October 2018

Volume XVIII Number 10

This Month's Upcoming events


October 26

General Meeting

Lone Star College,

Montgomery Campus

Do not go to the Kingwood Campus!

See below!


October Observing- Please join us after the meeting this month as we go up to the top of the parking structure to check out the skies.  You can bring your own telescope and binoculars or look through ours.


Next Month's Events


November 2

Insperity Observatory Public Night.

See below.


November 10

Star Party

O'Brien Dark Site

See below.


November 16

General Meeting

Lone Star College

Montgomery Campus!

See below.


October 26

6:30 P.M.


Novice Session

Room B-203


Presented by:

Dr. Bruce Pollard, PhD




"Star Clusters from Birth to Termination"



Dr. Pollard will focus on the two kinds of star clusters: open and globular clusters. He will discuss their formation, their forms and star types, and how they end.  There will also be a discussion of where to look for them and what observing tools to use.

Bruce's lecture will be a wonderful opportunity for novices and experienced observers alike to learn more about the star clusters.   



7:30 P.M.

General Meeting

Room B-102

Presented by:

Dr. Holly Gilbert, PhD 

Director - Heliophysics Science Division

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center



Touching the Sun - a New Age for Solar Science



Our home in space is embedded in the Sun’s extended atmosphere, subjecting the space environment around Earth to dynamic activity that originates in the solar corona.  NASA has a fleet of spacecraft dedicated to studying heliophysics: the Sun and its domain- the heliosphere, including its effects on Earth. Dr. Gilbert will discuss the importance of obtaining data close to the Sun and its implications for space weather research and forecasting.

Note: This will be a web cast.



What's Up Doc?"

 for next month

by Dr. Clevenson

will be posted on the NHAC Website.



 >>>>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, and sometimes a pizza for variety.  Volunteers are welcome to help with the pickup of the food.  The college is not paying for snacks while we are at Montgomery, so we are paying for them out of our own pockets.  It would be a nice thing if those of us who enjoy the snacks would donate a little something to cover the cost.  If all of us donated something, I would think 2 or 3 bucks would cover it.


Also please note that Bill Leach, our faculty sponsor, will be bringing unsold Tee-shirts in various sizes and colors, so you will have opportunity to fill out your NHAC Tee-shirt wardrobe.


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---      Vacant


2.  Our Astronomical League Coordinator is Dr. Aaron Clevenson.  The Astronomical League URL is: https://www.astroleague.org/


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:



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.


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. 


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.

(Rusty, this means YOU!)


5. The  remaining General Meeting Schedule for 2018 is:

October 26

November 16

December 14


Star Party

November 10, 2018


This month the Star Party is 3 days after the New Moon.   Sunset will be 5:29 P.M.  The moon will set at 9:06 P.M.


At 8:00 P.M. the easily seen planets will include Saturn and Mars.  The three day old moon will be a thin sliver low in the west.  If you are looking for the harder to see planets, Pluto, Neptune, and Uranus will be up, but Pluto in particular will be sinking in the west.  Venus is now a Morning Star, rising just after 5:00 A.M.


Saturn is only 16° above the western horizon.  The "Parade of Planets", those easily visible, is about over.  If you have wanted to see Saturn's rings, now is your last opportunity until spring, and then it will be a morning object.


Constellations of note visible in the early evening include  Hercules, Aquila, Cygnus, Lyra, Pegasus, Andromeda, Aquarius, and Pisces as the evening goes on.Towards the North you can see Ursa Minor, Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Perseus, and Triangulum.


Scorpius is gone, and Sagittarius together with Ophiuchus are disappearing rapidly.  It is not summer any more!


For the Messier hunters, the sky is rich and now is the time to catch those in the Ophiuchus and Sagittarius part of the sky.  From West (setting) to East (rising) now is the time to catch these Messier objects: 12, 10, 14, 20, 8, 21, 23, 24, 16, 17, 18, 28, 22, 25, 27, 69, 70, 54, 55, and 75.  M-13 in Hercules will be spectacular, as always.


There will be quite a few others available, but these listed are going to be hard to see next month.  Be sure to log the date and time for any you see, together with any other interesting details.


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.  And of course the Andromeda Galaxy together with M-32 and M-110 will be high overhead.


It will also be possible to find and enjoy the Double Cluster between Perseus and Cassiopeia with binoculars.

November will be cooler, and 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

November 7                                             November 10

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,

November 2, 2018


Sunset will be at  6:33 P.M.  The moon will not rise until well after midnight and will be no factor.


Doors will be open by about 6:15 P.M. and remain open to the public until 10:00.


These Public Nights are a great 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 provides an awesome view of the sky.  There are usually about 75 to 100 guests, sometimes more, on Public Night, with several repeating.  Our guests are very appreciative of the opportunity to enjoy the sky 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 Saturn or 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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