APRIL 2019

Volume XIX Number 4





General Meeting

Lone Star College - Kingwood







Public Night

Insperity Observatory



Star Party

O'Brien Dark Site


MAY 11

Regional Astronomy Day at the 

Insperity Observatory (RADIO)


MAY 24

General Meeting

Lone Star College - Kingwood






6:30 P.M.

Room CLA 221

Lone Star College - Kingwood Campus


"Looking Up In May"

Presented by Dr. Bruce Pollard

NHAC Vice President


Dr. Pollard will describe the night sky during May, the transition month between winter and summer. 




7:30 P.M.

Room CLA 112

Lone Star College - Kingwood Campus


"Our Sun, Our Star"

Presented by Prof. William Leach

 Physics Department, Lone Star College - Kingwood


Prof. Leach will discuss the most important star in our lives, the Sun.





-----  NOTICES  ----- 


1. On May 11, NHAC will host the Regional Astronomy Day at the Insperity Observatory (RADIO).  This is a regional event involving the astronomy clubs and organizations in the Houston area and provides an opportunity for sharing our interests with the public as well as fellow enthusiasts.  There will be activities for all ages including solar and night sky viewing.  There will be lots of opportunities for club members to assist in these activities.  To volunteer or for more information, please check the website:



2.  NHAC's 2020 calendar is in production.  NHAC is going about the club's calendar in new way. The 2020 design will feature photos from our club and will contain more information than all others. Be on the lookout in the coming days for more information, and how to enter your photos or artwork.  Space is limited. (Well, technically, Space is expanding)  All participants will receive ... (something) and anyone featured will receive ... (something).


3.  Meetings are held at Lone Star College - Kingwood in Rooms CLA 221 (Novice Session) and CLA 112 (General Meeting).  For a map of the LSC - Kingwood Campus, please refer to the NHAC website:




4.  The NHAC Executive Board for 2019 is:

President --  Carlos Gramajo

Vice-President --  Bruce Pollard

Secretary --  Mike Comeaux

Treasurer --  Joana Tan

Newsletter Editor --  Jesse Roberts

Astronomical League Coord. --  Aaron Clevenson

Webmaster --  Justin McCollum

Observation Committee Chair --  James Billings

Membership Committee Chair --  David Dutschmann

Program Committee Chair --  Open

Immediate Past President --  Susan Pollard


5. The monthly issue of "What's Up, Doc" by Dr. Aaron Clevenson is linked at the NHAC website.


6. Our Astronomical League Coordinator is Dr. Aaron Clevenson.

In conjunction with NASA, the Astronomical League Observing Program Division has developed a new NASA Observing Challenge Award to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo landings on the Moon. Participants may either image or observe and sketch the six Apollo landing sites, and do an outreach event related to the Apollo Missions.


Learn more about the Apollo Observing Challenge, and watch for announcements of new programs at 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>


7.   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 the Insperity Observatory,  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.


8.  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.


9. Club meetings in 2019 will be:

April 26

May 24

June 28

July 26

August 23

September 27

October 25

November 15

December 13


10.  Club dues are

Students $10

Individuals $30

Family Groups $40




May 4, 2019


In May the Star Party is on May 4, the day of the New Moon. The Sun will set at 8:03 P.M. and the Moon will set just before the Sun.  By 8:45 it will be fairly dark, and by 9:00 it will be dark enough for good observing, weather permitting.


This may be the last chance of this winter/spring season to see Orion and M-42.  They will be pretty low in the west.  Higher in the sky will be Auriga, Gemini, and Canis Major, among the easily seen constellations.  Leo with its very bright star Regulus will be overhead, while Virgo with its plethora of Messiers and galaxies will be nicely up in the east.  Somewhat to the north will be Ursa Major, with its several Messiers.  Personally my favorites are M-81 and M-82, and they will be well positioned to be found, again weather permitting.



We are planning to have another "Non-BBQ" in May.  We are hoping that a food event of some sort might break out, but we do not want to jinx the Star Party.  We do contemplate that if the weather were decent and anyone were to be hungry, 6:30 might be a good time to wander by.  Cooking might have started by about 6:00.  As always, if anybody were to have brought some "emergency rations" such as salads, veggies or desserts  to share in case of need,  they would contribute to the festive atmosphere.


Also as always, any help offered in cleaning up would be welcome, so the cook (James) and his staff would also have opportunity to set up.


Due to the weather the First Annual NHAC Messier Challenge was an almost complete bust.  It appears that only James Billings, Jesse Roberts and I (Rusty) were actually able to log some sightings, but the observing evenings were few and ended early due to conflicting schedules and the early moisture causing equipment to get pretty wet.  I personally wanted to get up early some morning to observe the late evening Messiers, but had no cooperating weather.


The final reported score was James with 35 Messiers using a Dobsonian telescope, Rusty with 20 using a 9x63 binocular, and Jesse with 14 using his 10x50 binocular.  As often happens, Aperture Rules!


If anyone has results we do have not heard about, please let James or me know.


We do anticipate having the Messier Challenge again next year, using the same rules.  We will make announcements in the spring.


Star Party and Dark Site Procedures


If you are new to the club, Star Parties 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  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.


New Moon and planned Star Party Dates for 2019 are:


New Moon                     Star Party

-----------                       ---------------

May 4                           May 4 + a "Non BBQ"!

June 3                          June 1

July 2                           June 29 (2 new moons in July)

July 31                         July 27

August 30                     Aug. 31

September 28               Sept. 28

October 27                    Oct. 26  + BBQ

November 26                 Nov. 23

December 25                 Dec. 28



NHAC is a proud member of:

The Astronomical League:  https://www.astroleague.org/

Night Sky Network: https://nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov

International Dark Sky Association:  https://www.darksky.org   

Astronomical League/NASA Night Sky Network/International Dark-Sky Association


Public Night will be on Friday,

MAY 3, 2019


Doors will be open by about 7:30 P.M. and remain open to the public until 10:00.  Sunset will be at  8:00 P.M.  The moon will set at 6:57 P.M. and will not be a factor.


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, and provides an awesome view of the sky.  There are usually about 75 to 100 guests, sometimes more, on Public Night, with many 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 can be an opportunity to see a new  or favorite object in a large telescope.



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. The address is: 


Jack Fields Elementary School

2505 S. Houston Ave.

Humble, TX 77396



For more information, the web site is https://humbleisd.net


The Observatory phone number is 281-641-STAR (7827).


Dates and times are subject to change.

----- About NHAC  -----


The North Houston Astronomy Club (NHAC) is a not-for-profit organization, formed for educational and scientific purposes, for people of all races, creeds, ethnic backgrounds and sex.  Our primary purpose is to develop and implement programs to increase the awareness and knowledge of astronomy, especially for those living near the north side of Houston, Texas.


NHAC is  dedicated to providing an opportunity for people to pursue the science of astronomy, to observe in a dark-sky site, to learn the latest technology, and to share their knowledge and experience. Thus, our “Observe-Learn-Share” motto.


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.


The benefits for membership include:

>  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.

>  Astronomical League membership, with its many  observing programs.

>  Subscription to the Astronomical League magazine "Reflector".

>  Access to the NHAC library

>  Discounts on purchases at Land, Sea and Sky.  Be sure to identify yourself as an NHAC member.


North Houston Astronomy Club is Sponsored by:

NHAC Website:          http://astronomyclub.org/nhacwp/


NHAC mailing address:  

North Houston Astronomy Club
Post Office Box 5043
Kingwood, TX 77335-5043


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