President's Message

Original article appears in GuideStar February, 2016.

by Rene Gedaly

Light pollution and the backyard observer

If you’re a member of the HAS Facebook group or subscribe to our email list, you know Debbie Moran is fighting city hall about installing super bright LED street lights all over Houston. At the Novice session this month, I’ll be covering the light pollution problem from a different perspective, that of the backyard astronomer. As Debbie says, every self-respecting amateur astronomer should know the basics. I’ll introduce those and also give you some pointers on how to keep observing through the haze.

Incidentally, the HAS email list so many of us use is generously hosted by our own Mark Holdsworth, president of Mark Frederick & Associates. He’s also the HAS Secretary.

Check out a telescope from the Houston Public Library

If you've been following along, you know HAS is the recipient of one of the astronomical league library telescopes donated by the Horkheimer Foundation for use by the public. We filled out a form, got the scope in the mail, made a few mods, and gave it to the Houston Public library. Well, it was a little more involved than that and more interesting, too. Be sure to see Bill Pellerin's article in this GuideStar for the whole story. Thank you, Bill. And a special thanks to Bram Weisman who outfitted the scope.

No conflicting meeting dates with holidays this year

Jessica Kingsley

Last year was truly one off. We had several schedule conflicts with holidays that many of our members observe. This year we find no such troubles. That is, unless you're a UH student. Friday night exams are scheduled for both Good Friday and Passover this year. As amateur astronomers, we're well aware of the vagaries of the lunar calendar on which many Judeo-Christian holidays are based; we just haven't met up with the attendant schedule conflicts lately. If you're a planner, all remaining meetings adhere to the 1st Friday schedule. Now, if we could just be assured of our meeting rooms.

Meetings held at UH in Bldg S&R1—unless they’re not

UH is busting at the seams and we are occasionally not assured of our 1st Friday night meeting location. As always, professors have first claim on rooms. Before leaving for the Friday meeting, check the website to see if there's been a room change. Not to worry if so. As we did in January, folks will be on hand to direct you to the new location.

Speaking of which, last year the board approved an ad hoc committee to investigate an alternate meeting venue, just in case. We won't spring this on you; in fact, hopefully a new location won't be necessary. Many commented on how nice the digs were at the UH Agnes Arnold Auditorium.

The 2016 leadership meeting

Pretty boring stuff. That unexpected comment took me aback and then made me smile. It was made at this year’s leadership retreat by an active member who decided to check out a board meeting but who evidently didn’t know what he was in for.

As for me, I was thrilled by the plans our talented committee chairs came up with this year. Still, I couldn’t help but sympathize with this member.

There’s a line from the movie Good Morning Vietnam in which a disheartened army clerk says “I live to collate.”

It does take a fair amount of administrivia to fund and run our programs. But they’re a lot of fun and make it all worthwhile.

Take two examples: Urban Observing at the George Bush Park and the new Novice Lab at the Dark Site in Columbus. Okay, a third, the Outreach events springing up all over greater Houston. There is a bit of tedious stuff that must get done by folks who’d rather be observing. Somehow, our leadership team finds the time and will to do it all.

Thank you.

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