October 2016

President’s Letter

Original article appears in GuideStar November, 2016.

by Rene Gedaly, President

2016 Picnic & Open House

Chef Mario.pngEvery observing pad was filled. So were most of the private observatories. We spilled over toward the south tree line. That must’ve been where the caravan of 20 cars parked. The HAS Observatory was standing room only with lines out the door. The swap meet was in full swing into the first light window. The Women's SIG had a phenomenal turnout and a great time learning the night skies—telescopes and binoculars provided. Overnight camping was so full we should have opened Logan's Cove (more about that next time.) Darth Vader helped me emcee the shout outs to Stephen and Mario. And the food. Yes, the food. Amazing.

Sous Chef Margot.pngThanks to all

This kind of event doesn't just happen. It takes many hands and lots of heart. The Picnic & Open House is an annual event put on by Field Trip & Observing. Somehow chairperson Stephen Jones one-ups himself each year. New this year are Mario & Margot Moreno who served up restaurant quality fajitas and fixings, Steve Munsey who kick started our long-awaited Swap Meet, and Amelia Goldberg, Jayne Lambert, and Andrea Kowalczyk who helped me with the Women’s SIG Telescope & Observing Lab.

Many, many members pitched in. I’m sure to miss a few of you—please let me know who you are; we want to draft you again next year(!) Here’s who I know about:  Bill Kowalczyk, Chris Ober, Ana Taylor, Margot Moreno, Mike Edstrom, Allen Wilkerson, Joel Brewer, Mario Moreno, Steve Munsey, Steve Goldberg, Rob Torrey, Marty Levine, Jessica Jones, Don Taylor, Joe Khalaf, Amelia Goldberg, Melanie Black, Bob Wiesner, Becky Brewer, Don Selle, Mark Ferraz, Andrea Kowalczyk, Ed Fraini, Jayne Lambert, Stephen Jones—and all you wonderful members who brought dessert for the coffee bar at the Dob Shed.

WSIG 2.png


What a fabulous time with some great observing. Some of us got to see the Milky Way for the very first time. There’s more, new members. Much, much more. See you back at the dark site soon.

HAS Facebook group anniversary

Can you believe it? The HAS Facebook group has completed its inaugural year with 180 members and counting. It's the place to be to share astro news, photos, and club gossip. Contact [email protected] and get added to the group.

UH observatory; UH Astronomy Society

Our meeting host, the University of Houston, now has a student astronomy club and a refurbished observatory right on top of the Science & Research 1 building where we meet. Another reason to join the HAS Facebook group is to keep up-to-date with UH Observatory happenings. Or go directly to https://m.facebook.com/UHAstronomy/.


At the Annual Meeting in November: Dr Lisa Whitehead, UH Physics

DrLisaWhitehead.JPGNovember 4, 2016 is the Annual Membership meeting where we elect the incoming leadership team. You also won’t want to miss our annual meeting speaker. This year is Dr. Lisa Whitehead. Says Professor Whitehead

The neutrino is one of the elementary particles which make up the universe. Neutrinos are produced in the fusion reactions inside the sun and other stars, by natural radiation inside the earth, by supernovae, and by charged particles bombarding Earth’s atmosphere.  Despite their abundance, they are difficult to study because they interact very rarely.  I will give an overview of the history of neutrino physics, from the postulation of their existence to last year's Nobel Prize for the discovery of neutrino oscillations, and describe what we hope to learn in the future.

No more info

Saturday Oct 22: Swap Meet, Picnic & Open House


The Annual Picnic & Open House is Saturday, Oct 22, 2016. New this year is an astronomical equipment Swap Meet! .

4:00 - 6:00 p SWAP MEET. Bring your astronomy stuff to trade or sell. RSVP to Steve Munsey
5:15 p sharp! CARAVAN to the dark site from the Wal-Mart parking lot at I-10 exit 696 (across the street from our usual meeting place at the Whataburger)
6:00 - 7:00 p PICNIC. On the menu: beef and chicken fajitas, rice & beans, pico de gallo, corn and flour tortillas, tea and lemonade. Thanks, Mario! RSVP to [email protected].
7:00 - 9:00 p WOMEN’S SIG. You asked for it, Ladies! Learn telescope operating basics for the absolute newbie and find your way around the sky. RSVP to [email protected]
8:00 – ??? OBSERVATORY OPEN HOUSE. Come see the observatory’s three permanent telescopes. A full crew will show you the sky.


And, if you dare, show up in costume! 

This event is for members and their guests only. RSVP to [email protected] if you’ll be eating at the picnic.

No more info

All Hands On Deck Part II - Oct 15th

Oct 2.JPG

In the spirit of completion, we are going to have one more work party ahead of the annual HAS picnic at the site. The club made great progress on the bunkhouse this past weekend. The sheet rock was put up on the ceilings and about half of the walls in the east room. 

The remaining work on the walls and exterior siding will be fairly quick and will set the stage for finishing. My goal is to have our new building "sleep-able" on the night of the HAS picnic. Concrete floors, drywall, and AC/Heat sure beats tent camping in SE TX!

Our VP, Ed, has agreed to lead the team for the last big construction push. Please RSVP your attendance to VP Ed Fraini. Turnout has been awesome and we are hoping for more of the same. We need about 8 folks to work inside and out. Weather should be nice or at least not miserable.

Again, thanks to the membership for making this project possible, and a special thanks to those that have volunteered their time to put things together. We are almost there!

-Bill Kowalczyk

President’s letter

Original article appears in GuideStar October, 2016.

by Rene Gedaly
Don’t blink, members. Lots happening at HAS. 

  • Outreach, Star Parties, and more. Look often at that right vertical banner of the website under UPCOMING EVENTS. Outreach and club events are added often.
  • Have you seen the 2017 slate of candidates for election at the Annual Meeting Nov 4? VP Ed Fraini has hit it out of the park. The slate includes a mix of generations of singular ability and all have a passion for astronomy coupled with a dedication to the Society. This includes your ad hoc committee chairs who are too valuable to risk the vagaries of election.
  • New to the slate for 2017 is Walt Cooney. Earlier this year the AAVSO recognized Walt's discovery of two variable stars observed from his Starry Night Observatory at the HAS Dark Site. Walt brings back to the board a grounding in astronomical research, the science part of our mission to foster the science and art of astronomy for our members and the community. Current leaders running for new positions are Don Selle as VP, Rob Morehead as Secretary, Jessica Kingsley as Treasurer, and Mark Ferraz as a member of the board of directors.
  • If you're new to the club and don't know much about a candidate on the slate, let me suggest you go to astronomyhouston.org and type the candidate's name in the search field. An illustrious bunch.
More info...

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