By: Steve Goldberg
By: Steve Goldberg
Annual Messier Challenge
by Jim King
A plan to learn the joy and excitement of observing the Universe
This article appeared in the October 2018 edition of the GuideStar
So, yawn, the 2022 Messier Marathon is soon. This Saturday. March 5. At the HAS Dark Site. No big deal. If it doesn't work out—after all, it has been raining and cloudy—there's always next month. Or next year.
Shhh! Have we appeased the weather gods by not wanting it too much? Yes? … Yes! Click read more for details
It’s March here in Houston, which means spring is right around the corner. As we start to leave winter behind, the weather starts to get warmer and our evenings will start to become much more pleasant for observing. The winter months are always difficult for me to observe in, so it was nice to take my telescope out recently for the first time in a while.
In February, we had our first Urban Observing/members-only star party in quite some time. I want to thank all the members, new and long timers alike, who made it out to the Eastern Glades at Memorial Park to observe with us. Yes, the moon was nearly full, but many of us had our telescopes trained on our nearest celestial neighbor, as well as other deep sky objects - like M42 (the Great Orion Nebula), NGC 457 (the Owl Cluster), and more. But even better than that was the chance to interact with our members, many of whom I had never met in person before. We all had a great time talking about astronomy, telescopes, and other things before calling it a night shortly before 10 PM. I’ll look for opportunities to put more of these events on our calendar throughout the year, as it’s a great way to get out and observe without having to drive all the way to the dark site.
Lastly, I wanted to give an update on our website migration. We’re still in the process of moving our membership data over to the new platform and configuring our policies and rules there. It has certainly taken a little longer than we anticipated, which is why we opted to open up renewals to all members using the old system. For those of you who have already renewed, thank you for your continued support of the Houston Astronomical Society in 2022. If you haven’t had a chance to renew your membership yet, please do so at your earliest convenience. We’re aiming to have most of our renewals processed in the next few weeks before we change our dark site gate code. Renewing your membership now ensures you don’t lose access to the dark site or to any of the great amenities your club has to offer.
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!
Embracing the Equinox
by: David Prosper
This (not to scale) image shows how our planet receives equal amounts of sunlight during equinoxes.
Credit: NASA/GSFC/Genna Duberstein
Depending on your locale, equinoxes can be seen as harbingers of longer nights and gloomy weather, or promising beacons of nicer temperatures and more sunlight. Observing and predicting equinoxes is one of the earliest skills in humanity’s astronomical toolkit. Many ancient observatories around the world observed equinoxes along with the more pronounced solstices. These days, you don’t need your own observatory to know when an equinox occurs, since you’ll see it marked on your calendar twice a year! The word “equinox” originates from Latin, and translates to equal (equi-) night (-nox). But what exactly is an equinox?