November 2021

AP Corner - December 2021

by Don Selle

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Auto-Guiding Part 1

 To Autoguide or not to Autoguide – it’s all About Noise

One of the questions that beginning astrophotographers ask these days is whether they need to acquire the equipment and learn the skills associated with autoguiding. With current technology, this is a valid question. This article will help you answer it. A little background info should help start us out.

Astrophotography, unlike most other types of photography, is all about capturing very dim objects many of which include elements that are barely brighter than the sky around them.  Because of this, astrophotographers post process their images to increase the contrast between the object and the background sky thus creating images that look attractive to other people.

The James Webb Space Telescope: Ready for Launch! - Night Sky Network

211129km_NSNRound150.pngThis 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!

The James Webb Space Telescope: Ready for Launch!

David Prosper


NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is ready for lift-off! As of this writing (November 15), the much-anticipated next-generation space telescope is being carefully prepared for launch on December 18, 2021, and will begin its mission to investigate some of the deepest mysteries of our universe.


Messier Column - December 2021

by Jim King


December’s column will finish up the Messier fall/early winter group.  This is a case of last, but not least.  All of Messier’s objects are worth the effort to locate and spend some time wallowing in their beauty.

Asterisms – NGC 1662, Klingon Battlecruiser

by Steve Goldberg

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

Constellation: Orion
Right Ascension: 04h 48m 27.0s
Declination: +10° 56' 12"
Magnitude:  9 to 10


This month’s asterism is NGC 1662 which can also be looked at as a “Klingon Battlecruiser” from the Star Trek series. It is located near the bow that Orion is holding, aimed at Taurus the Bull.

In this picture, the inner circle is the NGC object, the outer circle is a 13mm eyepiece in 14.5” telescope. So it will take some power to see this one. Now, imagine the 4 bright stars in the middle as the main section of the battlecruiser with the close pair on the right as one wing tip, and the wide pair on the left as the other wing tip.

Russell Sipe (Sky&Telescope, February 2005) was first to spot that the stars fitted the running lights of the battlecruiser (D7 Class).

Shallow Sky Object of the Month: Caph—Beta Cas—A Star in Transition

Beta Cas

Reprinted with permission of Bill Pellerin, GuideStar editor

Object: Caph-Beta Cas
Class: Delta Scuti variable star
Magnitude: 2.25
R.A.: 00 h, 9 m, 11 s
Dec: 59 degrees, 08 minutes, 59 seconds
Distance: 55 ly
Constellation: Cassopeia
Spectral: F2
Optics needed: Unaided Eye

Why this object is interesting:
Beta Cas is an old star and like many old stars it is starting to show its age by becoming variable. In the categories of variable stars this one is called a Delta Scuti variable star and it has some common characteristics with Cepheid variable stars. Cepheids are famous because their intrinsic luminosity (power output) is related to their period of variability. Thus, they and the Delta Scuti variable stars allow astronomers to measure the distance to stars and star systems.

If you know the intrinsic brightness of a star it’s easy to determine the distance using the inverse square law. That is, the brightness we see is inversely proportional to the square of the distance.

Click read more for entire article...

Field Trip & Observing: Looking Up

ReneGedaly_FTO_caption.pngRene Gedaly – Field Trip & Observing Chairperson

Hello, Members! Jim King has passed the baton and I am your new Field Trip & Observing chairperson for 2022. H.A.S. has already "opened back up" with hybrid meetings and Outreach events. Can Field Trip & Observing events be far behind? In a word: Absolutely Not ;-) Here's a taste of what FT&O has in store.

2022 Schedule of Field Trip & Observing Events

  • Messier Marathon. Our first event of the year is the spring Messier Marathon at the Dark Site. The year 2022 brings us two good Saturdays to run the marathon: March 5 and April 2 (rain date). We'll have several tracks of marathon running in parallel: traditional, Go-To, imaging, binocular and EAA! Don't sit on the sidelines. Jump in and see what it's all about. Oh, and to get us prepared, I’ll be giving a talk on the HAS Messier Marathon at the Thursday, February 3, 2022 Novice meeting—not just for novices.
  • Texas Star Party. The Texas Star Party is early this year and, as usual, HAS will be there in force. If you're new to the major star parties—or even if you're not—this year you are invited to get together for a little hospitality and to learn the ropes with other HAS members. TSP is 24 Apr – 1 May, 2022.
  • Astronomy at the Beach. This one's for you, Moms and Dads. Did you ever try to get your littles interested in astronomy only to have cloudy skies on that one weekend you had free? We've got a solution: Astronomy at the Beach. Hopefully it will be nice clear skies, but if not, there's always swimming, nature walks, and fishing. Fingers crossed that I nab Saturday, June 25 when the Galveston State Park reservations open up.
  • Annual Picnic. To many of us long-time members, FT&O means the Annual Picnic. This year, it falls on Halloween weekend, Oct 29. Costumes for kids of all ages is encouraged but let's up the ante and do a late night "scary object" observing theme. Think Orion the Hunter taking aim at the Pleiades and some of our own fine imagers taking aim at the Witch Head Nebula
  • Themed Observing Nights. Lastly, on scattered prime nights, we'll have some themed observing nights like globular clusters, meteor showers, or a Texas 45 marathon.Visual, imaging, and EAA observers should make for a great group in this ever widening hobby of ours.

As always, events are subject to the weather. Say! Have you got an idea that you’d like to help make happen? Contact Rene Gedaly at [email protected].

Upcoming website changes at HAS

1:16 PM 11/15/2021 admin
Send questions to President Joe Khalaf: [email protected] 

Change is coming to the website and we are excited about what this new platform will do for our club and how it can scale and adapt as we continue to grow and transform as an organization.

What are we migrating?  All of our website content and our membership database.  This includes articles, dark site and observatory log reports, user photos in the photo gallery, and more.
When are we starting the migration?  Migration should begin Monday, November 15, and should be completed by the beginning of the year.  We’re hoping it’s done much sooner, but have built in time for contingency planning.
So what does that mean to you?  The migration to our new platform will take a few weeks to complete and should appear transparent to our members. All of these are related to CREATING and MODIFYING content on our website, not READING or CONSUMING it. Here’s how you can help:

  • Please hold off on renewing your membership until our migration is complete. 
  • Please do not upload your astrophotos to our member’s photo gallery until the migration is complete.
  • Do not upload your dark site or observatory log reports to the website once we start the migration.
  • Don’t make modifications to your profile.

For full details, refer back to the email Joe Khalaf sent to all members on November 15, 2021.

Measure the Night Sky

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!



Measure the Night Sky

David Prosper

Fall and winter months bring longer nights, and with these earlier evenings, even the youngest astronomers can get stargazing. One of the handiest things you can teach a new astronomer is how to measure the sky – and if you haven’t yet learned yourself, it’s easier than you think!


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