July 2018

Volume XVIII Number 7


This Month's Upcoming events


July 27

General Meeting

Lone Star College,

Montgomery Campus

Do not go to the Kingwood Campus!

See below!



Next Month's Events


August 3

Insperity Observatory Public Night.

See below.


August 11

Star Party

O'Brien Dark Site

See below.


August 24

General Meeting

Lone Star College

Montgomery Campus!

See below.



July 27


6:30 P.M.

Novice Session

Room B-203

Presented by:

Mr. Robert Brayton

Certified Professional Photographer




Planetary Astrophotography




7:30 P.M.

General Meeting

Room B-102


Presented by:Aaron Clevenson, PhD,

Lone Star College,





Following the meeting we will observe The Parade of Planets from the top of the parking garage.


What's Up Doc?"

by Dr. Aaron Clevenson for next month

will be posted on the NHAC Website.


>>>>>NEW ITEMS!  Please read.<<<<<


1.  I will be stepping down as the Newsletter Editor at the end of December. Any club member who has been in the club since the beginning of the year is eligible to replace me.  Please contact me if you are interested.


This position involves putting in about 4 hours preparing the Newsletter during the week prior to the week of the General Meeting.  There is also an Executive Board Meeting every other month which normally lasts about 2 hours, sometimes less.


We are announcing the open position now so that the next Newsletter Editor will have opportunity to participate in putting together several newsletters.


I plan to continue taking responsibility for publishing the newsletter for the rest of this year, while at the same time familiarizing the new Editor.


2.  We are doing a membership questionnaire to determine how we  can best smeet the needs of the membership.  Aaron Clevenson is promulgating the questionnaire, which  will be  able to be completed online.  You can email Aaron if you want.  And he will also have copies of the questionnaire with him at the  coming meeting Friday Night.  This questionnaire was put together by Cliff Hersheim, to whom many thanks!


3.  After the General  Meeting this Friday we will go up to the Garage Rooftop where we will be able to view the Parade of Planets.  This includes, from East to West, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, and Venus.  The only missing planet from the 5 naked eye planets is Mercury, which will be just below the Western Horizon.


4.  On August 6, at about 2:33 P.M., there will be a transit of the Sun by the International Space Station, visible from the vicinity of Beltway 8 and Lake Houston Road.  This is vague, I know.  The ISS sometimes has its orbit modified and that will cause the visible  footprint to shift.  The predicted time will likely not change much.  Right now  it appears the Creekwood Middle School will be a good viewing point.  Note the transit will only last 2 or 3 seconds, so don't be late.





5.  A-Day 2018 will be September 15 at the George Observatory.  The All Clubs Meeting will be the night before at Houston Museum of Natural Science.  NHAC will be very involved.



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


Due to Hurricane Harvey flood damage at the LSC Kingwood Campus, we have had to move our meetings for the forseeable future to temporary "quarters" at the Lone Star

College 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 SH 242, just west of IH 45.  We will meet in Room B-102.  B-102 is on the ground floor of Bldg. B, adjacent to the Parking Garage on the west end of the Montgomery Campus, at the back corner.

The Novice Sessions will be held in Room B-203, on the second floor almost exactly above Room  B-102.


Snacks will continue to be the Subway Sandwiches, with volunteers welcome to help with the pickup of the food.  The cost will be paid out of voluntary contributions from previous meetings.  We are paying for it ourselves, in other words.


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: https://www.astroleague.org/


A recently new program  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 summer 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: <aaron@clevenson.org>


3.   Follow-up Item:  Spectroscopy at Insperity.

For those interested in learning about Spectroscopy, Dr. Bruce Pollard, PhD, NHAC, is our expert.  There is an ongoing program to develop the Spectroscopy program at Insperity,  and Bruce is a very effective teacher.


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.  In the July Novice Session Dr. Aaron Clevenson, PhD, will be presenting information on the Planet Mars, which will be at its nearest and brightest since 2003.    This will 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, and Mars will be only 7° South of Luna.


5.  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.



6. The  remaining General Meeting Schedule for 2018 is:

July 27

August 24

September 28

October 26

November 16

December 14



Star party

August 11, 2018

This month the Star Party actually falls on the New Moon! Sunset will be 8:07 P.M.  The moon will not rise at all.

Venus will be about 10 ° above the horizon, and very bright.  Jupiter will be South, about 40° above the horizon. Saturn will be to the Southeast, about 30° up, climbing steadily.  Pluto will be below Saturn, 10° up, and also climbing steadily.  Mars will be rising about 8:45 P.M., and will be bright as soon as it climbs above the haze and light pollution.  It will be a great evening to view the 5 brightest planets, including the one we stand on.  And if Pluto is on your bucket list, weather permitting, it will be a great evening to give it a try.


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 the Messier hunters, M13 in Hercules, many in Virgo, Coma Berenices, Ophiuchus, Sagittarius, and Scorpio will be visible.  In Scorpio, M4 is big, gorgeous, and an easy catch.  M80 is a little more difficult.


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 telescopes

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

August 11                                                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

Public Night will be on Friday,

August 3, 2018


Sunset will be at  8:13 P.M.  The moon will not rise until after midnight 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.  This may be an excellent chance to see Mars in a big scope!


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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