The Houston Astronomical Society is actively working to engage the public in the joy of amateur astronomy by providing public outreach events in the Houston area. HAS members have been to schools, civic associations, park areas, and libraries with their telescopes and with their enthusiasm for astronomy to provide opportunities for the public to see and to learn about the sky. The program is currently coordinated by Joe Khalaf.
Benefits of Outreach
Outreach events not only benefit the public, they benefit the HAS, and they benefit the volunteers. Many times, those who come to the events have never had the opportunity to look through a telescope or to observe the sky. There are many ‘Oh, Wow!’ moments at these events from new observers who have never seen the moon, Saturn, or Jupiter through a telescope. The HAS and other clubs in the area benefit because some of the attendees at these events may decide to become members of an area club. The HAS is very welcoming to new members and has much to offer (novice meetings, an observatory site, mentoring opportunities). The volunteers benefit too. To participate in a public star party you need to be ready to answer the public’s questions—how far away is Jupiter? Why does that star look red and the other one look blue? Can I see the rings of Saturn? So, it is a learning experience for the volunteers.
How to Request a Star Party or Educational Outreach Event
Because outreach is a city-wide effort, the Houston Astronomical Society has joined with other Houston area astronomy clubs to establish a presence on the Night Sky Network. Together, we’re called the Greater Houston Astronomical Coalition. If your group wants a star party,click here to submit a request. We will review the request and be sure to forward to other area clubs if we feel it is better suited to their geographic range.
Volunteer Opportunities with HAS
If you want to participate, as a volunteer, in a public star party, sign up on the NSN web site, or access the current calander of volunteer events via the “”Member Features” menu once logged in. The monthly HAS meetings are also a great way to keep up with Outreach efforts in the club.
Volunteer Opportunities at the George Observatory
Many HAS members are involved in the ongoing outreach programs hosted by the George Observatory. A satellite of the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the George boasts a 36-inch Gueymard Research Telescope—one of the largest telescopes in the U.S. that is regularly available for public viewing. The observatory is open to the public every Saturday night. If you're interested in volunteering at the George, please sign up for the George Volunteers email list.