MAY 2019

Volume XIX Number 5






MAY 24

General Meeting

Lone Star College - Kingwood







Star Party

O'Brien Dark Site



Public Night

Insperity Observatory



General Meeting

Lone Star College - Kingwood



MAY 24



6:30 P.M.

Room CLA 221

Lone Star College - Kingwood Campus


"Using Stellarium"

Presented by Rusty Hill

NHAC Observing Committee


Stellarium is a widely used, open source planetarium software for computers.  As part of his general interest focus, "What I wish I had known when I started Observing," Mr. Hill will discuss and demonstrate the latest version of Stellarium.   Time permitting, other observing software will also be discussed.




7:30 P.M.

Room CLA 112

Lone Star College - Kingwood Campus


"The Sun, Our Star!"

Presented by Prof. William Leach

 Physics Department, Lone Star College - Kingwood


In the April meeting, Prof. Leach discussed the general characteristics of stars.  In the May meeting, he will continue that discussion and will delve into our relationship with Our Star, The Sun.  





-----  NOTICES  ----- 


1. The May/June issue of AAA Texas Journey contained an article about efforts by the International Dark Sky Association to save dark skies in the southwestern United States. Read more about it at:       




2.  NHAC's 2020 calendar is in production.  We are going about the club calendar in a new way. The 2020 design will feature photos from our club and will contain more information than all others. Details will be forthcoming about how to enter your photos or artwork.  


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. 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 NHAC Astronomical League Coordinator is Dr. Aaron Clevenson.  He can be contacted at <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:

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




JUNE 1, 2019


In June the Star Party is on the first, two days before the New Moon. The Sun will set at 8:21 P.M. and the Moon will have set about an hour and a half earlier.  By 8:45 it will be fairly dark, and by 9:00 it will be dark enough for good observing, weather permitting.


Orion with M42 and 43 is gone for the summer.  Mars, in Gemini, will be visible for a bit, but it will be setting early. On the eastern horizon, Jupiter in Scorpio will be rising.  Jupiter is quite bright and easily seen.  Leo with its very bright star Regulus will be overhead, while Virgo with its plethora of Messiers and galaxies will also be overhead.


In the Northeast, Lyra with M57 will be rising as the Summer Triangle starts making its appearance.  Somewhat to the north will be Ursa Major, with its several Messiers.  Personally my favorites are M81 and M82, and they will be well positioned to be found, again weather permitting.  I am mentioning these in hopes that we will be able to have a Star Party in June and see some of the objects we missed in May.


As of now there is no BBQ planned until October.



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

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

June 3                          June 1

July 2                           June 29

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,

JUNE 7, 2019


Doors will be open by about 8:00 P.M. and remain open to the public until 10:00.  Sunset will be at  8:20 P.M.  The moon will be in the western sky and will be about 26% illuminated.


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 established in 1999, 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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