March, 2013

Volume XIII, No. 3

 This Month's coming events:

March 22-- General Meeting, Kingwood College

April 5--Insperity Observatory Public Night

APRIL 13-BarBeQue (BBQ) Star Party, O'Brien Dark Site Please see below for more information.

March 22, 2013

Novice Program

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

Dr. Aaron Clevenson

Planning a Night of Observing


Main Presentation

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

David Garrison, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Chair of Physics
University of Houston-Clear Lake

Subject:  "Numerical Cosmology"

What’s Up Doc?” by Aaron Clevenson

Important Notices


1.  We have a new website, which has some very nice changes.  Ed Knapton had done our website for several years, and it served us very well.  Many thanks, Ed!

Our current webmaster, Jamie Martin, has put together a similar yet new website which is very attractive, and contains some updates.  At the same time it retains many of the features Ed gave us.  Many thanks, Jamie!


2.  Calendars-- 2013, "Deep Space Mysteries", published by Astronomy Magazine.  Fabulous Astrophotography!  Special offer good this month only!  Get 9 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: 

Richard Nelson,
James Lind,
Lloyd Hren,
Lance Rohloff,
Robert Scott.

We are delighted to have you with us.  We hope you will enjoy your association with our club, and come to the the O'Brien Dark Site to observe with us. Welcome!


5.  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.  Aaron takes this seriously. There is a rumor that last month someone escaped without returning his name badge.  Don't be that one!


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

BBQ Star Party, April 13


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 April 13, and will include a BBQ, with Mike Kramer as the master of ceremonies. 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 does begin with a club BBQ, starting around 6:00 PM.  Sunset is around 7:30 PM, which should give us lots of time to enjoy the BBQ and get set up for an evening's observing.  The PANSTARRS comet should be nicely visible, clouds permitting.


The Membership Committee will task itself with operating an occasional “door prize drawing” of astronomically related books, gadgets, accessories, or other items donated by members.  If you have stuff that it is 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

 March 22          April 26

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*

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.

For information, see the web site:

*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 Folks:

First, we pretty much were wiped out for this year's Messier Marathon.  The prime night in March was weathered out and had to be cancelled.  The alternate night, March 16, had the distraction of a fairly bright moon which illuminated the haze layer quite nicely, thank you.  Anything west was difficult to see, although the PANSTARRS comet did put in an appearance for a brief spell after sundown.  But affecting the Messier Marathon, in addition to the moon, there were clouds moving through all evening, which finally went fully overcast about 10:30.  Prior to that Aaron's group saw quite a few Messier objects.  James Billlings and I used our manual scopes to look for objects between the clouds and share what we saw, but it wasn't a lot.  Mike Kramer had several folks with him, but the sky was mostly crummy for all of us.

In a sense there will be a make-up session on April 6th.  It is not the formal Club BBQ and Star Party, which is scheduled for April 13.  But April 6 is going to be a really good evening to observe, if the weather permits, and it is still in the time of year when the Marathon sightings can occur.  It is only 3 days prior to the New  Moon, and will be a dark sky until around 3 or 4 AM.  Anyone who wishes can request the use of the Dark Site that night, or any other night, and go on out.  It does not need to be a club scheduled activity.  Just be sure to request the Dark Site from Wanda and Tim at least 24 hours in advance. 

On a different subject, there is a web site in the Kingwood area which lists event information for no charge.  To see our club notice, log onto

ALso, it was mentioned to me that there is a web article about a comet which will pass close to Mars, and perhaps might hit the Red Planet.  But for a heads up, the link I was given will lead into a political blog, and some of the "give and take" in the blog gets a bit raunchy.  The comet info is interesting, but the blog is a bit over the top in places.

As i mentioned last month, I have wanted to go into why I believe the Binocular Double Star Club might be an excellent Astronomical League Club for any novice observer to start with, but I think I have gone on long enough for this month, so I will save that for April.

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.