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.

2017 Was a Great Year for Astronomy - Look Out - Here Comes 2018!

2017 was a great year for astronomy.  In its last issue of every year, Science News picks its 10 best science stories of the year, and three of them were about astronomy.  In first place was the history-making observation of the binary neutron star collision in galaxy NGC 4993, about 130 million light years from earth. This detection ushered in a new era of “multi-messenger” astronomy.

This collision was first detected by the two LIGO gravity wave observatories in the USA and the Virgo observatory near Pisa Italy. It was detected 1.7 seconds later as a gamma-ray burst by observatory satellites in earth orbit. Over the next several weeks, the “kilonova” the collision spawned was observed in every frequency of electromagnetic radiation, from x-rays to radio waves. The observations absorbed an estimated 15% of global observatory time, and almost 4,000 astronomers, physicists, and astrophysicists were involved in the observations and their analysis.

You can read more about this merger of neutron stars here https://www.ligo.org/science/Publication-GW170817MMA/flyer.pdf and see a NASA video simulation of the merger here: https://youtu.be/x_Akn8fUBeQ

2017 was a banner year for HAS too. During the year, our Outreach Program achieved new highs in the number of events we covered and the number of our members who volunteered to share their love of astronomy with the public. Under the leadership of Joe Khalaf, we also provided the public with the opportunity to observe the night sky by partnering with the Lunar and Planetary Institute for “Observe the Moon Night”, organized a meteor shower party at a nearby state park, and set up telescopes at some unconventional venues such as a music festival, a corporate event on Discovery Green and at an iconic Houston film festival.  We also showed the partial eclipse to well over 300 people who might not otherwise have had the opportunity… click read more button

Asterisms – Umbrella

By: Steve Goldberg

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

Constellation: Hydra
Right Ascension:  08h 40m 00.0s
Declination: -12o 30’ 00”
Magnitude: 5 to 8
Size: 1.5 degrees

 

 

This binocular or finder size asterism in Hydra looks just like it sounds, like an umbrella. The Umbrella is located between Sirius, Procyon and Alphard (Alpha) Hydra.

In the center of the circle is star 6 Hydra. Once you locate this star, you can see the shape of the umbrella. The other bright star in the circle is 12 Hydra.

 

In the center is star 6 Hydra and the lower left is 12 Hydra. The circle is approximately 4 degrees in size which is typically a finder size.

 

Here is the outline of the umbrella.

This asterism is on the Astronomical League’s Asterism Observing Program.

 

Time To Renew Your Membership

It’s a busy time of year. With the Holidays fast approaching and the New Year around the corner, you’ve got lots to do – decorate for the holidays, gift shopping, and planning for family events. Its also time to RENEW YOUR HAS MEMBERSHIP!

HAS memberships run from 1 January to December 31. Fortunately, renewing your membership is fast and easy!

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HAS has begun using RainedOut, a text message service, to communicate late-breaking news about events. Click here to learn more and subscribe!

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