President's Letter - March 2019

HAS - Theres a Whole Lot Going On!

We are already well into the new year and a lot is happening around HAS.  Your Leadership Team is busy working on new programs and events which should enhance your HAS experience regardless of what the weather does!

We are always working to find new ways to add value to your HAS membership, and to fulfill our Mission. Here are a few of the new programs and training opportunities your Leadership Team is putting together for you.

New Astronomer Training

There is a lot to learn and experience when getting started in Amateur Astronomy. In addition to learning about telescopes and how to use them, a New Astronomer needs to learn how to navigate the sky to find objects, how to observe and log them. HAS has several programs to help you learn these skills.

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  • Loaner Scope Training – every other month, Allen Wilkerson our Loaner Scope Coordinator will show you how to assemble, adjust and use several of the loaner scopes available for New Astronomers to borrow and use. Allen will even show you the basics of Sky Navigation, using star charts and star hopping. The next class is scheduled for May 7. See HAS events calendar for details. http://tinyurl.com/y3k7toc2
  • Monthly Novice Presentations – at every monthly HAS meeting, Novice Chairperson Debbie Moran has organized a presentation especially for New Astronomers. These are on subjects of interest to a New Astronomer. On March 1st at 6:30pm Debbie show you how to navigate and find objects in the Spring Sky.
  •  Help others learn while you Gain Experience.  HAS has started a New Closed Facebook Group for our New Astronomers. It was set up to provide a place for New Astronomers to interact with others who are learning and who can share their experience with others. Several “Units” of information specific to using telescopes and observing the night sky have been set up (with more coming) to help you learn.

Moderators will check in and be available to pitch in with advice or answer questions. No question is out of place as long as it relates to amateur astronomy.  The Novice Facebook group is linked to our closed member Group, and can be found under the “About” menu.

As part of this Novice Group – we have also enabled a new Facebook feature called Mentorship. This feature is meant to help pair up New astronomers with those more experienced who volunteer to instruct or give advice on a one on one basis. More to come on this!

Night Lighting Advocacy Committee

To anyone who is interested in looking at the night sky,  whether naked eye on a romantic evening, or through a telescope plumbing the depths of the Milky Way, its pretty obvious that light pollution makes it very difficult to see the night sky. This is a significant problem, but did you know that researchers have determined that improper night lighting has negative effects on human health and stresses various wildlife populations by disrupting their nocturnal patterns?

One of the most important issues that HAS can address is educating the public and our local elected officials about the benefits of proper night lighting.  The HAS Board has voted to establish a Night Lighting Advocacy Committee (NLAC) with Debbie Moran as its Chairperson. For the last several years Debbie has been advocating for proper night lighting in and around Houston. The objective of the NLAC is to train and coordinate new volunteers to help bring back our night skies.

We will be kicking this committee off at our April 5th meeting, where Debbie will be the main speaker and additional members for the committee will be solicited. If you have been wanting to take the steps needed to advocate for reducing light pollution, plan on attending this meeting.

Urban Observing is Back!

Photon starved during the week, but unable to get out to Columbus to observer? No worries – Urban Observing is Back! Urban observing is a great way for New Astronomers to get help with learning how to use their telescopes. The first pop-up star party was held on Sunday 2/24 at Memorial Park.

Joe Khalaf and Craig Lamison were among the experienced hands helping out last Sunday. They are also working on the Astronomical Urban Observing Program which is also a good way to get started observing.

Keep your eyes open for pop-up urban star parties which will be announced via email on [email protected] or on the HAS Facebook Group.

Outreach

Under the direction of Vice President Joe Khalaf, and Daniel Roy who hosts Astronomy in the Park in League City, our astronomy outreach program is humming right along. Joe has recently partnered with Discovery Green in Houston to hold quarterly outreach events in downtown Houston.

Come on out and join an Outreach event – no previous experience necessary! These events are a great way for New Astronomers to get involved and learn new skills while sharing the night sky with the public. I can guarantee that there is nothing like showing the Moon or a planet to a child through a telescope.

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