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. Through education and outreach, our programs promote science literacy and astronomy awareness. We meet 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 is simple; you can sign up online, by mail or in person at a monthly meeting.

President's Letter

by Rene Gedaly

Hoping this finds you and yours well and on the mend from Harvey

Where were you for the Great American Eclipse of August 21, 2017? I was in Casper, WY for my first total solar eclipse and my first Astronomical League Convention. Neither will be my last.

Allen showing the public the solar eclipseHAS was out in force for the partial  Michael Rapp was busy with students at the University of Houston, and Allen Wilkerson, Sherry Irby, and Stephen Jones were at the Mendenhall Community Center. They planned for 150 attendees and got 300+. Get ready now for April 8, 2024: The Great Texas Eclipse.

Changes to Bylaws  In 2013 and 2014 we changed our bylaws to bring them better in line with the way we operate. This year we’d like you to consider three more changes: (1) online meetings of the board of directors, (2) online voting by the membership, and (3) changes to the dues process. Notification of the proposed changes will go out by October 1, 2017.

Elections  VP Don Selle and his nominating committee are working hard to select a leadership slate for 2018. Interested in running? Contact Don now or throw your hat in the ring from the floor at the Annual Meeting in November. The slate will be posted on the website and emailed to HAS@astrolist.org by October 1.

We must rebuild our infrastructure  Chatting with others at AstroCon 2017 in Casper, I learned what an extraordinary observatory and dark site we have. Sure, I bragged on us a bit—but did not exaggerate—and was met with astonishment that HAS can support all we do on $36/year per member. How do we do it? We have a generous membership who donate to specific funds, like the Observatory. We also save because of sweat equity. The dark site is maintained by the observatory committee and includes DIY repairs and maintenance of the entire site. (You thought it was only mowing?) However, some of our infrastructure is decades old and in need of professional repair or replacement. We also need new facilities to accommodate increased use and growth.

We need money  How do we raise the funds we need? Especially when many of us are picking up the pieces from Harvey? Often, I'm asked by new members and their guests how much it costs to rent an RV spot, a pad, or stay overnight in a bunkhouse. We're an inclusive club and want these facilities open to all, so we charge nothing. To continue, however, we must raise funds. Mike Edstrom, Observatory Chairperson, will be running the fundraising campaign. Please contact Mike when you’re able to help.

Asterisms: ET, NGC 457, Owl Cluster, Caldwell 13, Kachina Doll Cluster

By: Steve Goldberg

Asterism: a grouping of stars that form a recognizable pattern.

Constellation: Cassiopeia
Right Ascension: 01 h, 19 m 35s
Declination: 58o 17’ 12”
Magnitude:  5.1
Size: 15’ (minutes)

This cluster, NGC457, was discovered by William Herschel in 1787, and lies over 7,900 light years away from the Sun. The asterism is also commonly known as the Owl Cluster. After the movie “ET-The Extraterrestrial” was released the name “ET” was also given to this asterism.




Looking at this image you can see 2 bright stars, which are the eyes of ET. A horizontal line of stars under the “eyes” are the outstretched arms, with another line of stars going downward for the legs.


At public outreach events where children are present this object is a big hit.






AL Corner: Musings from the HAS Astronomical League Coordinator

Original article appears in GuideStar June, 2017.

by Doug McCormick
ALCOR_Doug.pngGreetings from your HAS Astronomical League Coordinator (ALCOR), and welcome to the first segment of what I intend to be a regular update on the Astronomical League (AL). In future articles, I’ll be relating news from the League and discussing the various benefits of belonging to a member organization of the AL. In addition, I’ll discuss the Astronomical League Observing Programs and recognize HAS members that have completed them.

If you’ve attended one of our meetings in the last couple of years, you’ve likely heard me say that one of the greatest benefits of league membership is the opportunity to participate in the League’s numerous observing programs. These programs are very popular with the membership and the astronomical community across the country. In future segments, I’m going to reach back and recognize past awardees, but for now, here are the HAS League awards for the first quarter of 2017:

  • Rene Gedaly, Globular Cluster Award (Visual)
  • Stephen Jones, Deep Sky Binocular Club

Congratulations to Rene and Stephen, and my apologies to James King who would have received an award in the first quarter if our communications were better. We can look forward to Jim’s award soon. If you’re going to pursue one of the League programs, be sure to check the requirements for that program on the League’s website, www.astroleague.org, to make sure you get off to a good start. For more information regarding the League, the League Observing Programs or to submit your observations for your award, you can email me at astroleague@astronomyhouston.org. I look forward to hearing from you, and keep turning those eyes and cameras to the sky.

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