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.

June 02, 2017: Membership Seminars at UH

Novice Meeting: 7:00PM
Novice Meeting Topic: 
Exploring Ursa Major and The Big Dipper
Novice Meeting Speaker: 
Ed Fraini
General Meeting: 8:00PM
General Meeting Topic: 
Science Fair Presentations
General Meeting Speaker: 
Houston 2017 Science & Engineering Fair Awardees
About the General Meeting Presentation

HAS is pleased to have the 2017 Science Engineering Fair students present their HAS award-winning projects at our main meeting.

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

Asterisms - Napoleon's Hat, Picot 1

Original article appears in GuideStar May, 2017.

By: Steve Goldberg

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

Constellation: Bootes

Right Ascension: 14 h 15 m 01 s

Declination: 18o 30’ 46”

Magnitude: 9 to 10                                         

This asterism is composed of 7 stars in the shape of Napoleon’s Hat. This asterism is located very near the star Arcturus in the constellation Bootes.


French Astronomer Fulbert Picot discovered this interesting seven star grouping. Some listings call it Picot 1 or Napoleon's Hat, since it resembles the famous divan.

Deep Sky Object of the Month - M3

by Stephen Jones

Objects: M3
Constellation: Canes Venatici
Type: Globular Cluster
Magnitudes: 6.2
Discoverer: Charles Messier, 1764
Equipment necessary: Should be fairly easy to detect as a nebulous object in binoculars or a small telescope; naked-eye detection has been reported, but should be exceedingly difficult. Resolution into stars begins in a 4-inch, resolved completely in a 12-inch.

It is a common misconception, generally by folks who have spent more time looking at photographs than doing visual observing, that globular clusters all look the same. Not so! Photos of globulars tend to overexpose the core to bring out the outer filaments, blurring much of the distinctiveness of the individual cluster, but visually we can see these differences easily. M3 is perhaps my favorite among the bright globulars for its distinctive shape.

M3, while bright, can be somewhat of a challenge to locate, just because it’s in a very isolated area with few bright stars very close to its position. One way of locating it is to imagine it as one vertex of a large near-equilateral triangle with Arcturus and ρ Boötis. Another way is to follow a line from γ Comae Berenicis to β Comae Berenicis and continue East

One of the more interesting historical observations of M3 comes from the 19th century British amateur astronomer Admiral William Smyth, whose “Bedford Catalogue” was the very first book ever written in the genre that we visual observers can’t get enough of: the observing guide. In his lengthy description of M3, he compares it to a jellyfish, and illustrates his impression with the sketch seen here.

Smyth’s asymmetrical description of M3 appears to be at odds with popular astronomy works of the 20th century; the revered Burnham’s Celestial Handbook mentions nothing of this feature of M3, and Kenneth Glyn Jones in his work Messier’s Nebulae and Star Clusters even mentions Smyth’s description and actively disagrees with it, stating that he saw the stars to be very evenly distributed. Having read these descriptions before I ever observed M3, I expected the newer sources would be closer to what I would see, so imagine my surprise as I first turned my scope to it and saw Admiral Smyth’s jellyfish staring me in the face! Even more interestingly, on subsequent observations it looked much more round. Could it be the stars on the side that Smyth observed as more compressed (top left in the sketch) are fainter, so that the cluster assumes the jellyfish shape with smaller scopes or poorer transparency, but looks rounder under conditions where those stars are more easily seen? What do you see when you look at M3?

HAS Texas 45 Honor Roll

tx45logosmall.jpgAre you interested in developing skills in observational astronomy? Head out to Columbus for the HAS Texas 45! Observers who successfully complete this observing program will be presented both a pin and a certificate of completion at the HAS general membership meeting. Program details: https://www.astronomyhouston.org/programs/has-texas-45

The following members have completed the HAS Texas 45 observing program. Congratulations!

  • Steve Fast, gold level award, all star hopping, certificate #1
  • Rob Torrey, silver level award, all 65, certificate #2
  • Rene Gedaly, gold level award, all star hopping, certificate #3
  • Chris Thiede, gold level award, all star hopping, certificate #4
  • Amelia Goldberg, silver level award, star hop 45, certificate #5
  • Craig Lamison, gold level, all star hopping, certificate #6
  • Clayton Jeter, gold level award, all star hopping, certificate #7
  • Brian Cudnik, silver level award, all 65, certificate #8
  • Steve Goldberg, silver level award, star hop 45, certificate #9

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