Welcome to Houston Astronomical Society

Founded in 1955, Houston Astronomical Society is an active community of enthusiastic amateur and professional astronomers with over 60 years of history in the Houston area. Through education and outreach, our programs promote science literacy and astronomy awareness. We meet via Zoom the first Friday of each month for the General Membership Meeting and the first Thursday of the month for the Novice Meeting. Membership has a variety of benefits, including access to a secure dark site west of Houston, a telescope loaner program, and much more. Joining is simple; you can sign up online, by mail or in person at a monthly meeting.

Notice of election to fill vacant Director seat at August meeting

After much deliberation and thought, Director at Large Ed Fraini has tendered his resignation from the Houston Astronomical Society so that he can focus on improving his health.  I wish Ed well with his recovery and thank him for his many years of service to the club.  Ed's thoughtfulness and wisdom will be missed at our board meetings, but he has promised to remain a fixture at our General meetings and at the dark site.  Good luck and continued progression toward your recovery, Ed!

Ed has spoken to Don Selle, who has graciously offered to step in to fill the role, pending an election by the Membership.  Our bylaws require at least 15 days notice of said election, so we will conduct the election to fill this vacancy at our August 6 General meeting.  This post  will serve as formal notification to the Membership.

Joe Khalaf

President – Houston Astronomical Society

August 05, 2021, 7:00PM: Novice Presentation- Via Zoom

"The Giants: Observing Jupiter and Saturn
at Opposition." 

by Debbie Moran

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Many amateur and even professional astronomers will tell you that they became “hooked” on astronomy after the first time they observed either Saturn or Jupiter through a telescope. As awesome as theses first observations can be, both of these huge planets are captivating when observed over and over again.

 August is a big month for the gas giant planets. Both are at opposition during the month, Saturn will be at opposition on August 2nd, and Jupiter on August 19th, when observing them is typically as good as it gets.

Novice Chairperson Debbie Moran will take us on a tour of both planets and tell us what to expect, and how to get the most out of your observation of these true gems of the night sky.

August 06, 2021, 7:00PM: August Membership Meeting - Via Zoom

 

Alien Oceans on Earth and Beyond

Dr. Kevin Peter Hand

Planetary Scientist/Astrobiologist

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Caltech

Where is the best place to find living life beyond Earth? It may be that the small, ice-covered moons of Jupiter and Saturn harbor some of the most habitable real estate in our Solar System. Life loves liquid water and these moons have lots of it. These alien oceans of the outer solar system have likely persisted for much of the history of the solar system and as a result they are highly compelling targets in our search for life beyond Earth.

AP Corner - July 2021

Plan Your Imaging

By: Don Selle

 

 

“Fail to plan, plan to fail” is an old adage that applies very well to most activities but especially well to astrophotography. Dark time in the field is a precious commodity and it can be very easily wasted. When you finally get all the equipment working together, and learn to avoid the operator errors, you will find having a plan and working it will help you make the most of your time under the stars.

You should know what objects you plan to image, and how you are going to image them (framing, exposure time, sequence of exposures, etc.) before you leave for your favorite dark site. Here are a few ideas for developing your plan that can help make your dark time more productive.

Field of View - July 2021

Astronomy and Learning

By: Don Sell -Guidestar Editor

 

When you take up astronomy as a hobby, it is almost inevitable that you will start out on a path that will keep you learning for as long as you wish to follow it. When you think about it, this is a very reasonable thing. Astronomy is, after all, the oldest of the sciences, maybe as old as humanity itself.

NASA Partner Article - July 2021

Title: Night Sky Network logo - Description: Logo for the NASA Nigth SKy Network featruing an adult pointing upwards at the night sky as a child observes with a telescope.This article is distributed by NASA Night Sky Network

The Night Sky Network program supports astronomy clubs across the USA dedicated to astronomy outreach. Visit nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov to find local clubs, events, and more!

Observe the Milky Way and Great Rift

David Prosper

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The Great Rift is shown in more detail in this photo of a portion of the Milky Way along with the bright stars of the Summer Triangle. You can see why it is also called the “Dark Rift.” Credit: NASA / A.Fujii

Summer skies bring glorious views of our own Milky Way galaxy to observers blessed with dark skies. For many city dwellers, their first sight of the Milky Way comes during trips to rural areas - so if you are traveling away from city lights, do yourself a favor and look up!

Beginner’s Guide: A Mid-summer Swim Up the Milky Way

By William Sager

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I look forward to mid-summer observing each year. Is it the epic dews of humid summer nights? The sweat dripping on my eyepieces? The hordes of mosquitos buzzing around my head? No. No. And (unprintable) no!

Summer observing brings the pleasures of surfing through the center of the galaxy. It is a delight for novices and old salts (remember the sweating) alike. In this article, I will take a brief look at some of the main attractions of this region, focused on what a novice can see with binoculars or a small scope.

This is a region chock full of nebulas, clusters, and globulars. Even an experienced observer can get lost in the star clouds until dawn. Although the finder charts given here may be helpful, I recommend a book with good star charts as guides. My favorite is the Sky and Telescope Pocket Sky Atlas Jumbo Edition by Roger W. Sinnott. Yes, the Jumbo Edition of a pocket atlas is an oxymoron.

Shallow Sky Object - 100 Her—A Matching Double Star

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.

Asterisms – Herman’s Cross

By: Steve Goldberg

Asterism: a grouping of stars that form a recognizable pattern.

Constellation: Sagittarius
Right Ascension:  20h 00m 00.0s
Declination: -27° 00' 00"
Magnitude: 4
Size: 2 degrees                 

This binocular or finder size asterism in Sagittarius looks like its name:  a cross. It is located in Sagittarius, halfway between the Tea Pot and Capricorn.

 

 

The asterism is made of the 4 stars: Omega, 59, 62, and 60. The outer circle is a typical finder view.  The small inner circle is a 48x low power eyepiece. So this is definitely a finder object.

This asterism is on the Astronomical League’s Asterism Observing Program. You can read about the naming of Herman’s Cross here.

 

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