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.

See Eclipse Live on Slooh

Slooh Livestreams Coast-to-Coast Coverage of the Transcontinental Solar Eclipse
Monday August 21, 2017

Courtesy of Slooh, www.slooh.com

Visit Slooh.com to snap and share your own photos from this live event, and interact with our hosts and guests, and personally control Slooh’s telescopes.

HAS in the News!

HAS was invited to record a podcast and record a Facebook Live session at the KPRC studio with meteorologist Justin Stapleton.

Here’s the Facebook Live recording:

Where will you be for the Great American Eclipse?

If you can’t be on the eclipse centerline August 21, 2017, there are are plenty of locations around Houston where you can learn about and experience the Great American Eclipse. Check these out: 

Saturday, August 19 Preparing For The Solar Eclipse Workshop, Various Times Starting at 10:30 a.m.

Children's Museum of Houston
1500 Binz, Houston, Texas 77004 
Are you ready for the Solar Eclipse on August 21st? Join us for a short workshop to explore how a total solar eclipse occurs and learn safe and effective ways to view the eclipse. As a part of this workshop, you will construct your very own Solar Eclipse Pin-hole Viewer! Workshops (limited to 12 children) at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m., and 4:30 p.m.
·     Age requirements: Recommended ages 6 and up with accompanying adult
·     Fee: $5.00 through advance online-only registration per child (this is in addition to museum admission costs)
·     Workshop length: 45 minutes
http://www.cmhouston.org/event/solar-eclipse-workshop

Monday, August 21 - ECLIPSE DAY!

STATE PARKS ACROSS TEXAS

Check out the Texas Parks and Wildlife website to see if a state park near you is hosting an eclipse viewing event. From the Guadalupe River State Park to Bastrop State Park to Lake Whitney State Park and more, join in the viewing festivities!
https://tpwd.texas.gov/calendar/stargazing 

LIBRARIES ACROSS TEXAS

Thousands of participating libraries across the nation are hosting an eclipse event. Lots of libraries across Texas are hosting events. Check out the map online and find participating libraries in your area: http://www.starnetlibraries.org/2017eclipse/

HOUSTON AREA:
EclipseMendenhall.PNG
 
HAS at Trini Mendenhall Community Center
11:30am - 1:30pm


1414 Wirt Rd, Houston, TX 77055


Join Telescope Chairman Allen Wilkerson at the Mendenhall Community Center in Houston to view the eclipse. If you’ve been to a SIG or HAS party, you know where this is. Click blue link above to get directions from your location.
 

The Great American Eclipse at Sugar Land, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Houston Museum of Natural Science at Sugar Land
13016 University Blvd., Sugar Land, Texas 77479

Join HMNS at Sugar Land for one of nature’s most awe inspiring sights—a solar eclipse! The continental United States won’t see another eclipse of this caliber until 2024, so this is a unique experience. And you can see a partial eclipse right here in Sugar Land. Telescopes will be on-hand for safe viewing, plus out-of-this-world crafts and activities. The first 50 people will receive complimentary solar eclipse glasses, necessary for safely viewing the eclipse. Great American Eclipse activities and viewing is included with admission to HMNS at Sugar Land!
http://www.hmns.org/hmns-at-sugar-land/events/the-great-american-eclipse-at-sugar-land/

Eclipse Over Houston, 12 p.m. - 2 p.m. Levy Park
3801 Eastside Street, Houston, TX 77098

The Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI), in partnership with Levy Park and the Clear Lake City-County Freeman Branch Library, is helping Houstonians experience the Eclipse over Houston on August 21, 2017.  On that day, the Moon will pass directly between the Earth and sun, casting the Moon’s shadow on the continental U.S. from coast to coast for more than 90 minutes. This is the first total solar eclipse visible over the US since 1981 and the first since 1918 to be seen coast to coast. Join scientists and educators from the LPI, and your community, at Levy Park and Freeman Library to witness this historical event you are sure to talk about for many years to come! At both locations, safe, solar viewing glasses will be available. **NEVER look directly at the sun without proper viewing equipment.**
http://www.lpi.usra.edu/education/solar-eclipse/

Eclipse Over Houston, 12 p.m. - 2 p.m. Clear Lake City-County Freeman Branch Library
16616 Diana Lane, Houston, TX 77062

The Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI), in partnership with Levy Park and the Clear Lake City-County Freeman Branch Library, is helping Houstonians experience the Eclipse over Houston on August 21, 2017.  On that day, the Moon will pass directly between the Earth and sun, casting the Moon’s shadow on the continental U.S. from coast to coast for more than 90 minutes. This is the first total solar eclipse visible over the US since 1981 and the first since 1918 to be seen coast to coast. Join scientists and educators from the LPI, and your community, at Levy Park and Freeman Library to witness this historical event you are sure to talk about for many years to come! At both locations, safe, solar viewing glasses will be available. **NEVER look directly at the sun without proper viewing equipment.**
http://www.lpi.usra.edu/education/solar-eclipse/

The Great American Eclipse, 12 p.m. - 2 p.m. Houston Museum of Natural Science
5555 Hermann Park Dr., Houston,Texas 77030

Join HMNS as we experience a partial solar eclipse right here in Houston. The next eclipse of this caliber will not be visible in the United States until 2024, so you don’t want to miss this! The Burke Baker Planetarium will hold six special, 15-minute programs between noon and 2 p.m. explaining the aspects of the eclipse and including images from Houston, the center line of totality and even the Moon. Tickets are only $4, and can be purchased at the box office! Finally at 2 p.m., a special showing of Starry Night Express will feature a live feed from Casper, Wyoming, with Museum staff in the path of totality. Filtered telescopes will be set up outside the Sundial Plaza at the front entrance of HMNS, and the Museum store will offer solar glasses that you will need to observe the eclipse safely. Outdoor events are weather dependent.
http://www.hmns.org/education/families/family-events-and-classes/the-gre...

HAS featured in the Houston Chronicle

When Houston wants to know about astronomy, they contact the Houston Astronomical Society. Below are highlights from an article written by Houston Chronicle reporter Rebecca Hazen. See the full article here: http://tinyurl.com/HASinHoustonChronicle.

TheObservatoryAtNightAtributed.pngThere are four astronomy clubs in the Houston area, the largest of them the Houston Astronomical Society, which was founded in 1955. The biggest advantage to joining the Society, according to Publicity Chair Bram Weisman, is that they have a private members-only observatory 90 minutes west of Houston. The site has electricity and running water, which allows people to bring a tent or an RV and stay overnight.

Plus, there are also special interest groups for visual observation, women, and kids within the society.

HAS President Rene Gedaly added "I noticed that while women would attend the lecture meetings at the University of Houston, they didn't often return. From my own past experience, I realized that the main lectures were targeted to the advanced amateur astronomer. We now have programs that show the new amateur astronomer the ropes, helping him or her take the hobby as far as they want to go."

According to Weisman, it is becoming increasingly hard to find good areas with dark skies due to city growth. If your goal is to do deep sky observing, Weisman advises, then you are going to get the best enjoyment on a moonless night. But if you are keen on the moon, “you can enjoy it in an urban environment."

WSIG classSteve and Amelia Goldberg have been longtime members of HAS since 1977 and 1980. They both became interested in astronomy when they first each saw Saturn in a telescope. The Goldbergs are traveling to the path of totality for the eclipse, as are many other HAS members. "We are actually packing our bags now. We are going to Oregon. To me, it is an emotional experience," Amelia said.

When asked what their favorite part about being in HAS was, Amelia said, "Aside from observing, the outreach that we do. We go to different schools, churches, and Scout troops. We like just sharing our hobby with the public."

Steve continued, "Astronomy is one of the closet hobbies that a lot of people have but don't follow up with. Joining a club is one way to enjoy that interest."

Gedaly added "Tailoring programs to various segments of our wider community has resulted in major growth in the number of people who participate in hands-on astronomy, which we think of as a gateway science to the other STEM fields. Already we see the beginnings of a new type of hobbyist, one based on the use of robotic telescopes and operated from the comfort of one's own home."

Asterisms – Teaspoon and Lemon in Sagittarius

By: Steve Goldberg

Original article appears in GuideStar August, 2017.

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

Constellation: Sagittarius                             

Right Ascension: 19 h, 04 m

Declination: -24o 44’

Magnitude:  Naked eye

Size: 8o x 4o                                     

                       

In the constellation Sagittarius, the Teapot, there are 2 asterisms that share common stars: The Lemon and The Spoon. It is the line of stars to the “upper left” of the Teapot, attached to the “handle” of the Teapot.                                                                          

 

 

The “Lemon” is the lower 3 stars: Pi π, Omicron ο and Xi ξ.

                                                                                               

 

 

 

The “Spoon” includes the “Lemon” with 2 additional stars at the top. Starting with the “highest star”, they are: Rho ρ, 43 Sgr, Pi π, Omicron ο and Xi ξ.

Since the Teapot’s spout is spewing steam or hot water creating the Milky Way, you need a Teaspoon to put the Lemon in your tea.

Gulf Coast Weather and Astronomy

Original article appears in GuideStar June, 2017.

by Stephen Jones

On multiple occasions, usually upon hearing how much observing I’ve been able to do in a relatively short time, people have asked me “how do you know it’s going to be clear when you head out to the dark site?”  To be honest, frequently I don’t!  Here on the Gulf Coast, our weather is notoriously volatile. 

In the winter months though, usually clear skies are pretty predictable.  Watch your local weather forecast for a cold front, look at when it’s going to pass, and head to the site the next night (assuming there’s not another front right behind it!). 

Summer is a completely different beast, however.  In summer, the parade of fronts that we see in the winter stays to the north of us, and we are instead treated to a daily cycle of the sun heating the gulf, generating a bunch of storms which then drift over land and dump some rain on us.  These storms are generally quite small in area and isolated.  One time I distinctly remember driving less than a mile from my home to the store, and it wasn’t raining either at my home or the store, but I drove through pouring down rain on the trip… click the read more button

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