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Ed Fraini


The purpose of the visual challenge object is to encourage visual observation and to help each other improve our observational skills.    This month's target is a small dim globular cluster in Ophiuchus that will take good observational skills.  It will help us reach this goal by comparing our observations. The HAS VSIG would love to hear about your visual observations.  Send them to Ed Fraini at and he will get them posted to the VSIG list server, or just share them to the VSIG list server directly (contact Ed to subscribe to that list also). 

by Don Selle

Guidestar Editor


As I write this, FOV_2020_06.jpgthe state of Texas is in the process of “reopening” from the Corona Virus lock down. What is clear is that while we are far from being out of the woods yet, the situation in Texas was less severe than in other parts of the country and it is slowly improving. We still need to continue our social distancing and sanitary practices, and be very cognizant of the risk of infection.

We are also fortunate that astronomy is an outdoor activity, and that with some restrictions (see the observatory notice in this issue), the HAS Columbus dark site is open for use by our members. The size and arrangement of the observing field ensure that we can maintain our space without too much difficulty. Now if only the weather would cooperate!

I was one of the 20+ members who used the site during the week of May 17th and I can tell you that everyone was conscious of others and practicing good social distancing. It was refreshing (ok maybe restorative is a better word) to get out under the night sky (yes we got a couple of nights)and get some observing in. It was also wonderful to see many friends and even some newer faces out there, even if we had to shout at each other a bit because our chairs were spaced out. Overall, it was enough to ensure me that things will eventually get back to normal again.

Which brings me to my next subject – our HAS December meeting.

Family Observing.jpgAs we approach the halfway point in what’s been a year unlike any I’ve experienced in my lifetime, I’m reminded that, despite all of the changes around us, we’re still doing the best we can with the hands we’re all dealt.  We keep hearing things like “this is the new normal” or “things won’t be back to the way they were for a long time,” which is all true. But human beings are nothing if not resilient, and we tend to take comfort in our routines to compensate for all of the changes we’ve faced for months now.

I mention that to commend all of the people in leadership positions within the Houston Astronomical Society.  Many of them could have essentially shut down and stopped doing what they’ve been doing, but to a person, they’ve all continued with their roles at the Houston Astronomical Society – and have done so admirably.  I’m sure I speak for all of our committee chairs, directors, and volunteers when I say that our club will continue to evolve and adapt to provide our members and our community with an outlet of normalcy in these times.

But, we are all volunteers, and in order to continue providing the services we do, we rely exclusively on the generosity of our members to support the various groups and committees that make H.A.S. tick. And, as I mentioned above, our work hasn’t stopped with the “new normal.”

By: Amelia Goldberg

I recently began a new project designed to get children actively involved in astronomy by observing with their own telescope. My idea is to find old telescopes that might need a little TLC, like a new coat of paint, add on a Telrad or something of that nature. My goal is to find some 6” – 10” telescopes with descent optics at a low cost. Rather than putting money into purchasing scopes, I wanted to spend the money making the telescope a personalized scope for a specific child. The child would choose the color, choose how to decorate it and choose a name for it. I feel this will really make it their own and instill a “pride of ownership” in the child. I also hope that if the children have their own telescopes, they would be more likely to want to get out with them to observe. In other words, I hope to light that spark of interest. The plan is to have the children actually do a lot of the work themselves. I also plan to work with the children, helping them learn how to be an observer.

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 to find local clubs, events, and more!

Summer Triangle Corner: Vega

David Prosper and Vivian White

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere and look up during June evenings, you’ll see the brilliant star Vega shining overhead. Did you know that Vega is one of the most studied stars in our skies? As one of the brightest summer stars, Vega has fascinated astronomers for thousands of years.


By: Steve Goldberg

Eiffel Tower-1.JPGAsterism: a grouping of stars that form a recognizable pattern.

This month we have a two for one special! There are two Eiffel Tower assterims, one in the constellation Ursa Major and the other in the constellation Gemini

Constellation: Ursa Major Constellation: Gemini
Right Ascension: 13h 10m 00.0s Right Ascension: 06h 07m 25.0s
 Declination: +57 °31' 00" Declination: +24° 05' 48"



by Jim King

Messier.pngThis is the fourth installment of a series of columns primarily revolving around observing the Messier Catalogue.  The intent is to provide the reader a small sampling of the Messier objects each month that are most visible in the time frame the column is published.  Hence, these deep sky objects should be easily identifiable in and around the month of June.  Late spring is galaxy time and June is no exception.  Some months, like June, will have a special treat in addition to the Messier Objects.  Check the trailer. 


In 1913, Vesto Slipher of the Lowell Observatory became the first astronomer to detect rotation in a galaxy other than our own.  By studying the spectrum of M 104, he determined not only that the galaxy was receding from us at 700 miles per second, but that its disk was rotating. 

M104 is not as much of a mystery today as it was in the early 20th century.  We now know it as one of the largest galaxies in the southern edge of the Virgo Galaxy Cluster.

HAS Observatory use during COVID-19

Although the observatory roof has been fixed, only those already trained on observatory use can reserve time on the observatory telescopes. In addition, only two telescope operators—one on each telescope—is permitted to enter and use the observatory at a time. The bunks in the chartroom are not allowed to be used. The Observatory building is not yet open for in-person training. 

Observatory / Dark Site Rules

  • The observatory is open only to previously trained operators as described above. Bring your own eyepieces – the observatory eyepiece case is not available.
  • The observatory building is not open for in-person training 
  • Dark Site observing pads, RVs, private observatories, and restrooms are open
  • The bunkhouses are closed
  • Tent camping in the designated camping area is permitted
  • All other rules covered in online site training apply

To reserve time on an observatory telescope, email For questions about the observatory and use of the dark site facilities, email To take online site training, log into the website and click button Start Your Training near the bottom of this page

Novice amateur astronomers wanted!

beyondPolaris.JPGAre you an “early novice” in astronomy? Join President Joe Khalaf as he leads us through Beyond Polaris, an Astronomical League observing program tailored for beginning beginners. The group will get together on Zoom once every two weeks or so to ask questions and keep each other accountable—like a book club. If you're interested, email Joe directly so he can get things ready.   

Joe’s targeting the evening of Thursday, May 28 for the first meeting so contact Joe soon. Not yet a member? Join now:

Meeting announcements

President Joe Khalaf conducted the first General Meeting via Zoom of the stay-at-home order due to COVID-19 on May 1st. At the meeting, the membership voted to reschedule the first Friday July 3, 2020 meeting to July 10, 2020. The vote was conducted online in real time.

The next General Meeting is scheduled for June 5. All meetings going forward will be conducted via Zoom and/or Facebook until further notice. Joe also presented an update to the rules in place to keep us safe during this time.

JoeZoomMay.JPGCOVID-19 Updates.JPG