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.

September 02, 2016: What Astronomers Need to Know About Nothing

Novice Meeting: 7:00PM
Novice Meeting Topic: 
The Telescope Loaner Program
Novice Meeting Speaker: 
Allen Wilkerson, Telescope Chairperson
General Meeting: 8:00PM
General Meeting Topic: 
What Astronomers Need to Know About Nothing
General Meeting Speaker: 
Don Selle, Treasurer
About the General Meeting Presentation


To many amateur astronomers, space is the volume between the stars and other deep sky objects we love to observe which has nothing in it. It turns out that this is only mostly correct, as there is a very tiny amount of stuff in interstellar space. But the stuff that is there has had a profound effect on how we view the universe, and is hugely important to the evolution of our galaxy and even of life itself. 

Come take a brief tour of our home galaxy and as we travel we'll explore the (almost) nothing that is the interstellar medium.

At the Novice session

In September, Allen Wilkerson will tell you everything you need to know about the HAS Loaner Telescope Program. The HAS has a number of telescopes that have been donated over the years for the purpose of loaning out to the membership after you have been a member for a short time. Allen will tell you about these telescopes, which ones are easiest to use for novices, how to care for them and how to go about borrowing one. The Society depends upon responsible use of the program in order to be able to continue making this fantastic benefit available to members. We recommend to everyone that they take a look at the various telescopes at star parties before making a decision on buying their first telescope.

At the end of the presentation, our president Rene Gedaly will talk a bit about the Texas 45, an observing list she designed to be completed at our dark site.

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

September 03, 2016, 8:00AM: Bunkhouse Work Party

8-27-16 WP.jpg


The roof is on THANKS to Bill K shown here with a hand up from Allen W. Now it’s time to take it inside. Members, RSVP to Mike E if you can make it. Says Mike:

This Saturday at 8 am we will start working inside WITH AIR CONDITIONING!!!  We will be installing insulation in the walls and ceiling so you will need caps, gloves and long sleeved shirts also if you have a staple gun and razorblade knife would help, we have a few staple guns and will provide breathing masks.

President’s letter

Original article appears in GuideStar August, 2016.

by Rene Gedaly

We want YOU on the 2017 Membership team!
Want to meet more of your fellow members? Be one of the next smiling faces at the membership table for 2017! We'd like to get a group of three or four together who can take turns greeting folks at the badge table. Contact Ed Fraini at vp@astronomyhouston.org for more.

We won! Horkheimer/O'Meara Journalism Award
HAS student member Clay Parenti won the Astronomical League's Horkheimer/O'Meara Journalism Award with his essay on “Finding the Cosmic Order: The Story of Kepler’s Laws of Motion.” His award will be announced in the September Reflector. Congrats, Clay!

Establishing youth group membership
Youth and school groups continue to find us on the web and we welcome them as the potential new members they are. It's a big enough uptick in requests, though, that it's time investigate creating a new membership category. Education & Outreach Co-chairs Joe Khalaf and Debbie Moran are on it.

Sharing Science with Any Audience
In the same vein, it may be time to develop mutually beneficial relationships with other groups in the community. The leadership team has identified a short list of community, policy, and media groups for me to target at the Sharing Science with Any Audience workshop at Texas A&M this month ...

Shallow Sky Object of the Month: P CYG – Luminous blue variable

Original article appears in GuideStar August, 2016.

By Bill Pellerin

Object:  P Cyg
Class: Luminous Blue Variable
Constellation:  Cyg
Magnitude:  4.8
R.A.:    20 h, 17 m,  47 s
DEC:    38°  01’ 59”
Size/Spectral:  B1
Distance:  6500 +/- ly
Optics needed: A small telescope to pick this star out in a crowded field.
This star has a Bayer designation, ‘P’, but, as is often the case, the star is a variable but it retains its Bayer name. The naming convention for variable stars is different; the first variable in a constellation is typically called ‘R’. You can also find P Cyg using the following catalog names: SAO 069773 or HD 193237. Not much attention has historically been directed to a 5th magnitude star in a crowded field of stars, but in the year 1600 the star had the audacity to brighten to about 3rd magnitude, six times brighter than it was, and now is, at 5th magnitude. Over the time that this star was observed it brightened and dimmed a few more times. If you look at the data on the star today (AAVSO.org) you’ll find that it has dimmed and brightened (over a period of a few days) by a fraction of magnitude, hard to detect visually, but easy to detect photometrically ...

Observatory Corner

Original article appears in GuideStar August, 2016.

by Mike Edstrom

STELLAR SUMMER ACTIVITIES The sides of the new bunkhouse are all in place, a few of the roof rafters are left to put up, great progress is being made.  We look forward to completely enclosing the bunkhouse so we can install the air conditioners and work in a cooler place, more to come.

It was a very busy late June and early July at the Dark Site; you should have seen Rene’s article about the Girl Scouts visiting on June 24th and 25th. Then on June 30th and July 1st we hosted a group of 22 7th to 10th grade students and 7 chaperones from Eddie V. Grey Wetlands Center in Baytown, TX. We had several HAS members: Rene Gedaly, Allen Wilkerson, Ed Fraini, Don Selle, Steve and Amelia Goldberg, Brain Cudnik and myself using the three observatory scopes, Allen’s Meade, Ed’s dob, Amelia’s dob and my observatory to show them planets and several Messier objects once the clouds cleared. I was very impressed as the students stayed up very late as many of them just laid on the ground in the observatory parking lot looking up and said they had never seen so many stars. It made the effort we all put into the evening worthwhile ...

Star Party with Students from Western Academy

On Saturday July 30, we hosted a group of students from the Western Academy at the Dark Site. Western Academy is a liberal arts school that favors the sciences. There were 10 boys ranging in age from 7 to 13, two teachers, one assistant principal and 2 parents. They also brought 2 Celestron telescopes that the school owns.

The students were very interested in astronomy and knowledgeable for their age. They were at the site from 8PM to 10PM. Before sunset they were shown Jupiter, Mars and Saturn. After it got dark they were shown objects: M57, Albireo, Polaris, Dumbbell and several bright objects in the Milky Way.

I would like to thank Amelia Goldberg, Don Selle, Mike Edstrom and Stephen Jones for helping with the students.

Steve Goldberg

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