Welcome to Houston Astronomical Society

Founded in 1955, Houston Astronomical Society is an active community of enthusiastic amateur and professional astronomers with over 60 years of history in the Houston area. Through education and outreach, our programs promote science literacy and astronomy awareness. We meet on the first Friday of each month at the Trini Mendenhall Community Center. Membership has a variety of benefits, including access to a secure dark site west of Houston, a telescope loaner program, and much more. Joining is simple; you can sign up online, by mail or in person at a monthly meeting.

Letter from the President - June 2020

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.”

Getting Kids Into Astronomy

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.

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 [email protected]. For questions about the observatory and use of the dark site facilities, email [email protected]. To take online site training, log into the website and click button Start Your Training near the bottom of this page https://astronomyhouston.org/about/has-observatory

June 04, 2020, 7:00PM: June Novice Presentation - Via Zoom

“I Have This Scope and Want to do Astrophotography”

Speaker: Don Selle
Location: Online via Zoom with chat

 

A person standing posing for the cameraDescription automatically generatedAbstract – It is a statement we hear regularly from new astronomers and it’s usually followed by a flurry of how-to questions. Most times, it is difficult to answer these questions because it can be hard to know where to start. As one wag put it: ”Astrophotography is a wide river that runs deep. It has a steep and slippery slope to get to it, is full of twists and turns, and hides many snags along the way”.

The astrophotography we see today on the internet and in various publications is magnificent and inspiring. It is also very different from other types of inspiring photography. In addition to the photographic knowledge required to produce say an inspiring landscape photo, astrophotography requires the imager to learn and use equipment and processes not used in any other type of photography.

This presentation is meant as a starting point for answering this question, and to set reasonable expectations by providing insight into the various types of astrophotography, the equipment and software used for each, and a glimpse at the skills and time required to be a successful astro-imager.

June 05, 2020, 7:00PM: June Meeting - Main Presentation - Via Zoom

“Development of the Astronomical Observatory at Prairie View A&M”

Speaker: Brian Cudnik
Location: Online via Zoom with chat

 

A person standing posing for the cameraDescription automatically generatedAbstract –  Over the past couple of years, Brian Cudnik has been directly involved in the development of a professional observatory at Prairie View A&M University, and he will share with us his experiences.

At PVAMU over 400 students per semester are introduced to astronomy concepts through its physical sciences curriculum. Over the past several years, the university has been engaged at upgrading its existing Solar observatory and expanding the observatory by adding 2 new domes with 16 inch and 24 inch telescopes. The expanded observatory will enhance the hands-on experience for PVAMU students, and the popularity of Astronomy will help attract students into STEM fields and can help motivate them to move into STEM careers.

In addition, current astronomical research at the University will be enhanced, and this will facilitate the development of a Physics and Astronomy Department at the University. The new observatory will also hold public observing events will increase the public image of PVAMU.

 

The Eiffel Tower - Asterism of the Month - June 2020

 

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"

 

 

Clear skies at the VSIG

It was a great time discussing all things visual at the VSIG meeting. Participants discussed current observing projects and shared observing tips and tricks. If you are into visual astronomy, beginner to advanced, there’s room for you, too. Contact Ed Fraini to be added to the VSIG list, the Visual Special Interest Group.
ZoomVSIG.JPG

The group will continue meeting monthly via Zoom on the Monday following the monthly General Meeting. Dates may change when near new moon so check the schedule posted by VSIG Moderator Stephen Jones on the Upcoming Events calendar.

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