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.

Saturday Oct 22: Swap Meet, Picnic & Open House


The Annual Picnic & Open House is Saturday, Oct 22, 2016. New this year is an astronomical equipment Swap Meet! .

4:00 - 6:00 p SWAP MEET. Bring your astronomy stuff to trade or sell. RSVP to Steve Munsey
5:15 p sharp! CARAVAN to the dark site from the Wal-Mart parking lot at I-10 exit 696 (across the street from our usual meeting place at the Whataburger)
6:00 - 7:00 p PICNIC. On the menu: beef and chicken fajitas, rice & beans, pico de gallo, corn and flour tortillas, tea and lemonade. Thanks, Mario! RSVP to StephenJ@astronomyhouston.org.
7:00 - 9:00 p WOMEN’S SIG. You asked for it, Ladies! Learn telescope operating basics for the absolute newbie and find your way around the sky. RSVP to ReneG@astronomyhouston.org
8:00 – ??? OBSERVATORY OPEN HOUSE. Come see the observatory’s three permanent telescopes. A full crew will show you the sky.


And, if you dare, show up in costume! 

This event is for members and their guests only. RSVP to StephenJ@astronomyhouston.org if you’ll be eating at the picnic.

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October 22, 2016, 7:00PM: WSIG Telescope Lab meets at Picnic & Open House

Rene Gedaly in the HAS ObservatoryThe Women's Special Interest Group will meet for a hands-on telescope lab Saturday, Oct 22nd at the HAS Picnic & Open House following the picnic dinner.This is a members-only event. Please RSVP to ReneG@astronomyhouston.org.
Target schedule
7:00 - 7:30 p    Telescope overview. Meet at Amelia's Deck. Look for the Pink Telescope—you can’t miss it
7:30 - 8:00 p    Planisphere and Star Atlas How-To
8:00 - 9:00 p    Operating a telescope and finding your way around the sky
9:00 - 10:00 p  Your chance to operate the 12.5" f/5 observatory telescope. In the Observatory

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Experience the Orionid Meteor Shower LIVE on Slooh

You can go to Slooh.com to join and watch this live broadcast, snap and share your own photos during the event, chat with audience members and interact with the hosts, and personally control Slooh’s telescopes.

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At the Annual Meeting in November: Dr Lisa Whitehead, UH Physics

DrLisaWhitehead.JPGNovember 4, 2016 is the Annual Membership meeting where we elect the incoming leadership team. To get you to show up, we also have a great speaker. This year is Dr. Lisa Whitehead. Says Professor Whitehead

The neutrino is one of the elementary particles which make up the universe. Neutrinos are produced in the fusion reactions inside the sun and other stars, by natural radiation inside the earth, by supernovae, and by charged particles bombarding Earth’s atmosphere.  Despite their abundance, they are difficult to study because they interact very rarely.  I will give an overview of the history of neutrino physics, from the postulation of their existence to last year's Nobel Prize for the discovery of neutrino oscillations, and describe what we hope to learn in the future.

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President’s letter

Original article appears in GuideStar October, 2016.

by Rene Gedaly

Don’t blink, members. Lots happening at HAS. 

October 22nd Picnic & Open House at the Observatory Dark Site. It's always a great time at our beautiful grounds in dark, rural, Colorado County. The food is great and so's the fellowship. Bring your telescope if you've got one and take a tour of the observatory—we’ve got a new Ritchey-Chretien on a Paramount telescope mount. Come out and have a great time getting to know your clubmates.

The Women's SIG will get some hands-on using several types of telescopes. Weather willing, the WSIG will also learn how to use those scopes to observe the night sky with the help of planispheres and the Pocket Sky Atlas—the “go to” star chart of astronomers everywhere. 

Outreach, Star Parties, and more. Look often at that right vertical banner of the website under UPCOMING EVENTS. Outreach and club events are added often.

Have you seen the 2017 slate of candidates for election at the Annual Meeting Nov 4? VP Ed Fraini has hit it out of the park. The slate includes a mix of generations of singular ability and all have a passion for astronomy coupled with a dedication to the Society. This includes your ad hoc committee chairs who are too valuable to risk the vagaries of election …

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Election Notice: Call for Director Nominees



At the November 7, 2016 Annual Membership Meeting, the Society will hold an election to fill a vacancy on the board of directors.

Web Technology Chairperson Mark Ferraz has accepted nomination by the President to fill the vacancy.

All members in good standing are also encouraged to throw their hat in the ring. Nominations will be taken from the floor.


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Elections at Annual Meeting Nov 4, 2016

Ed Fraini, Nominating Committee Chairperson, announces the following slate of candidates standing for election to lead HAS in 2017. Nominations will also be taken from the floor.

2017 Slate 2.jpg

The members below are not elected but have agreed to run our ad hoc committees. Thank you!

2017 AdHoc.JPG

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Shallow Sky Object of the Month

Original article appears in GuideStar October, 2016.


What’s the Sunspot Number?

By Bill Pellerin

Object:  The Sun
Class: Star
Magnitude:  -26.74
Size/Spectral:  Diameter = 109 x Earth diameter; G2V
Distance:  93 million miles
Optics needed: See links below for observing information

You might be surprised to find out that the ‘Sunspot number’ for any given day is not simply a count of the number of visible sunspots. As with many things in science, it’s not that simple. The sunspot number is calculated using the simple equation:

R = (10*G + S)*K
R = the sunspot number
G = the number of sunspot groups observed
S = the count of all sunspots in all groups
K = a scaling number to compensate for variables (see text).

So, in the end, to calculate the sunspot number you’d count the number of sunspot groups and multiply that number by 10. You then add the result to the number of individual sunspots in all groups, and finally multiply that result by K. …

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Take your dark site orientation online


The HAS Dark Site is available to all members in good standing who have:

  • Paid their current year’s dues
  • Have been a member for a minimum of 2 months
  • Completed the online site orientation training

Need to complete your training? Here's how:

1. Log in to the website at the top of the page with your username and password. Click FORGOT PASSWORD if needed. A password reset link will be emailed to the address you gave when you joined.
2. Click the "About the Society” tab
3. Click the “Our Observatory” subtab 
4. Scroll down and click the “Start Your Training” button.
    Ten questions and you get 3 tries to pass with an 80%. Easy. See you at the dark site!

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