided by the University of Houston Parking Director Paul Lozano). This site is off Cullen Boulevard, just south of the new parking garage. The University of Houston has been provided a list of meeting dates for the Houston Astronomical Society to the end of 2013. UH campus police have those dates on their calendar and will not issue citations for HAS attendees.
Map to Lot 15F

April 26, 2014, 8:02PM: Next Prime Night - 26 April 2014

Next prime night at Columbus dark site will be 26 April 2014. Here are the ephemera:

Sunset 20:02
End of evening twilight 21:26
Begin of morning twilight 5:23
Moonrise 5:40
Moon illuminated 6%

I'll post more information and observing suggestions in the next few days.

Steve Fast

John Love — Tinkerer: A GuideStar Interview

Original article appears in GuideStar March, 2014.

John Love

It’s funny how you tend to run into astronomy folks from year to year at various star parties around the country and befriend them. One of those friends is John Love who I always enjoy seeing at various star gatherings.

John years ago, worked for Meade Instruments in Texas. In 1987, I purchased a new Meade 10” f6 Research Series from Gordon Gower, a Houston Astronomical Society member who ran his Meade telescope business out of his home in Texas City. Turns out that John and Gordon were good friends and business acquaintances. Is it a small world or what?

In more recent times, John has devised his own astronomy product by fabricating a portable light-block system that he calls “SkyBox” to be used during an observing session. He will discuss this product below, but for now, let’s find out more about John. Here’s Johnny…

Shallow Sky Object of the Month: Kappa Cas, SAO11256

Original article appears in GuideStar March, 2014.

Kappa Cas

by Bill Pellerin, editor of the HAS GuideStar

Object: Kappa Cas
Class: Fast moving Star
Constellation: Cassiopeia
Magnitude: 4.17
Speed: 2,500,000 miles/hr = 694 miles/sec
R.A.: 00 h 33m 00 s
Dec: 62 deg 55 min 54 sec
Size/Spectral: B
Distance: ~3500 ly
Optics needed: Unaided eye

Why this is interesting

This star shows up in the GCVS (the General Catalog of Variable Stars), but it isn’t very variable. AAVSO members have reported the star as dim as 4.25 and as bright as 3.8, but that’s not why it’s interesting.

I happened upon an article about the star recently indicating that in infrared images...

HAS Forum Rules And Procedures

Active HAS members in good standing *do not* need to register to post to the forum. Log in to http://www.astronomyhouston.org and click the Forums tab. You will be authenticated without having to re-enter a username and password.

To quickly check forum activity, click one of these links from the main forum page: View unanswered posts • View unread posts • View new posts • View active topics. Other options are also available so you can bookmark or subscribe to individual forum topics.

If you have issues with automatic forum login, click the read more button for the entire procedure.

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.