January 2018

February 02, 2018: February Seminars

Novice Meeting @ 7PM

"Your Address in the Universe" by Debbie Moran

General Meeting @ 8PM

 “New Windows into the Universe: From Cosmic Dawn to Today”
 Professor Kim-Vy Tran - Texas A&M University and University of New South Wales 

About the General Meeting Presentation

Since Galileo's time, our ability to study the universe has been driven by our ability to collect light from distant objects.  Due to tremendous technological advances in the last few decades, we can now study the most distant galaxies known in the universe.  In addition to seeing fainter objects at higher resolution, we can also view the universe at many different wavelengths ranging from gamma rays to radio waves.  I highlight the major advances that have been made with, e.g. the Keck telescopes and Hubble Space Telescope, and discuss why we need to continue pushing our limits by developing and building new observatories like the Giant Magellan Telescope.

Amateur Astronomer Discovers Lost Satellite is Still Alive and Transmitting

Amateur Visual and Radio Astronomer Scott Tilley recently found a NASA Satellite (IMAGE) that was considered dead, to be alive and possbily transmitting useful data.  This is a shining example of how varied Amateur Astronomy activities can be, and that our hobby can produce useful work which is valued by the professional community.

Read about this exciting work, with commentary from mission collaborator and Houstonian Dr. Patricia Reiff (Rice University) at the link.

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Super Blue Blood Moon…HUH?!?!

As astronomy enthusiasts, we are used to seeing and hearing about space-related events in the news in terms that are meant to “wow” the public, but may otherwise be misleading.  Inevitably, we're asked by family members and friends about these events, and often, the response I give is "huh?”.

My introduction to the supermoon was no different...

The first time I heard about a "supermoon" was only a few years ago.  2016, perhaps.  Someone had asked me if I was going to take my telescope out to observe the supermoon, and what I thought was going to happen to the earth because of this suddenly massive moon that we'd have.  “Do you think the supermoon is going to cause extremely high tides that’ll flood parts of Houston?”

"Huh?" I replied.  I didn't know what to say, other than to tell this person it won't be any different than anything else we've already seen.

Of course, when I got home, I quickly jumped on my computer and googled "supermoon."  After reading about it, I thought, "oh, that's all it is?  A full moon that's at or near the closest point in its orbit?”  Since the moon's orbit around the earth isn't a perfect circle, there is a point on that orbit where the moon is closest to the earth, and another point where it is furthest.  We label the closest point on that orbit around the earth perigee, and the furthest point is known as apogee.  The same terms hold true for earth-orbiting satellites, as well.

Click read more button

February 02, 2018: February Membership Meeting

Novice Meeting: 7:00PM
Novice Meeting Topic: 
"Your Address in the Universe"
Novice Meeting Speaker: 
Debbie Moran
General Meeting: 8:00PM
General Meeting Topic: 
`` New Windows into the Universe: From Cosmic Dawn to Today ''
General Meeting Speaker: 
Professor Kim-Vy Tran - Texas A&M University and University of New South Wales
About the General Meeting Presentation
Since Galileo's time, our ability to study the universe has been driven by our ability to collect light from distant objects.  Due to tremendous technological advances in the last few decades, we can now study the most distant galaxies known in the universe.  In addition to seeing fainter objects at higher resolution, we can also view the universe at many different wavelengths ranging from gamma rays to
radio waves.  I highlight the major advances that have been made with, e.g. the Keck telescopes and Hubble Space Telescope, and discuss why we need to continue pushing our limits by developing and building new observatories like the Giant Magellan Telescope.

Biography

Professor Kim-Vy Tran's research focuses on how galaxies form and evolve. To study the properties of galaxies over cosmic time, Dr. Tran combines observations from space-based facilities such as the Hubble Space Telescope and Spitzer Space Telescope with observations from ground-based facilities such as the Magellan (Chile) and the Keck (Hawaii) telescopes. She and her research team connect observations of galaxies in the distant universe to understand how galaxies like our own Milky Way formed.

Parking and Directions (View Map)

Meetings are held in the Science & Research building at the University of Houston Main Campus. The novice meeting is in room 116, the general meeting is in room 117.

NOTE NEW PARKING INFORMATION: Parking is available in lot 15C. Refer to the Google Map below for directions. This parking is available from 6:30 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. on the Friday night of the HAS meeting.

This parking is free. If you get a notice from the UH campus police on the night of the meeting, call the UH Security office and let them know that this area has been made available on HAS meeting night by the Parking Department.


Map to Parking

2017 Was a Great Year for Astronomy - Look Out - Here Comes 2018!

2017 was a great year for astronomy.  In its last issue of every year, Science News picks its 10 best science stories of the year, and three of them were about astronomy.  In first place was the history-making observation of the binary neutron star collision in galaxy NGC 4993, about 130 million light years from earth. This detection ushered in a new era of “multi-messenger” astronomy.

This collision was first detected by the two LIGO gravity wave observatories in the USA and the Virgo observatory near Pisa Italy. It was detected 1.7 seconds later as a gamma-ray burst by observatory satellites in earth orbit. Over the next several weeks, the “kilonova” the collision spawned was observed in every frequency of electromagnetic radiation, from x-rays to radio waves. The observations absorbed an estimated 15% of global observatory time, and almost 4,000 astronomers, physicists, and astrophysicists were involved in the observations and their analysis.

You can read more about this merger of neutron stars here https://www.ligo.org/science/Publication-GW170817MMA/flyer.pdf and see a NASA video simulation of the merger here: https://youtu.be/x_Akn8fUBeQ

2017 was a banner year for HAS too. During the year, our Outreach Program achieved new highs in the number of events we covered and the number of our members who volunteered to share their love of astronomy with the public. Under the leadership of Joe Khalaf, we also provided the public with the opportunity to observe the night sky by partnering with the Lunar and Planetary Institute for “Observe the Moon Night”, organized a meteor shower party at a nearby state park, and set up telescopes at some unconventional venues such as a music festival, a corporate event on Discovery Green and at an iconic Houston film festival.  We also showed the partial eclipse to well over 300 people who might not otherwise have had the opportunity… click read more button

Asterisms – Umbrella

By: Steve Goldberg

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

Constellation: Hydra
Right Ascension:  08h 40m 00.0s
Declination: -12o 30’ 00”
Magnitude: 5 to 8
Size: 1.5 degrees

 

 

This binocular or finder size asterism in Hydra looks just like it sounds, like an umbrella. The Umbrella is located between Sirius, Procyon and Alphard (Alpha) Hydra.

In the center of the circle is star 6 Hydra. Once you locate this star, you can see the shape of the umbrella. The other bright star in the circle is 12 Hydra.

 

In the center is star 6 Hydra and the lower left is 12 Hydra. The circle is approximately 4 degrees in size which is typically a finder size.

 

Here is the outline of the umbrella.

This asterism is on the Astronomical League’s Asterism Observing Program.

 

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