When Houston wants to know about astronomy, they contact the Houston Astronomical Society. Below are highlights from an article written by Houston Chronicle reporter Rebecca Hazen. See the full article here: http://tinyurl.com/HASinHoustonChronicle.
There are four astronomy clubs in the Houston area, the largest of them the Houston Astronomical Society, which was founded in 1955. The biggest advantage to joining the Society, according to Publicity Chair Bram Weisman, is that they have a private members-only observatory 90 minutes west of Houston. The site has electricity and running water, which allows people to bring a tent or an RV and stay overnight.
Plus, there are also special interest groups for visual observation, women, and kids within the society.
HAS President Rene Gedaly added "I noticed that while women would attend the lecture meetings at the University of Houston, they didn't often return. From my own past experience, I realized that the main lectures were targeted to the advanced amateur astronomer. We now have programs that show the new amateur astronomer the ropes, helping him or her take the hobby as far as they want to go."
According to Weisman, it is becoming increasingly hard to find good areas with dark skies due to city growth. If your goal is to do deep sky observing, Weisman advises, then you are going to get the best enjoyment on a moonless night. But if you are keen on the moon, “you can enjoy it in an urban environment."
Steve and Amelia Goldberg have been longtime members of HAS since 1977 and 1980. They both became interested in astronomy when they first each saw Saturn in a telescope. The Goldbergs are traveling to the path of totality for the eclipse, as are many other HAS members. "We are actually packing our bags now. We are going to Oregon. To me, it is an emotional experience," Amelia said.
When asked what their favorite part about being in HAS was, Amelia said, "Aside from observing, the outreach that we do. We go to different schools, churches, and Scout troops. We like just sharing our hobby with the public."
Steve continued, "Astronomy is one of the closet hobbies that a lot of people have but don't follow up with. Joining a club is one way to enjoy that interest."
Gedaly added "Tailoring programs to various segments of our wider community has resulted in major growth in the number of people who participate in hands-on astronomy, which we think of as a gateway science to the other STEM fields. Already we see the beginnings of a new type of hobbyist, one based on the use of robotic telescopes and operated from the comfort of one's own home."