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.

BYOT - Bring Your Own Telescope to the Mendenhall Center

Did you get a telescope for the holidays and are wondering how to get started with it? Have a telescope in the closet just collecting dust for some time now? Or maybe you want to get a telescope but don't know exactly where to start. Then come out to the Trini Mendenhall Community Center on Saturday, March 24 to learn more!

Members of the Houston Astronomical Society (H.A.S.) will be on hand to help you understand the different types of telescopes available to most amateur astronomers, as well as the accessories to consider equipping your telescope with. Once you've seen the overview, a H.A.S. volunteer will help you with set up and basic operation of your telescope. If you don't have a telescope, don't fret - we'll also have several models available for show-and-tell so that you can see them in person before deciding to buy one!

Things we'll go over:

  • Different types of telescopes available to amateurs
  • Accessories that make using a telescope easier/better
  • How to set up and operate your telescope (must bring your own telescope and all accessories)
  • Where to observe in and around the Houston area
  • And more...

This is a free event, but space is limited. Please RSVP to outreach@astronomyhouston.org to reserve your spot. We have two sessions - 12:30pm - 2:00pm and 2:30pm - 4:00pm, so indicate which session you'd like to attend when RSVPing. Also, if you're bringing your own telescope, please remember to bring all accessories, cables, eyepieces, power supplies, and anything else that came with it.  This event is open to HAS members as well as the public.

President's Letter - Photon Starved! Now What?

It really doesn’t matter whether you are a new astronomer who got a cool new telescope for Christmas (though it might make you the target of blame) or if you are a seasoned observer with more telescopes in your collection than you can count. By now you are getting frustrated with the weather!

Since before the New Moon in December, south east Texas has had only a few brief periods, measured in hours (not nights) that were clear enough to do astronomy. We call this condition being PHOTON STARVED!

Photon Starvation Syndrome occurs when an individual who has been regularly exposed to concentrated ancient photons (described as any photons having spent more than 8 minutes traversing outer space) is continually and rudely cut off from their source – a clear night sky. Symptoms include frequent checking of the hourly and 10-day weather forecast, repetitive and enthusiastic setup of one’s astronomy equipment followed by a frustrated take down of it only a few hours later, and involuntarily kicking the dirt while gazing disappointedly at the night sky. While uncomfortable to the individual, the toll on the sufferer’s family is much higher as they must cope with bouts of erratic behavior, emotional outbursts, and overall general grumpiness of their afflicted loved one. 

click read more

Asterisms – “A” Asterism

by Steve Goldberg

Asterism: A grouping of stars that form a recognizable pattern.
Constellation: Sextans
Right Ascension: 10 h, 20 m 10s
Declination: 03o 06’ 20”
Magnitude:  10
Size: 15’ (minutes)

This grouping of 5 stars is called the “A Asterism”. It was named by Houston Astronomical Society member Bram Weisman. It is located in Sextans, between Regulus Alpha α in Leo and Alpha α Hydra.


It is located at the “point” of a triangle formed with stars Alpha α and Beta β Sextans.


The letter “A” is very distinctive. The magnification in this view is 48x.

This asterism is recognized by the Astronomical League in their Asterism Observing Program. Information about that AL program can be found here:   Asterism Observing Program

Bram wrote a “discovery” article in the May, 2017 Guidestar. You can see the Guidestar article here.


Skynet Junior Scholars - A new program for high-school aged kids

The Houston Astronomical Society and Bellaire High School are collaborating on a cool project called “Skynet Junior Scholars” where high-school aged amateur astronomers will be able to remotely control research-grade telescopes and collaborate on research projects.

In Skynet Junior Scholars (SJS), kids study the Universe using the same tools as professional astronomers. With SJS, you get to BE the astronomer. You will feel great when you command a robotic telescope to take a picture of YOUR object!

With just an internet connection, Skynet Junior Scholars gives you:

  • Access to world-class optical and radio telescopes.
  • An image gallery to share pictures and publish results.
  • Communication with astronomers and engineers.

Each meeting, you’ll:

  • Explore the Solar System, Milky Way Galaxy and the Universe!
  • Earn digital badges as you gain expertise.
  • Collaborate on big projects with other Scholars.
  • Learn astronomy with fun hands-on activities.
  • Design your own investigations!

To learn more about SJS, visit:


Amateur Astronomer Discovers Lost Satellite is Still Alive and Transmitting

Amateur Visual and Radio Astronomer Scott Tilley recently found a NASA Satellite (IMAGE) that was considered dead, to be alive and possbily transmitting useful data.  This is a shining example of how varied Amateur Astronomy activities can be, and that our hobby can produce useful work which is valued by the professional community.

Read about this exciting work, with commentary from mission collaborator and Houstonian Dr. Patricia Reiff (Rice University) at the link.


Super Blue Blood Moon…HUH?!?!

As astronomy enthusiasts, we are used to seeing and hearing about space-related events in the news in terms that are meant to “wow” the public, but may otherwise be misleading.  Inevitably, we're asked by family members and friends about these events, and often, the response I give is "huh?”.

My introduction to the supermoon was no different...

The first time I heard about a "supermoon" was only a few years ago.  2016, perhaps.  Someone had asked me if I was going to take my telescope out to observe the supermoon, and what I thought was going to happen to the earth because of this suddenly massive moon that we'd have.  “Do you think the supermoon is going to cause extremely high tides that’ll flood parts of Houston?”

"Huh?" I replied.  I didn't know what to say, other than to tell this person it won't be any different than anything else we've already seen.

Of course, when I got home, I quickly jumped on my computer and googled "supermoon."  After reading about it, I thought, "oh, that's all it is?  A full moon that's at or near the closest point in its orbit?”  Since the moon's orbit around the earth isn't a perfect circle, there is a point on that orbit where the moon is closest to the earth, and another point where it is furthest.  We label the closest point on that orbit around the earth perigee, and the furthest point is known as apogee.  The same terms hold true for earth-orbiting satellites, as well.

Click read more button

2017 Was a Great Year for Astronomy - Look Out - Here Comes 2018!

2017 was a great year for astronomy.  In its last issue of every year, Science News picks its 10 best science stories of the year, and three of them were about astronomy.  In first place was the history-making observation of the binary neutron star collision in galaxy NGC 4993, about 130 million light years from earth. This detection ushered in a new era of “multi-messenger” astronomy.

This collision was first detected by the two LIGO gravity wave observatories in the USA and the Virgo observatory near Pisa Italy. It was detected 1.7 seconds later as a gamma-ray burst by observatory satellites in earth orbit. Over the next several weeks, the “kilonova” the collision spawned was observed in every frequency of electromagnetic radiation, from x-rays to radio waves. The observations absorbed an estimated 15% of global observatory time, and almost 4,000 astronomers, physicists, and astrophysicists were involved in the observations and their analysis.

You can read more about this merger of neutron stars here https://www.ligo.org/science/Publication-GW170817MMA/flyer.pdf and see a NASA video simulation of the merger here: https://youtu.be/x_Akn8fUBeQ

2017 was a banner year for HAS too. During the year, our Outreach Program achieved new highs in the number of events we covered and the number of our members who volunteered to share their love of astronomy with the public. Under the leadership of Joe Khalaf, we also provided the public with the opportunity to observe the night sky by partnering with the Lunar and Planetary Institute for “Observe the Moon Night”, organized a meteor shower party at a nearby state park, and set up telescopes at some unconventional venues such as a music festival, a corporate event on Discovery Green and at an iconic Houston film festival.  We also showed the partial eclipse to well over 300 people who might not otherwise have had the opportunity… click read more button

Time To Renew Your Membership

Its also time to RENEW YOUR HAS MEMBERSHIP so you can take your 2018 Dark Site Training and get the new gate code before it changes on March 3rd!

HAS memberships run from 1 January to December 31. Fortunately, renewing your membership is fast and easy!

HAS Online Store

Get Connected!

HAS has begun using RainedOut, a text message service, to communicate late-breaking news about events. Click here to learn more and subscribe!

Night Sky Network