June 2015

President's Message

Original article appears in GuideStar July, 2015.

by Rene Gedaly

Getting around Greater Houston has never been easy. Increasingly I find myself wishing I could cut my commute time, travel only to the fun stuff, activities like hearing a talk on astronomy, helping with a school star party, or getting to the dark site, scope in tow.

At the HAS meeting

That's why I'm particularly excited that a few of the directors are taking a look at the possibility of meeting remotely, primarily to conduct board business that can’t wait for the next face-to-face meeting. Being able to meet online is mature technology to be sure, think WebEx or Skype. Being able to do so at minimal cost for a good-sized nonprofit is an opportunity begging to be explored.

I've asked Mike Edstrom, who presented the idea, to chair the study team to find out if it could work for us. Bill Pellerin and Scott Mitchell will provide their perspectives and round out the group. We'll have to see what they come up with first, but I’m hoping more of us HAS members will want to join a committee as a result of their findings. With the possibility of committee meetings held online, we can reserve drive time for the fun stuff—getting to a star party, an HAS presentation, or an outreach event.

Cloudy nights won’t interfere with the Pluto flyby on July 14

It's months like these past ones that remind us why we add "armchair astronomy" to our list of interests. If you're into planetary and space science, though, the times have been anything but disappointing. Rosetta’s Philae lander woke up, twice as of this writing. Stunning images of the bright spots on heavily cratered Ceres arrive regularly from NASA’s Dawn probe. And then there’s the New Horizons Pluto Encounter. On its first mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, NASA’s New Horizons space probe will make its closest approach to Pluto on July 14. It’s going to be a media riot and a lot of fun. I know I’ll be watching for Bill Kowalczyk’s space news summaries.

100 Her—A Matching Double Star

Original article appears in GuideStar July, 2015.

by Bill Pellerin, GuideStar editor

Star 100 Hercules

Object: 100 Her, SAO 85753, STF2280
Class: Double Star
Magnitude: 5.8, 5.8, combined 5.79
R.A.:  18 h, 07 m, 50 s
Dec:  26 degrees, 05 minutes, 51 seconds
Distance:  230 ly
Constellation:  Hercules
Spectral: Matching A3V stars
Optics needed: Small Telescope

Why this object is interesting:

One of the challenges of double stars is figuring out what catalog they’re in, what their catalog number is, and what catalog numbers are represented on my map (paper or computer). SkyTools lists eleven catalog designations for this star. TheSky recognizes 100 Her by at least three designations. You should be able to find it by one of the designations given here, and if that fails, you can find it by its RA and DEC.

Note: The August, 2007 GuideStar has another double star in Hercules, 95 Her.

Eta (η) Aquilae

Original article appears in GuideStar June, 2015.

Eta Aquilae

by Bill Pellerin, GuideStar Editor

Object: Eta (η) Aql
Class: Cepheid Variable
Magnitude: 3.5 to 4.3
R.A.: 19 h, 52 m, 29 s
Dec:  01 degrees, 00 minutes, 20 seconds
Distance:  1200 ly
Constellation: Aquila
Spectral: F6 to G (when dimmest)
Optics needed: Binoculars or a small telescope

Why this object is interesting:

Every star has a claim to fame, and Eta Aql’s claim is that it is a bright Cepheid variable star.

Cepheid variable stars have short periods of variation and their period of variation is proportional to its intrinsic brightness. This relationship between period of variability and intrinsic brightness was identified by Henrietta Swan Leavitt working at Harvard in 1908.

Astraea—The Star Maiden

Original article appears in GuideStar June, 2015.

by Amelia Goldberg

Astraea

When I was given this telescope, it was in pretty bad condition and took a lot of work to turn it into a usable telescope. I decided that I wanted it to be a special telescope, one that would attract young girls.  I turned to Greek mythology for a name for the telescope.  I chose Astraea because in Greek mythology, Astraea means “Star Maiden” or “Star Goddess”.  She was believed to be the daughter of Zeus and is said to be the last of the immortal gods to live among humans at the end of the Golden Age.later abandoned earth as the increasing violence and ignorance became too painful for her to bear. When she returned to the heavens, Zeus placed her in the sky as the constellation, Virgo.

I painted the telescope pink to denote that she is female and because most young girls like that color. Using the mythological background of Astraea, I decorated the telescope.  I placed her name on the scope using black letters.  Since little girls love bling, I blinged her up with jewels befitting a goddess. I used black Swarovski crystals to draw the constellation, Virgo, above her name and to draw an imaginary star field around the black words, “The Star Maiden”.  I gave her a necklace of pink crystals.  Astraea is pink and she sparkles.  What more could you ask for?

President’s Message

Original article appears in GuideStar June, 2015.

Omega Centauri Award

by Rene Gedaly, HAS President

HAS Member Awarded TSP Omega Centauri

In case you don't know, the Texas Star Party's Omega Centauri award is given to that person who has most demonstrated dedication to the outreach, promotion, and education of the public in astronomy. It’s a really big deal. There were many fine nominees, but this year's recipient is an in-demand speaker on astronomy in schools and at civic events, a champion defender against light pollution, a lead science fair judge, takes astronomy outreach to a global audience, and is a speaker at TSP, in fact, gave a talk at the first ever TSP AstroLearn Workshop, geared to the novice observer. You guessed it. This year it was my distinct privilege as president of the Houston Astronomical Society to present the 2015 Omega Centauri Award to our own Debbie Moran.

June 05, 2015: Novice & General Membership Meetings

Novice Meeting: 7:00PM
Novice Meeting Topic: 
Astronomy Apps, Web Sites, and Software
Novice Meeting Speaker: 
Don Selle, Bram Weisman
General Meeting: 8:00PM
General Meeting Topic: 
2015 Science Fair Winners and TSP Wrap Up
General Meeting Speaker: 
Students from Greater Houston; Steve Goldberg
About the General Meeting Presentation

   At 7 p.m. in room 117, the Novice session is "Astronomy Apps, Web Sites, and Software" featuring Don Selle on Astroplanner and Bram Weisman on SkyTools.

   At 8 p.m., also in room 117, we will hear from the students who received special division awards from HAS at the 2015 Science Engineering Fair followed by Steve Goldberg and his TSP Wrap Up.

    Our confirmed student speakers are:
        Sanjana RamchandranSolar Flares and the Sunspot Cycle
        Annanya Chaturvedi: Using SOHO
        Joshua GruenerImpact Craters 

Note: There will be no Site Orientation class this month

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 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