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.

May 06, 2016: May Membership Seminars

Novice Meeting: 7:00PM
Novice Meeting Topic: 
The Messier Catalogue: May Edition
Novice Meeting Speaker: 
Stephen Jones, Field Trip & Observing Chairperson
General Meeting: 8:00PM
General Meeting Topic: 
The Very Large Array Radio Observatory
General Meeting Speaker: 
Bill Spizziri
About the General Meeting Presentation

In 2010 Bill Spizzirri visited the VLA, a radio observatory in New Mexico
with 27 giant movable antennas. Bill explains what it is, how it works, why it's important.

He’ll also give a bit of radio astronomy history and will show his own up close
photographs & videos as well as videos provided by the 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

Shallow Sky Object of the Month: Stargate Asterism

Original article appears in GuideStar May, 2016.

by Bill Pellerin

Object:  Stargate
Class:  Asterism
Constellation:  Corvus
Magnitude:  6.6 (brightest star)
R.A.:    12 h, 35 m,  59 s
Dec:    -12°  03’ 09”
Size/Spectral:  About 6 arc minutes
Distance:  35.9 ly
Optics needed: Small telescope

The first time I ever heard of the Stargate asterism was when I picked up a copy of John Wagoner’s 2013 observing list at the Texas Star Party. It seems that the asterism was mentioned earlier by the well known observer Philip Harrington in a May, 1998 article in Sky and Telescope magazine. (John may yet be the originator of the name, though.)

That’s not the earliest identification of this star grouping, though. I have written about the Struve dynasty of double (and multiple) stars in the past. In 1832, Otto Struve cataloged the pairs AB, AC, and BC. Additional pairs were cataloged after Otto’s death, but clearly he saw the collection of stars quite early on.

Not all of the stars in this asterism are part of the same physical system, though. That is, the stars are not all the same distance from us.

The Otto Struve catalog designation for this collection is STF 1659. (I always think of STF as being ‘Struve the father’ since subsequent Struve generations continued to catalog multiple star groupings).

You’ll need a magnification of about 100, or slightly higher, to get a good look at this asterism, so pick a telescope/eyepiece combination that provides this. I always use a wide field, low magnification combination to find objects in the sky, then I adjust the magnification as needed to get the best view.

Alright. But what is a ‘Stargate’ anyhow? Are you old enough to remember “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century”? In addition to a feature movie, there was a television series (1979-81). One of the ideas presented in the show was that there existed ‘Stargates’ that allowed travel between star systems. I suppose we think that such travel is facilitated by black holes these days.

By the way, what’s an ‘asterism’? An asterism is a grouping of stars that make a shape that is recognizable or can be associated with a known object. The most famous asterism is the ‘Big Dipper’ part of the constellation Ursa Major (the big bear).

The Stargate asterism is worth a look, easy to see, and a nice object in the sky. Hey, why not do John’s list that includes this object at the TSP this year?

Other favorite asterisms are the ‘Coathanger’ the ‘ET Cluster’ and the ‘Engagement Ring’.

President's Message

Original article appears in GuideStar May, 2016.

by Rene Gedaly

If this isn’t your year to finally go west for the Texas Star Party, I hope you have it on your list. Once you get to one TSP, you’ll likely join the ranks of those who make the yearly pilgrimage; it’s just that good. That doesn’t mean HAS shuts down for TSP week, of course. Your astronomy club is open 24/7 and as usual, has a couple of really good talks in store for this month’s seminars.

Mark Holdsworth, aka Mr. Netslyder, to run May seminars

Duty calls so Mark Holdsworth, HAS Secretary, will be running the May 6 membership seminars—I’ll be at TSP. Stephen Jones, Field Trip & Observing, will talk about the Messier Catalog for this season at the 7 pm novice session. Following the short announcements at 8 pm, astronomical bon vivant Bill Spizzirri will talk about his travels to the Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope.

Astronomy at Liberty High School

The Education & Outreach Team continue to broaden their mission of bringing astronomy education to the community, in this case to Liberty High School, a unique HISD Charter school that offers night classes (4P-10:45P) for 18-26 year old ELL students who are working diligently to earn a high school diploma after work. A special thank you to Ray Gedaly, who spoke to Mr. Moult’s science class about the solar system. Steve & Amelia Goldberg, and Ray & Rene Gedaly, Joe Khalaf and Debbie Moran brought telescopes to show students the moon and Jupiter. Astronomy truly transcends any language barrier.

HAS Women’s SIG make plans at Meet ’n Greet

HAS Women of all ages braved the weather to meet at Amelia Goldberg’s home for the first meeting of the HAS Women’s SIG. We talked about telescope workshops, observing the HAS Texas 45 as a group, the upcoming barn raising of the new bunkhouse, and some exciting possibilities for a December social—this in lieu of our typical meeting during finals week at the University of Houston. At present we’re a group of 17 members but there’s room for you! Contact info@astronomyhouston.org.


In the know...

The Video Team is expanding. Welcome Mario Moreno! Mario will back up Rob Morehead as videographer and is an experienced video editor at Channel 13 TV.

Mike Edstrom and I signed the rental agreement for the last personal observatory lot. Wow. The Observatory & Dark Site is the place to be.

And how ‘bout this? The website saw 101,700 views in 2015. That doesn’t just happen. It takes teamwork and continuity. Thank you Web Technology Team: Heather Houston, Drupal Admin, User Support; Michael Murphy, Front end Developer, Look & Feel; Bill Krahmer, Back end Developer, Programming; and of course, Mark Ferraz, Webmaster and Web Technology Committee Chair. (Hey, where’s the gray hair?)

HAS Dark Site Access

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

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

Need to complete your training? Here's how:

1. Log in to https://www.astronomyhouston.org/
2. Click the "About the Society” tab
3. Click the “Our Observatory” subtab 
4. Scroll down and click the “Start Your Training” button.
    You get 3 tries and pass with an 80%.

See you at the HAS Dark Site Observatory!

Don't miss out ...

Membership has its privileges and a very popular one is access to our recorded presentations. Just ask Videography Chair Rob Morehead. How many thousands of views are we up to now, Rob? It's the best astronomy value anywhere. Join now!

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