August 2018

Volume XVIII Number 8


This Month's Upcoming events


August 24

General Meeting

Lone Star College,

Montgomery Campus

Do not go to the Kingwood Campus!

See below!


Next Month's Events


September 7

Insperity Observatory Public Night.

See below.


September 8

Star Party

O'Brien Dark Site

See below.


Friday September 14th

All Clubs Meeting

at the Houston Museum of Natural Science 1 Hermann Circle Drive, Houston 77002

Registration begins at 7:00pm, Meeting starts at 7:30pmOur All-Clubs speaker will be Dr. C. Renee James from Sam Houston State University.



Saturday, Sept 15th

Houston Astronomy Day at the George Observatory

Brazos Bend State Park- 21901 FM 762 Rd, Needville, TX 77461


from 3:00pm-10:30pm.


The Houston area clubs (NHAC, FBAC, HAS, JSCAS, plus the clubs in Beaumont and Huntsville) join forces to put on  A-Day.  There will be plenty of activities for kids, and adults as well as numerous scopes to look through, face painting, button making, club table and outdoor and indoor talks.  We are in need of volunteers from all the clubs.   There is more information on the A-Day site (

Here is the link for the main volunteer list:


If you are interested in working one of the domes or a deck scope, please contact the appropriate person below.


Research Dome contact:

Tony Wiese:


West Dome Contact:

Bruce Pollard:

East Dome contact:

Charles Hale:

Deck Scopes contact:

Keith Rivich:

For sign ups to the main list (button making, food etc) please contact any of those listed below:

Leonard Ferguson

Tony Wiese

David Haviland

Jamie Martin

Aaron Clevenson



September 28

General Meeting

Lone Star College

Montgomery Campus!

See below.



August 24


6:30 P.M.

Novice Session

Room B-203

Presented by:

Rusty Hill

Amateur Astronomer, NHAC



What I wish I had known when I started Observing




7:30 P.M.

General Meeting

Room B-102


Presented by:Mr. Will Barnes, MS Physics, Rice University


Why is the Sun So Hot?

A Current Perspective on Coronal Heating


What's Up Doc?"

 for next month

by Dr. Clevenson

will be posted on the NHAC Website.


>>>>>REPEAT ITEM!<<<<<


I have not yet heard of any member volunteering to be the Newsletter Editor as of 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.


Our Club will benefit if someone starts

now to learn the ins and outs of the position.  I learned on the job, and it was a learning process.  Jamie Martin was a big help, but a bit of a learning period was and is still inevitable.


Somebody, please?


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.



 >>>>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:


A recently announced 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.


Another 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.

Astronomy Magazine for September has a very interesting article on Pg. 44 about the history and development of Spectroscopy in Astronomy.  By the title it is about William Huggins and how he shaped Astrophysics, but as you read the article you realize it about the development and use of Spectroscopy in calculating the red- or blue-shift of the spectra of various objects.  This breakthrough was critical in developing our understanding of the Universe.  The article is fascinating.


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.


If you would like to do hands-on 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.


And as it happens, there is a very apropos article in the September issue of Sky and Telescope Magazine about RSpec, a real time spectroscopy program which is affordable and can be used to process and examine Spectrographic images.  The developer of the program, Tom Fields, also sells the Star Analyzer grating filters which I am currently using.  This is an excellent "how to get started" article. It is on Page 68.


4.  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.



5. The  remaining General Meeting Schedule for 2018 is:

August 24

September 28

October 26

November 16

December 14


6.   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, and will be running the West Dome.



Star party

September 8, 2018

This month the Star Party actually falls again within 24 hours of the calculated New Moon.  Sunset will be 7:37 P.M.  The moon will not rise at all until it is becoming daylight in the morning.


At 8:00 P.M. Venus will be about 15° above the horizon, and very bright.  Jupiter will be Southwest, about 28° above the horizon. Saturn will be almost due South, about 37° up. Mars will be Southeast, 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 again be a great evening to give it a try.


The Summer Triangle of Deneb in Cygnus, Vega in Lyra, and Altair in Aquila will be well up overhead.  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 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.

It will also be possible to find and enjoy the Double Cluster between Perseus and Cassiopeia with binoculars.  There may also be a comet, 21P, Giacobini-Zinner, which may be  visible.


We are due for some nicer weather.  Let's hope....


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

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,

September 7, 2018


Sunset will be at  7:36 P.M.  The moon will not rise until after midnight and will be no factor.


Doors will be open by about 7:15 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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