APRIL, 2013

Volume XIII, No. 4

 This Month's coming events:

April 26 -- General Meeting, Kingwood College

May 3 -- Insperity Observatory Public Night

May 4 -- Star Party, O'Brien Dark Site

Please see below for more information.

April 26, 2013

Novice Program

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

Dr. Aaron Clevenson


Main Presentation

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

William Leach, Ph.D.

Professor of Astromony, Kingwood College

Subject:  The Higgs Boson


What’s Up Doc?” by Aaron Clevenson

Important Notices


1. NHAC members are now eligible for a discount on purchases at Land, Sea & Sky. Be sure to make your NHAC membership known when making a purchase.


2. The Comet Report is now available online.


3.  Sue Wheatley has given us a tidbit:  It seems that the eye-patches worn by pirates were to protect dark adaption in one eye so they could still see when they went to a lower deck during a fight.  The lower decks were often dark places, and the use of the eye-patches allowed them to retain night vision in one eye.


4.  Astronomers Without Borders has a website which discusses ways to participate in the Global Astronomy Month, April, 2013.  Several of the activities look fun.


5.  The University of California High-performance AstroComputing Center has monthly videos on current activities.  The current issue, actually labelled March, 2013, is entitled "Planets Amidst the Noise".  They also have Archives.


6.  From Jim Barbasso, our AstroLeagueCoordinator:  There is going to be a total Solar Eclipse in August, 2017.  The AstroLeague is proposing to have a combined Convention and Observing Event in Casper, Wyoming, chosen for its combination of being on the centerline of the eclipse, and having a high likelihood of good weather, as well as having airline service and accomodations available.  There is a survey on the website which would be helpful to the League for all of us to fill out.  It is obviously early days yet, but they would like to guage the level of interest in such an event.  Personally, I plan to go if at all possible.


7.  Ken Dwight has come across an article giving information on cleaning a telescope mirror.  This sounds like one of those chores which has to be addressed from time to time.


8.  Name Badges:  We have name badges for many of our members (thanks, Aaron!). Please pick up your name badge when you arrive and wear it during the meeting. We would like for all our members to get to know each other.  Please don't forget to return the badge after the meeting.


9. Next NHAC Board meeting scheduled for May 8 at 7:30pm at Kingwood YMCA conference room.

Star Party, May 4, 2013


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.

For those who may not have been to the O'Brien Dark Site, 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 Saturday on or just before the New Moon throughout the year.  This is to provide the best opportunity for dark skies.

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

The PANSTARRS comet should be nicely visible in the early morning hours just before sunrise.  It is currently passing through Cassiopeia.


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

 April 26 and May 24

NHAC is a proud member of:

2013 Public Nights*

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:

For the past 2 months 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 out.  There are several reasons:

First, there are 120 double stars, multiple stars, and star pairs given to you-- or me-- on a master list, but you can select any 50 out of the 120 for your observations.  You do not need to get all 120. You can focus on any of the constellations which are in the sky at any given time of the year.  You do not need to wait months for some particular double star in some constellation to become visible.

Second, you can do good preparation by finding the stars which interest you in the visible constellations, and mark them on a star chart so you know precisely which stars you will be looking for when you get out to your chosen site-- probably the O'Brien site.

Third, the AstroLeague encourages you to do some of the observations without any binocular at all.  In fact they want you to pick 5 of your pairs and observe them unaided if you can as well as with a binocular.  However if you cannot see them unaided due to your vision or sky conditions, they allow for that.

Fourth, any reasonable binocular will be sufficient.  I have seen some star pairs with a 7x35 binocular, so if that is what you have, go for it.  It will work.  I started with a 7x50, but after trying James Billing's 10.5x70, I bought a 9x63 as an upgrade compromise.  For me they work beautifully.  I will tell you that Aaron likes 10x50, so if you want to try some different binoculars at a star party, there should be several examples to experiment with.  Other equipment includes a thermos, a comfortable lawn chair or lounge, and perhaps a blanket. Oh yes, a red flashlight and your logbook.

Fifth, you are guaranteed to learn some of the night sky.  By the time you learn how to tell which constellations are available on this date over a few hours of the evening, mark the star chart with the double stars which interest you-- maybe with a circle around the double star on the chart of the constellation, then go out and actually locate that constellation and find the particular double star you have circled, and then log the date, time, description, and whatever else they want you to log, you will have learned quite a lot about finding your way around the night sky.

I personally am still working on finishing the total Messier List-- 17 to go-- but as soon as I complete that I plan to try to get all 50 of the required double stars in one night.  It soulds like a real challenge and I might not be able to do it, but I plan to try.

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
  • Discounts on purchases at Land, Sea & Sky. Be sure to make your NHAC membership known when making a purchase.
  • Loaner telescopes
  • 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”
  • Borrow from the NHAC “Library”
  • 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.