My name is Stephen Jones, your friendly neighborhood Field Trip and Observing Chair here in HAS. In the years since I’ve returned to HAS after a long hiatus, one thing I’ve noticed is that when the club gets together at our monthly meetings, there’s just not a whole lot of in-depth talk about observing. We talk about outreach, we talk about equipment, we may talk a LITTLE bit about a very basic observing topic at the Novice meeting, and then at the general meeting we discuss club organizational stuff and have a speaker talking about some astrophysical topic, or some current issue in the hobby, or just about anything other than observing. And yet… observing is at the very core of who we are. The club exists because a bunch of observers came together and decided to organize. The biggest reason beginners join a club like ours is because they bought a telescope, or think they want to buy a telescope, and want some guidance as to how to use it. In short, they are joining us because they want to become OBSERVERS. So, as the member of our leadership team in charge of observing, I have decided to do something about this.
Today I am announcing the creation of the Houston Astronomical Society’s Visual Observing Special Interest Group (VSIG). The VSIG will be a subgroup of the club, open to all members with interest in observing, with its own monthly meetings. These meetings are not intended to replace or be alternatives to the Novice and General meetings, but rather to add to them. The VSIG meetings will be more of a seminar-type format than the General and Novice meetings; instead of one speaker using almost the whole time with a limited time for questions, anyone in the group who wants to discuss their current observing projects or challenges can take a few minutes to present and discuss with the group. Novices joining the group can seek advice with their observing aspirations or questions about issues they’ve already experienced. Any topics about visual observing (that is, eye to eyepiece, NOT astrophotography) are fair game: deep sky observing, planetary observing, double or variable star observing… etc. The VSIG will meet on the third Wednesday of each month at the Trini Mendenhall Community Center, 1414 Wirt Road, at 7 pm. The first meeting will be April 19. Hope to see you there!
Field Trip and Observing Chair