February, 2013

Volume XIII, No. 2

 This Month's coming events:

February 22--NHAC General Meeting

March 1--Insperity Observatory Public Night

March 9--Star Party, Messier Marathon, O'Brien Dark Site March 16--Weather Backup Star Party, Messier Marathon

Please see below for more information.

February 22, 2013

Novice Program

 6:30 - 7:15pm in the Cosmic Forum, upstairs in the CLA building

Dr. Aaron Clevenson

Messier Marathon Briefing


Main Presentation

Beginning at 7:30pm in the building CLA Teaching Theater

Dark Sky Symposium with the video THE CITY DARK, by Ian Cheney

What’s Up Doc?” by Aaron Clevenson

Important Notices

1.  Dues-- Need to be paid this month.   Club By-laws require removing the names of any members who have not paid the yearly dues by the end of February.  We do not want to lose anyone, so if you haven't yet paid the 2013 dues, please see David Lambert.

2.  Calendars-- 2013, "Deep Space Mysteries", published by Astronomy Magazine.  Fabulous Astrophotography.  Special offer good this month only!  Get 10 months for the price of 12!  Seriously, talk with David Lambert.  He might cut you a deal.

3.  TEE-shirts-- Again David is the man.  He has your size.  I think!

4.  Welcome to new members:  Samson Moreno family, Abhi Raiput, Bob Misak, Kim Wiley family, Patricia Ariles family, and Yvonnne and Patricia Capito.  We are happy to have you with us!

5.  Returning members:  Tom Rice and Todd Sullivan.  Glad to have you back!

6.  Name Badges:  We are making name badges for all members(thanks, Aaron!). Please pick up your name badge when you arrive and wear it during the meeting.  Don't forget to return it after the meeting.  Last month Aaron was guarding the door to make sure that no-one with a name badge succeeded in escaping. 

7.  April 13 Star Party and BBQ.  O'Brien Dark Site.  Y'all come!

Star Party, March 9

Alternate Date March 16

The Messier Marathon, an Annual Event

The Board of Directors has decided the focus of the Star Parties will be to give as much assistance as possible to new observers.

The plan is for a number of the more experienced observers to attend each of the Star Parties, with telescopes, so we "novices" will know there is someone who is planning to be at the Star Party with equipment and the desire to share knowledge.  Thie coming Star Party will focus on Messier Marathon activities.

This Star Party is March 9, or in case of inclement weather, March 16, at the O'Brien dark site.  For those who may not have been there, it is just north of Dobbin on Highway 105 west of Montgomery.  It has reasonably dark skies, and a great low horizon in all directions. The Owners, Tim and Wanda O'Brien are very cooperative hosts, and they do turn off any outside lights which might bother us.

The Dark Site address is: 27899 Myers Rd.
Montgomery, TX

On our NHAC web site, click on "Star Party!"  Scroll down to the O'Brien Dark Site information and look for the "detailed directions" link.  There are maps as well as directions.  There is also more information at the bottom of this Newsletter.  It is well worth the drive, which is about 10 minutes after you leave Dobbin going north.

Aaron Clevenson, James Billings, and likely Bruce Pollard are planning to be there to offer assistance to any who wish it.  I (Rusty) will be there, but the others named know a lot more than I.

Star Parties are scheduled for the weekend close to the New Moon throughout the year to provide the best opportunity for dark skies.

Inclement weather of course can cause Star Party cancellation or postponement. 

Note:  This Star Party is focused on Observing, and is not a BBQ Party.  The BBQ/Star Party will be at the O'Brien Site April 13, weather permitting.


Membership Committee will task itself with operating an occasional “door prize drawing” of astronomical related books, gadgets, accessories, or other items donated by members.  If you have stuff that it's time to pass on to astronomy-interested people , this is your opportunity.

See Stuart Davenport or myself if you have something to donate.
......George Marsden


Upcoming NHAC Meeting Schedule

 February 22                  March 22

NHAC is a proud member of:

Astronomical League/NASA Night Sky Network/International Dark-Sky Association

        Astronomical League         Night Sky Network     International Dark-sky


2013 Public Nights*

March 1,     6:30 PM

April 5,          7:45 PM

May 3,           8:00 PM

June 7,          8:15 PM

July 5,           8:30 PM

August 2

September 6

October 4

November 1

December 6

These Public Nights are a tremendous opportunity for us to be a part of Astronomy Outreach, and also to observe with scopes we might never see, otherwise.  The Observatory has a 16" and a 20" telescope, each computer controlled, which provide awesome views of the sky.  There are typically 30 or 40 guests at the Public Night, several repeating, who are very appreciative of the opportunity to expose their kids to Astromony, and who enjoy the observing in their own experience, as well.  And then after all our guests have departed, several of us usually stay for a while and enjoy the views.  I (Rusty) have seen more detail on Jupiter from the Insperity Observatory than at any other time or place.

The Observatory is about 3/4 of a mile south of Will Clayton Parkway on S. Houston Ave, just north of Rankin Road in Humble.

*Dates and times are subject to change.

The Insperity Observatory at Humble ISD, 2505 S. Houston Ave., Humble, TX 77396 281-641-STAR

Rusty's Ramblings...

Hi.  Introducing myself, I am Rusty Hill, the new Editor of the NHAC Newsletter.  I am working with Jamie Martin who has accepted the Webmaster job.  I am grateful for her guidance and advice, as well as several of the other Club Officers.  I actually started in January, but things were so hectic with the change-over that I decided to hold off on the self-introduction for the time being.

Several of you have met me.  I have had a peripheral interest in Astronomy all my life, but only in the past 18 months have I been able to indulge myself.  I have taken both of Aaron Clevenson's classes over at Montgomery College, learned a lot, and have developed a passion for observing.  I have done the Astronomical League Lunar Club, am most of the way through the full Messier List (20 to go), and am currently focussing on the Binocular Deep Sky Club.

Next month I hope to go into why I believe the Binocular Double Star Club might be an excellent Club for any novice observer to start with, but for now I want to dwell on the Messier Marathon coming up on March 9, if we get the weather we hope for, or on March 16 as a backup.  The "master of ceremonies" will be Aaron Clevenson, who is one of the country’s most knowledgeable, experienced, and enthusiastic observers.  He has completed over 30 of the Clubs, and is the author of several of them.  He is an excellent teacher, and happily shares information with anyone who is interested.  I am around Aaron at (almost) every Insperity Public night, and always learn something.

The Messier Marathon is an annual event which occurs in March, and is based on the fact that for a few days there is an opportunity to observe all of the Messier Objects in one night of observing.  Everything has to be right, of course, starting with having a good dark site, and good weather.  Our O'Brien Dark site is a good one, so now we hope for good weather.

Aaron will be there, James Billings, Co-Chair of the Observation Committee expects to be there, probably Bruce Pollard, as well as others of the more experienced observers.  The focus of the evening will be to see as many of the Messier Objects as possible.  If you haven't seen at least some of the Messier Objects, this is a great opportunity to be introduced to them.  And if you have found most of the Messiers, it will be a good opportunity to expand your sightings list.

Aaron will be discussing the Messier Marathon at this month's Novice Session at 6:30 just before the main meeting on Friday, February 22.  If you have ever thought you might have an interest in observing, this sequence of the discussion at the Novice Session, followed by the Messier Marathon, represents a wonderful opportunity to get your feet wet.  You shouldn't miss this.  The next opportunity for a Messier Marathon will be in March, 2014.

Until next month, Clear Skies!


The North Houston Astronomy Club (NHAC), was formed for educational and scientific purposes, for people of all races, creeds, ethnic backgrounds and sex, for the primary purpose of developing and implementing programs designed to increase the awareness and knowledge of astronomy, especially for those living near the north side of Houston Texas.
NHAC is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing the opportunity for all individuals to pursue the science of astronomy, by observing in a dark-sky site, learning the latest technology, and sharing their knowledge and experience. Thus, our “Observe-Learn-Share” motto.

North Houston Astronomy Club is Sponsored by:

  • Membership Benefits
  • Loaner telescopes
  • Borrow from the NHAC “Library”
  • Observe from Dark Sky Observing Sites
  • Learn from experienced amateur astronomers
  • Share your knowledge at club hosted picnics and star parties
  • Discount magazine subscriptions (contact our Treasurer)
  • Includes membership in the Astronomical League
  • The quarterly Astronomical League magazine “Reflector”
  • Eligibility for NHAC Executive Board

Observe - Learn - Share

The North Houston Astronomy Club is a not-for-profit organization sponsored by Lone Star College-Kingwood, dedicated to increasing the awareness and knowledge of the science of astronomy. Public meetings are held each month on the fourth Friday.