December 2017

Observatory Corner

PicnicMike.pngDon’t blink, 5 years can go by very quickly. I have had the privilege to serve as your Observatory Director during this time of great growth at the Columbus Dark Site.

Thanks to so many individuals we have expanded from 2 finished private observatories to 15 with another 9 leased. We have added another bunkhouse, resurfaced the main road, added additional parking, upgraded the electrical outlets on the observing field, upgraded the internet service and added 2 additional trailer spaces.

We have upgraded the observatory with 2 new GOTO mounts and an astrophotography setup for members to use that is dedicated in memory of my predecessor Bob Rogers.

As I go on to serve HAS in another capacity I know I leave the Dark Site in good hands as Chris Ober will take over in January.

With that I want to thank all the HAS members and the HAS Board of Directors for all your support and hard work to make the Dark Site a great place to visit and observe.


Mike Edstrom

January 05, 2018: January Membership Meeting - Astrophotography

Novice Meeting: 6:30PM
Novice Meeting Topic: 
"Learn the Lingo: Astronomy from A to Z."
Novice Meeting Speaker: 
Debbie Moran
General Meeting: 7:15PM
General Meeting Topic: 
DSLR Astrophotography
General Meeting Speaker: 
Robert S. Brayton, CPP Certified Professional Photographer
About the General Meeting Presentation

The magnificent Orion Nebula once again graces the winter night skies.  In this presentation we discuss real-world examples of how to capture the Orion Nebula using a DSLR camera and lenses you may already own.  We will cover what equipment is needed, how to set it up for the best image, what exposure to use, and strategies for efficient capture. Post processing will be covered in a later presentation.

Robert is an astronomer and astrophotographer at the Insperity Observatory, and a regular presenter of astrophotography for the North Houston Astronomy Club.  He is a second generation professional commercial photographer, Certified Professional Photographer, and owner of


Parking and Directions (View Map)

Meetings are held at the Trini Mendenhall Community Center, which is located at 1414 Wirt Rd, Houson, TX 77055.

PARKING INFORMATION: Free parking in the lot in front of the TMCC.

Map to Trini Mendenhall Community Center

President's Letter - 2017 In Review

This is my last letter as HAS President so I’ll keep it simple.

Shown is the text from my 2017 columns fashioned into a star-shaped word cloud. It sums up where we’ve been this past year pretty well, I think.

There’s lots more to come, too. Don Selle, the incoming president, is even now orchestrating a terrific group of talented leaders who will kick things off come January. What new wonders will they have in store for us?

Remember, you’re a part of this too, so join in on the fun.

Rene Gedaly, President
Houston Astronomical Society


Time To Renew Your Membership

Its also time to RENEW YOUR HAS MEMBERSHIP so you can take your 2018 Dark Site Training and get the new gate code before it changes on March 3rd!

HAS memberships run from 1 January to December 31. Fortunately, renewing your membership is fast and easy!

CANCELLED DUE TO CLOUD COVER - Geminid Meteor Shower Star Party

Join the Houston Astronomical Society on Wednesday, December 13, 2017, for a FREE star party.  We’re going to be at Sheldon Lake State Park that night to look for Geminid meteors as they enter the earth’s atmosphere.  The Geminids are one of the best meteor showers of the year, and under ideal conditions, as many as 120 mteors can be seen per hour (skies with more light pollution will cause this number to drop.)

The Geminids are believed to be from debris originating from the asteroid 3200 Phaethon.  As the earth crosses the debris stream, particles slam into the atmosphere at around 22 miles per second!  That’s what creates the “shooting star” streak across the sky.

In addition to meteor hunting, we’ll also have a number of telescopes on hand to look for other deep-sky objects.  Entry to Sheldon Lake State Park is free, and this event is for all age groups.

Bring a chair or blanket to lay on – this will be helpful for staring up at the meteors, as well as bug spray, and a red flashlight, if you have one.  We want to avoid using white light, as to give us a chance to get better adapted to the dark skies.

If you have any questions, email [email protected].  We’ll see you there!



Where to find Geminids (facing ENE on Dec. 13 at 9:00 PM):


Asterisms – “37”, NGC 2169, Collinder 83

By: Steve Goldberg

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

Constellation: Orion
Right Ascension: 06 h, 08 m 25s
Declination: 13o 57’ 54”
Magnitude:  5.9
Size: 6’ (minutes)



The object NGC 2169 is an asterism that looks like the number “37”. It is easily located near the bend of Orion’s out stretched arm, above the star Betelgeuse, near star Xi 70 Ori. 2169 is officially classified as an open cluster with other catalog names of Collinder 83 (CR 83) and OCL 481 (Open Cluster).

The FOV in the second picture is from a 10” Dob with a 15mm eyepiece. A reflecting telescope gives you an upside down image.


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