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.

March 03, 2017: March Meeting: Inspiring Lifelong Learners

Novice Meeting: 7:00PM
General Meeting: 8:00PM
General Meeting Topic: 
Inspiring Lifelong Learners
General Meeting Speaker: 
Amy Jackson, Starry Sky Austin
About the General Meeting Presentation

Amy Jackson

What draws people into wanting to learn astronomy? And, more importantly, what can we do to keep them learning? Amy will discuss her personal experience teaching astronomy informally to children and adults and her recently published children's book about the night sky.

Amy is the founder and director of Starry Sky Austin. Amy attended the University of Houston where she earned her Bachelor of Physics. There she learned about astronomy and helped to re-open the University of Houston observatory. After graduating from UH she attended Rice University and graduated with a Master of Science Teaching degree and her Texas Teaching Certificate in Science grades 4-8. She taught at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, in private and public schools. A mother of 3, Amy has years of experience teaching and working with the public. She has spent the past decade following her passion by inspiring Austin and the surrounding communities with hands-on astronomy classes and has recently published a children's book about the night sky. She is also currently employed as an astronomy educator at Travis County Milton Reimers Ranch Observatory.

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

President’s letter

by Rene Gedaly

EXEMPLARY SERVICE 2016 Presidents Exemplary Service Award to Mike Edstrom

If you were with us in January, you know what a difficult decision I had choosing one person only to receive my annual exemplary service award. It was an outstanding year for HAS with an inspired team of volunteers; I was both proud and humbled to award each leader a certificate at the meeting.

Netizens know about the transformation going on at the HAS Observatory and Dark Site. While Mike is the first to tell you about all the dedicated members it takes to run the place—much less improve it—this time I wasn't going to let him get away with giving away all the credit. Mike Edstrom, Observatory Director, is the recipient of the 2016 President's Exemplary Service Award in recognition of his inspired leadership transforming the Houston Astronomical Society Observatory and Dark-sky Site. Congratulations, Mike. My sincere thanks.

Karla in the chart roomHAS INTERN

Karla Pale (pronounced Pah-lay) is a new student member and high school senior who's enamored of astronomy. She's also our first official intern at HAS. Karla and I spent three 24-hr days at the observatory recently where she learned to operate the f/5 and C-14 telescopes in the evenings and during the day researched the literature for her senior paper on the indirect detection of dark matter.

She'll join the science fair winners at the June membership meeting to give a talk on her findings. A big thanks to Chris Ober and Jack MacDonough for getting the new mount and software ready for the C-14. What a special use of the observatory. And I finally ran across someone else who giggles looking at the moon.

Shallow Sky Object of the Month: Aldebaran – The Eye of the Bull

Original article appears in GuideStar January, 2017.

Moon Occults Aldebaranby Bill Pellerin

Object: Aldebaran (SAO 94027)
Class: Orange giant star
Constellation: Taurus
Magnitude: .87
R.A.: 04 h, 35 m, 55 s Dec: 16° 30’ 30”
Size/Spectral: K5 (4100k temperature)
Distance: 65 ly
Optics needed: Unaided eye

Aldebaran is close enough to the ecliptic that there are times when the Moon occults (moves in front of) the star. There’s an occultation of Aldebaran on March 4, 2017 beginning at 7:53:22.9 Central time and ending on March 5, at 00:04:50.5 Central time. For this occultation, the Moon will be at first quarter. This is a long duration occultation because the star goes almost directly behind the moon.

Usually, when a star is occulted by the Moon it simply winks out. It’s there one instant and in the next instant it’s not there. Aldebaran is .02 arc-seconds on the sky and has been reported by observers to not wink out in the same way that other stars do, perhaps taking as much as .02 seconds to disappear. Can you see this?

In the finder chart associated with this article, note that the ecliptic (blue line) is north of Aldebaran. As we all know, the Moon’s path through the sky is close to, but not on the ecliptic...

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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