January 2015

Shallow Sky Object of the Month: Rigel-Beta Orionis

Original article appears in GuideStar February, 2015.

by Bill Pellerin

Rigel.jpg

Object: Rigel—Beta Orionis
Class: Blue giant star
Magnitude: 0.13
R.A.:  5 h, 14 m, 32 s
Dec:  -8 degrees,  12 minutes, 06 seconds
Distance:  860 ly
Constellation: Orion
Spectral:  B8
Optics needed:  Unaided eye

Why this object is interesting:

The constellation of Orion is a telecope magnet, drawing telescopes to the bright stars and bright nebula it contains. Rigel is probably the second most well known star in the constellation, behind Betelgeuse, and while Rigel is the ‘beta’ star in the constellation it is sometimes brighter than its better known companion.

It’s easy to find, so easy that I considered leaving out the finder chart, and it’s well placed for observers at this time of the year. Rigel transits at 19:46 and sets at 01:33 on the 18th of February, the day of the new moon.

President's Message

Original article appears in GuideStar February, 2015.

by Rene Gedaly

Bad weather finally worked to the amateur astronomer’s advantage last January. Instead of convening at the HAS Observatory, pouring rain allowed 22 members of the leadership team to meet at the home of Debbie Moran for our first annual leadership meeting.

HAS at a glance
Treasurer Don Selle kicked off the meeting with a financial snapshot of our economic health; HAS is in good shape. Webmaster Jeffery McLaughlin pulled back the curtain to show us the inner workings of the website and took enhancement requests, prioritizing them into quick fixes and those for future development. Rob Morehead showed us SlidesLive, the technology he uses to turn video recordings into speaker presentations that he posts on the website. Rob said the presentations have racked up an impressive 1,000 views by HAS members since he started recording just one year ago. And as the committee chairs shared status and vision for their specific areas, the meeting format quickly changed into a high energy discussion of where the society could improve and evolve.

At the Feb 6 meeting ‒ Brian Cudnik: Other Suns, Other Earths

At the February meeting, Brian Cudnik discusses the status of our search for our "home away from home" in another planetary system. This presentation includes a brief introduction to exoplanets, along with some visualization of what they may look like, with an emphasis on Earth-like worlds around other stars.Cudnik shares the latest score on how many planets we have found and highlights some of the most interesting multi-planet systems that the Kepler satellite has found to date.

February 06, 2015: Other Suns, Other Earths ‒ Brian Cudnik

Novice Meeting: 7:00PM
Novice Meeting Topic: 
Observing Jupiter
Novice Meeting Speaker: 
Bill Flanagan
General Meeting: 8:00PM
General Meeting Topic: 
Other Suns, Other Earths
General Meeting Speaker: 
Brian Cudnik
About the General Meeting Presentation

Brian Cudnik discusses the status of our search for our "home away from home" in another planetary system. This presentation includes a brief introduction to exoplanets, along with some visualization of what they may look like, with an emphasis on Earth-like worlds around other stars.Cudnik shares the latest score on how many planets we have found and highlights some of the most interesting multi-planet systems that the Kepler satellite has found to date.

At the Novice meeting:  The February 6th meeting occurs just as Jupiter is reaching opposition or the closest point in its orbit to us. Expert planetary imager Bill Flanagan will speak on “Observing Jupiter” and tell us everything you wanted to know about Jupiter as well as introduce you to what is involved in becoming a good planetary imager.  In the future we will look at having a more detailed talk dedicated to planetary imaging.

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

HAS Facebook Group now live ‒ Join today!

The Houston Astronomical Society now has a Group on Facebook.

Groups are great because you can post news, photos, thoughts, and questions within the confines of our members-only group and with much less clutter.

Here's how to join:

 Not a member of HAS yet? What are you waiting for?

Shallow Sky Object of the Month: Diadem—Alpha Com

Original article appears in GuideStar January, 2015.

The Diadem

by Bill Pellerin, GuideStar editor

Update: The AAVSO has posted a notice on its web site that the eclipse will not happen at the anticipated date and time.

Object: Diadem—Alpha Com
Class: Double Star
Magnitude: 4.32
R.A.: 13 h, 9 m, 59 s
Dec: 17 degrees, 31 minutes, 48 seconds
Distance: 47 ly
Constellation: Coma Berenices
Spectral: F2
Optics needed: Unaided Eye

Why this object is interesting

The name of this star means crown or other ornament representing royalty. In this case the crown is in the constellation Coma Berenices (Berenice’s hair) and this star represents the crown on the head of queen Berenice.

All well and good, but the thing that makes this star interesting to observers is that it is a binary star consisting of two mag 5 stars very near each other and with an orbital period of about 26 years. Remember that orbiting objects orbit around the center of mass of the system, so, in this case it’s more like a dance in the sky than it’s like a low mass object orbiting a high mass object.

President's Message

Original article appears in GuideStar January, 2015.

by Rene Gedaly, HAS president

Thank you for voting in the 2015 leadership team; they’re a dynamic group and you can expect continued great things from them. I’m honored to be the next HAS president, and before talking about plans for 2015, I'd like to reflect on how much has been accomplished during the tenures of my recent predecessors.

The framework for a 21st century society

The new website had its genesis while Ken Miller was president and it continues to transform our organization. Gordon Houston developed a new set of observers through his basic observational astronomy class, a well-attended urban observing program, and his two-minute drill that brought basic astronomy education to the general membership meeting. The scaffolding was now in place for an HAS renaissance.
 

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