2017 ‘Late – Autumnal’ HNAC Gathering!

justin mccollumPublished November 1, 2017 by justin mccollum

Greetings to all of our club members, visitors, and guests! We welcome you to our next monthly gathering of the North Houston Astronomy Club on the 3rd Friday of this month (17 November 2017). This will be our third gathering at the new location in Conroe, TX!

Correct, the fourth Friday of this month happens to take place on the day of the Autumnal Equinox for 2017!

Due to the effects of Hurricane Harvey, the facilities at the Lone Star – Kingwood College (our usual monthly gathering) is not available for the rest of the year and so we have temporarily shifted our location to a new spot; Lone Star – Montgomery Campus north of the Woodlands, TX on the East Side of I45 and West of the WG Jones State Forest near SH 242.

Click below here for a Map of the Campus (Parking permits are not required after 6 PM!)

LSC – Montgomery

Click Here for Directions from Google Maps: Directions to Montgomery

Click Here for Directions from Mapquest: Directions to Montgomery

Physical Address

3200 College Park Dr.

Conroe, TX 77384

Our novice and general meetings will be taking place at this new location from now through December 2017.

Our special gathering will commence with the Novice Meeting:

Place: Lone Star College – Montgomery Campus

Location: Classroom Bldg. B (2nd Floor – Room B203)

Time: (6:30 – 7:15) PM

Speaker: Mr. Justin J McCollum (Professor Comet)


‘An Introduction to Celestial Coordinates’

Image result for celestial coordinates

Our club webmaster and longtime comet expert, Mr. Justin J McCollum is the Physics Laboratory Coordinator and instructor of Astronomy & Space Sciences at Lamar University. He will be giving us a presentation on the introduction to Celestial Coordinates. Knowing how to navigate across the sky begins with an understanding of how to locate and observe our brightest stars. Stars observed by humans form into patterns called constellations and asterisms. These patterns although a product of the human imagination can be used in techniques such as ‘star hoping’ to navigate across the sky to better study the heavens. The positions of sunrises, sunsets, moonrises, moonsets, and the positions of the planets need a coordinate system to accurately locate these objects year by year. More advanced coordinate systems have been developed not only to map out the sky but locate objects will outside our local galaxy!

This will be an introduction to the various types of coordinates systems used by observers here on Earth, mapping out the Solar System, and locating objects or structures throughout the Universe!

Below is a series of links extending on Professor Comet’s Talk

What are Celestial Coordinates?

How to Read Sky Coordinates!

Astronomy Education: University of Neb. Lincoln

Celestial Coordinates for Math Lovers!!!!

Find That Planet!

Scope to Sky Calculator (For Serious Telescopes)

Celestial Coordinate Systems (Lots of Facts & Equations)

Our monthly gathering will conclude at the General Meeting:

Place: Lone Star College – Montgomery Campus

Location: Classroom Bldg. B (1st Floor Auditorium – Room B102)

Time: (7:30 – 10:00) PM

Speaker: Dr. Paul Schenk (Lunar & Planetary Institute)


‘NASA Science Updates on Dwarf Planets Pluto & Ceres”

Ceres - RC3 - Haulani Crater (22381131691) (cropped).jpg


Dr. Paul Schenk is a planetary geologist and a senior staff scientist who works at the distinguish Lunar & Planetary Institute near the Johnson Space Center in SE Houston, TX. Dr. Schenk joined the institute in 1991 with his achievements being a Team member for encountering team for the NASA New Horizons Mission to both Jupiter & Pluto and participating scientist with the NASA DAWN spacecraft and Cassini missions. He is known for his public works such as 1997 fun educational CD-ROM ‘3-D Tour of the Solar System’ and his 2012 publication ‘Altas of the Galilean Satellites’. Dr. Schenk was an affiliate team member of the solid-state imaging team for the Galileo spacecraft in its survey of the Jovian system! Recently in 2015, he was the chief editor for the academic text ‘Enceladus & the Icy Moons of Saturn’ released through the University of Arizona press known for its world-famous publications in planetary geology and other texts in Astronomy & Cosmology!

This talk will be on the latest information about the Plutonian System and Ceres from the data recently transmitted and acquired from the New Horizons and DAWN both spacecraft developed and launched by NASA respectfully. The analysis and interpretation of the data from both missions in their explorations of the respective bodies or systems continue to this day. Dr. Schenk will provide an in-depth presentation on the result and interpretation from the analysis of the data sent back to Earth via the NASA Deep Sky Network and the latest results about understanding these planetary bodies and their place in the history and future of our solar system!


Below is a series of links extending on Dr. Schnek’s Talk

NASA New Horizons

New Horizons (John Hopkins APL site)

The Plutonian System

Moons of Pluto

DAWN Mission (JPL Site)

Ceres the dwarf planet!

NASA Planetary Photojournal (Dwarf Planets)