May 2018

Volume XVIII Number 5


This Month's Upcoming events


May 25


General Meeting

Lone Star College,

Montgomery Campus

Do not go to the Kingwood Campus!

See below!




Next Month's Events


June 1

Insperity Observatory Public Night.

See below.


June 9

Star Party

O'Brien Dark Site

See below.


June 22

General Meeting

Lone Star College

Montgomery Campus!

See below.


 May 25


Novice Session-- 6:30 P.M.,

Room B-203



Constellation Hercules



Review of the Deep Sky Binocular Astroleague Challenge,

started at the May Star Party


Presented by:

Dr. Bruce Pollard, PhD,NHAC




General Meeting-- 7:30 P.M.

Room B-102

Subject: Updates on General subjects, including the Texas Star Party, Comets, Progress in Spectroscopy, Radio Telescope endeavors at the Insperity Observatory, and perhaps the Astroleague Mars Challenge.


Presented by Various members.


What's Up Doc?"

by Dr. Aaron Clevenson for next month

will be posted on the NHAC Website.




 >>>>Very Important Special Notice:<<<<


Due to flood damage at the Kingwood Campus, we have had to move our meetings to temporary "quarters" at the Montgomery Campus.  This notice is long and detailed, but it is the best I could do to pass the information to anyone who has never been to the Montgomery campus:


The campus is located on State Highway 242, just west of IH45.  This is basically the north side of The Woodlands.  The LSC Montgomery campus is on the North side of 242.  We will meet in Room B-102.



OK, so we still don't know how to get to the meeting?  I'm going to give it a shot:

Coming on SH 242 from the West, the first entrance to the campus is the second stoplight AFTER passing Gosling.  Turn left onto West Campus Drive and go about a quarter mile, past the open parking lots, and park in the multi-story covered parking garage.  Hang tight, more in a minute.


Coming from the East, from IH45, after a couple of blocks or so there will be a series of 4 entrances to the campus on your right.  The first entrance is Maverick Way.  Do not take that.  Go to the fourth entrance which is named West Campus Drive and turn right. (There is a stoplight at this entrance.) Go about a quarter mile  past the open parking lots and park in the multi-story covered parking garage.



Now we have both groups, the Westerners and the Easterners in the parking garage.  Whew!!



When you come out of the parking garage towards the campus, the building straight in front of you is the B building.  Recall we are going to have the general meeting in B-102.  Entering the building, you proceed straight ahead until you reach a hallway going off to the right.  There are stairs at this point.  Make the right turn, but do not go up these stairs.   Have faith and keep going.  After one more right corner and a brief search you will find Room B-102 where we will have the Main Meeting at 7:30 P.M.



Wait a minute!  What about the Novice session at 6:30 P.M.?  It happens that will be on the second floor, in the Astronomy Classroom, Room 203, almost exactly above the meeting Room, B-102.  If you orient yourself to the meeting room, B-102, then you can easily backtrack, go up the stairs in the stair-well next to B-102, and locate the Astronomy room, B-203.



Bruce Pollard sent us this about the food plans:

With our move to LSC Montgomery we lose our snack subsidy but we have a proposal to keep the Subways coming.  It is called "pay it forward".  We have received a donation to cover the first meeting.  Now there will be a jar (maybe a hat?) for people who can contribute to put in some cash to pay for the next meeting snacks.  After this month we will see if we have received enough to continue snacks at our normal level.  As usual anyone wanting to help pick up the food will be reimbursed.



This posting will be continued for as long as we are meeting at the Montgomery Campus, LSC.





1.  The Club Officers for 2018 are:

President --                              Susan Pollard

Vice-President--                        Bruce Pollard

Secretary--                               Mike Comeaux

Treasurer--                               Joana Tan

Newsletter Editor--                    Rusty Hill

Astronomical League Coord.--    Aaron Clevenson

Webmaster--                            Justin McCollum

Observation Committee Chair--  James Billings

Membership Committee Chair--  Carlos Gramajo

Program Committee Chair---      Todd Sullivan


2.  Our Astronomical League Coordinator is Dr. Aaron Clevenson.  The Astronomical League URL is:


Aaron shared this with us, and it continues to be valid and useful:


It's 2018.  I hope that one of your New Year's resolutions was to dive into an Astronomical League Observing Program.  I am your AL-Coordinator for 2018, and I am looking forward to you all making me work very hard.  The AL has over 65 different certifications and there are new ones every year.  There is something for everyone, at every level, every experience level, and covering everything from naked-eye observing to large telescopes.  Where is your niche?  Where is your interest?


The newest one is the Mars Observing Program.  It is designed for visual observations as well as imaging, and the window for good observations begins in February.  There will be more details on the Astrolist list server, but now is the time to begin planning. There are observations of various features and effects.  This is expected to be a great apparition of Mars, so don't miss out on this opportunity.


A recent addition to the Observing Programs from the AL includes the Master Observer Progression.  It has 6 levels, and is designed to provide a road-map and recognition from novice through expert. It starts with the Observer Award for the newbees.  After you complete 5 introductory level Observing Programs, you will be recognized.  Master Observer is for those attaining 10 certifications.  It goes up from there through Advanced Observer, Master Observer - Silver, Master Observer - Gold, and Master Observer - Platinum.  There is also a new Binocular Master Observer for those who prefer binocular observations.  Check out the Astronomical League website:


NASA and the AL are also preparing 3 more NASA Observing Challenges for 2018.  they will include observing the Sun, Mars, and a star with an extrasolar planet.  More info to come.


So what is holding you back?  Opportunities abound, and the more experienced members of your astronomy club are here to help you start your journey.  If I can help, please email me: <>


3.   Follow-up Item:  Spectroscopy at Insperity.

Our honors student, Mytrang Huynh, whom several members have met, furnished the central focus of the spectroscopy activities this spring.  She was taking Dr. Clevenson's other Astronomy course this semester.  With the assistance of Dr. Bruce Pollard, PHD, she completed her work with the 2400 lines per mm grating and obtained  high resolution spectra.  She successfully completed her Honors Presentation and Program.


For those interested in learning about Amateur Spectroscopy using an effective but inexpensive grating filter, information is available in the introductory manual by Ken M. Harrison, available from Amazon, entitled "Grating Spectroscopes and How to Use Them".  It is detailed, and full of good information.


4.  There is a membership survey, entitled "North Houston Astronomy Club Questionairre", which will be circulated at the May meeting, with follow-ups, to ensure all members have opportunity to provide input.


5.  Current Plans for the July Novice Session are that I will be presenting a talk entitled "What I wish I had known when I started Observing".  This should feed into the plans to have an observing session on the top of the Parking Garage after the July meeting on July 27, weather permitting.  This will be the full moon, so there will be at least one object in the sky we should all be able to find!


6.  For all members, please remember to pick up your Name Badge before the meeting, wear it, and return it after this meeting so you will still have a name tag at the next meeting.  We do not want any members to be nameless.


7. The  remaining General Meeting Schedule for 2018 is:

May 25

June 22

July 27

August 24

September 28

October 26

November 16

December 14



Star party

June 9, 2018

Hey!  We finally got in an actual Barbeque/ Star Party, with out being rained out.  How about that?


For the Star Party on June 9, Sunset will be 8:24 P.M.  The moon will not rise until 3:24 A.M., so it should be quite dark, except for all that Star Shine, if the weather permits.


About a half hour after Sunset you will be able to see Venus in the western sky.  At the same time Jupiter will be well up in the East.  (It will be a good chance to compare their relative brightness.)  Orion and Canis Major (Sirius) are gone, however Arcturus and Spica are easily located overhead.  ("Arc to Arcturus, spike to Spica.")


In the East Taurus will be well up, and M13 will be easily seen with binoculars or small telescopes.  The Summer Triangle of Deneb in Cygnus, Vega in Lyra, and Altair in Aquila will be rising in the East.  In Cygnus, Albireo, a gorgeous bi-color double star can easily be seen a couple of hours after Sunset.  For comet hunters, C/2016 N6 (Panstarrs) is circumpolar, so its region of the sky is easily located.  Its Magnitude is only 13.06 or so, requiring a good sized scope to see it.


Now if the weather will only cooperate!


If you are new to the club these events are especially for you.  We, the members, are the reason we have observing Star Parties, and they are great occasions to get familiar with observing.  We do have 10" Dobsonian scopes available at the Dark Site for your use. There will also be several other scopes available for all to try.  And do bring a Binocular-- you can do lots of successful observing with nothing more.


NHAC Club Policy is that the focus of the Star Parties will be to give as much assistance as possible to new observers.


For those who may not have been to the O'Brien Dark Site, it is just north of Dobbin, which is 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 generous hosts, and they do turn off any outside lights which might bother us, if we remember to ask.


The specific Dark Site location is password protected.  Any club officer can give you the password, but it is



Access to the Dark Site must be requested from the O'Briens in advance via the NHAC email.  It is only necessary for any 1 member to request access-- Access approved for any of us is access approved for all of us.


On our NHAC web site, click on "Observing" then select "O'Brien Dark Site".  Scroll down to the O'Brien Dark Site information and look for the "detailed directions" link.  You will need to enter the password.  There are maps as well as directions.  It is well worth the drive, which is about 6 or 7 minutes driving time North of Dobbin off of State Highway 105 west of Montgomery.


Star Parties are routinely scheduled for the Saturday on, just before, or just after the New Moon throughout the year.  This is to provide the best opportunity for dark skies.


2018 New Moon dates and planned Star Party dates, are:

New  Moon                BBQ?                       Star Party

June 13                                                   June 9

July 12                                                    July 14

August 10                                                August 11

September 9                                            September 8

October 8                  YES                         October 6

November 7                                             November 3

December 6               YES                         December 8

NHAC is a proud member of:

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

Insperity Observatory, Humble I.S.D.


Public Night will be on Friday, June 1, 2018


Sunset will be at  8:18 P.M.  The moon will not rise until 10:59 P.M. and will be no factor.


Doors will be open by about 8:00 P.M. and remain open to the public until 10:00.


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 get to use, otherwise.  The Observatory has a 6" Takahashi refractor, a 16" Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain, and a 20" Plane Wave telescope.  Each is computer controlled, which provide awesome views of the sky.  There are usually about 75 guests, sometimes more, on Public Night, with several repeating.  Our guests are very appreciative of the opportunity to enjoy and also expose their kids to Astronomy.  Then after all our guests have departed, several of us usually stay for a while and enjoy the views and each other's company.


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, in the back part of the Jack Fields Elementary School on the East side of S. Houston Ave.  For information, see the web site or the address below.


Dates and times are subject to change.


The Insperity Observatory is at:

Jack Fields Elementary School

2505 S. Houston Ave.

Humble, TX 77396


The Observatory Phone number is 281-641-STAR.


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

Discounts on Purchases at Land, Sea and Sky.  Be sure to identify yourself as an NHAC member.

Loaner Telescopes after being a member for 6 months.

Opportunity to observe from Dark Sky Observing Sites.

Learn from Experienced Observers.

Astronomy Magazine subscriptions at a discount.

Membership in the Astronomical League, with multiple Observing Clubs available.

Included subscription to the Astronomical League magazine "Reflector".

Access to the NHAC Library

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 normally held each month on the fourth Friday.  In the months of October, November and December they are usually rescheduled for the third Friday of each month, so as to not conflict with the Annual All Clubs meeting, Thanksgiving, or Christmas.

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