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.

Recorded Video Presentations

Members know that a full library of recorded presentations is available for watching day or (cloudy) night anywhere in cyberspace they can log in. Below is a shot of our most recently posted video, The Birth of Stars given by Dr. Kim Arvidsson of Schreiner University. Aren’t a member yet? Join now for the best astronomy club value anywhere.

Kim Arvidsson

Asterisms – Triple Double, Theta Tau

Original article appears in GuideStar March, 2017.

Asterism Theta Tau

by Steve Goldberg

Asterism: a grouping of stars that form a recognizable pattern 
Constellation: Taurus
Right Ascension: 04 h, 30 m
Declination: 16° 00’

As mentioned at the Novice seminar in January, 2017, the asterism “Triple Double” is easily seen in small telescopes. It is located in Taurus, near bright star Aldebaran. Going from Aldebaran to the “point” star in the head of the bull (Gamma 54), the asterism is the naked eye star, Theta, between the two. In the eyepiece you will see 3 pairs of 2 stars around the field of view. The groups of stars are: Theta 1 and 2, and 80 and 81, and the pair in the upper left of the FOV (field of view). The FOV in the second picture is from a 10” telescope with a 15mm eyepiece.

Future asterisms: “37”, Coat Hanger, Star Gate and NGC 457 (“ET”). If you have a favorite asterism, let me know.

President’s Letter

Original article appears in GuideStar March, 2017.

Rene Gedaly, HAS President

The WSIG will be starting a class on observing the HAS Texas 45. This class is open to all members of HAS but RSVPs are required. Our homegrown observing program is held at the Dark Site and is totally accessible to the novice observer who’s got a few rudimentary skills. For instance, at the Novice Observing Labs you’ve been learning the constellations for each season—ditto for Novice talks at UH—and at the Novice Telescope Lab, you’ve learned the basics of telescope operation.

My newbie test case, who has attended neither yet, completed 8 of 10 required objects on the winter list her first night out using only binoculars, the observatory 12.5" f/5 telescope, and a planisphere. With a little guidance, you can do it, too. Watch the website for details or send questions to Texas45@astronomyhouston.org.

The Novice Telescope Lab last month reported a full complement of attendees with four on the waiting list. The next class is 7-8:30 pm April 11, 2017 at the Mendenhall Community Center. Watch Netslyder, our email list, for the notice about making your RSVP.

Did you work on the new Women's & Family Bunkhouse? We're planning a big open house and the Prez wants to acknowledge you publicly. Please let me know if you helped, whether nailing, mudding, designing or schlepping. I've got some pictures with plenty of people helping throughout the last year but I don't recognize all of you by name. Don't be bashful. Let me know who you are at president@astronomyhouston.org.

The first class of the new observatory training was a huge success with twelve members attending and everyone passed! Speaking of passing, you have done your online site training, haven't you? The gate code is changing March 4, yikes. I know, I know, you haven't taken a test in 30 years and that was with paper and pencil. But really, it's an easy quiz and you get to miss two of ten and still pass. Lots going on at the dark site. You don’t want to miss it.

Students in observatory training

Shallow Sky Object: 55 Eridani – Double Star

Original article appears in GuideStar March, 2017.

by Bill Pellerin
55 Eridani, a double star
Object: 55 Eridani, SAO131443, STF590
Class: Double Star
Constellation: Eridanus
Magnitude: 5.98 (6.7, 6.8)
R.A.: 4 h, 43 m, 35 s
Dec: -8° 47’ 40”
Size/Spectral: F4
Separation/PA: 9.2 arc seconds; 317 degrees
Distance: 406 ly
Optics needed: A small telescope

If you’re a reader of Astronomy magazine you may have run across Glenn Chaple’s article in the March, 2017 issue called “Double star marathon redux”. The idea is to create a double star marathon list to complement the Messier list. Most of us know that in March it’s possible to see all the Messier objects in a single night. If a Messier marathon isn’t enough for you, try the double-star marathon. (Information on how to get the list is in the article, or just email Glenn at gchaple@hotmail. com.)

The Messier list is 110 objects, and the double star list is 110 double stars. Any chance you could complete them both in a single night?

There’s not much that can compete with double stars for observing opportunities.

  • They’re often bright pairs
  • Visible even in light polluted skies
  • They don’t require large optics (but do require good optics)

The star pair that I’ve chosen from Glenn’s list is a good one in that it is relatively bright, the stars are within .1 magnitude of each other, and the separation is large enough that even modest telescopes will split it easily.


Renew Your Membership in HAS

HAS annual membership period is from Jan 1 to Dec 31. With the advent of the New Year – its time for you to renew your membership for 2017!!!! 

 As a renewing member you will continue to be part of one of the most active astronomy clubs in Texas and continue to have access to our member benefits including:

  • Supporting our active outreach programs which show the night sky to school children and the public, and encourages interest in STEM activities
  • Our safe - controlled access dark sky observing site in Columbus
  • Active Novice Astronomer programs including Nite Sky Labs at our Dark Sky site which teach you how to use your telescope and navigate the night sky
  • Our growing library of online videos of presentations of interest to both Novice and Seasoned Astronomers alike
  • Being part of the most fun Astronomy club in Texas!

As always there are three ways to renew your membership:

  • Pay online with PayPal - Login to your account at http://www.astronomyhouston.org/members/renew.  We greatly appreciate if you pay by PayPal because it automates the process.  With over 600 members, it saves us a lot of work.
  • Pay using cash or check at a monthly meeting.
  • Mail a check the old-fashioned way to Treasurer, Houston Astronomical Society, PO Box 800564, Houston, TX 77280.

Dues amounts:

  • Regular - $36/year
  • Associate - $6 (lives at same address as regular member)
  • Student - $12 (full-time student)
  • Sustaining - $50 or more (if you want to give a little extra to keep the club strong)

We hope that you will continue to support HAS and look forward to seeing you at our next meeting or event at the Columbus dark sky site!

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