November 2012

April 05, 2013: April 2013 Monthly Meeting

Novice Meeting: 6:30PM
Novice Meeting Topic: 
Choosing and Using Binoculars and Telescopes
Novice Meeting Speaker: 
Debbie Moran
General Meeting: 7:15PM
General Meeting Topic: 
The Late Heavy Impact Bombardment and its effect on the Moon and the rest of the Solar System.
General Meeting Speaker: 
David A. Kring, Ph.D., Center for Lunar Science & Exploration
About the General Meeting Presentation

Analyses of samples collected by the Apollo astronauts, augmented with those of lunar meteorites, support an epoch of intense bombardment of the Earth-Moon system about 4 billion years ago. That data, plus a survey of the size distribution of impact craters in the ancient highlands of the Moon, suggest the source of the debris was the asteroid belt. The asteroids appear to have been dynamically excited by shifting orbits among the giant planets. This extraordinary event in the history of the solar system reshaped the surfaces of the terrestrial planets and, intriguingly, immediately preceded the earliest isotopic evidence of life on Earth.

Parking and Directions (View Map)

Meetings are held at the Trini Mendenhall Community Center, which is located at 1414 Wirt Rd, Houson, TX 77055.

PARKING INFORMATION: Free parking in the lot in front of the TMCC.

Map to Trini Mendenhall Community Center

A Cosmic Tease: Trials of the Herschel Space Telescope Science Teams

Original article appears in GuideStar November, 2012.
A Cosmic Tease: Trials TeamsTrials of the Herschel Space Telescope Science TeamsDr. Marc J. Kuchner

Vast fields of marble-sized chunks of ice and rock spun slowly in the darkness this week, and I sat in the back of a grey conference room with white plastic tables spread with papers and laptops. I was sitting in on a meeting of an international team of astronomers gathered to analyze data from the Herschel Infrared Observatory. This telescope, sometimes just called Herschel, orbits the Sun about a million miles from the Earth.

Shallow Sky Object of the Month: AM Her—An X-Ray Star

Original article appears in GuideStar November, 2012.

Get a chart for this star at Enter the star name, and click ‘Create a Finder Chart’. Data for chart above is from the AAVSO web site. North is up, east to the left. Circle is 1 degree.
The following is from the July, 1978 issue of the newsletter of the Houston Astronomical Society provided to me by Steve and Amelia Goldberg. References to various charts in the text were changed here.

The July observing project, like that in June, is a faint but interesting object. The star AM Herculis has been known to be a variable star since 1923. In the past few years however, it has been discovered that AM her is also the x-ray source 3U 1809+50. Recent studies of this interesting object indicate that it is a binary star. The members of the pair include a cool star of about half the diameter and mas of the sun, and a white dwarf with a mass approximately equal to that of the sun. The visual brightness of AM Her varies from ~ 12m when the white dwarf is not eclipsed by the cool star, to fainter than 14m. Because of the absence of the x-rays during the eclipse, these became known as the “on’ condition and the “off” condition. The period of rotation is 03 hours, 05 minutes and 38 seconds, so the “on condition is visible during some portion of every night for observation.

Why the Stars Shine

Original article appears in GuideStar October, 2012.
By Don Selle

“Science is the one human activity that is truly progressive. “ Edwin Powell Hubble

“I can find in my undergraduate classes, bright students who do not know that the stars rise and set at night, or even that the Sun is a star.” -- Carl Sagan

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