February, 2016

Volume XVI, Number 2

This Month's  remaining events

February 26 --  General Meeting, Lone Star College,

Kingwood Campus

Next Month's Events

March 4 -- Insperity Observatory Public Night

March 5-- BBQ Star Party O'Brien Dark Site

March 8 -- New Moon

March 25 -- General Meeting, Lone Star College,

Kingwood Campus

February 26, 2016

Novice Program

 6:30 - 7:15pm in the Cosmic Forum, upstairs in the CLA building, Lone Star College, Kingwood Campus.


Introduction to the Caldwell Objects

Presented by Dr. Bruce Pollard, PhD

General Meeting

 7:30 P.M., Lone Star College, Kingwood Campus,

CLA Lecture Hall

Main Lecture Subject

Remote Presentation by Annie Wargetz

Subject TBD

"What's Up Doc?" by Dr. Aaron Clevenson for next month will be posted on the NHAC Website.




1.  The NHAC officers for 2016 are:

President --                              Aaron Clevenson

Vice-President--                        Bruce Pollard

Secretary--                               Susan Pollard

Treasurer--                               David Lambert

Newsletter Editor--                    Rusty Hill

Astronomical League Coord.--   James Barbasso

Webmaster--                            Justin McCollum

Observation Committee Chair-  James Billings

Membership Committee Chair-  David Tomlin

Program Committee Chair--      Todd Sullivan

2.  Our Astronomical League Coordinator is Jim Barbasso.

The Astronomical League URL is: https://www.astroleague.org/A recent item from the website appears below:

Youth Astro-Imagers!
Enter Your Favorite Shot Into the 2016
Horkheimer/Parker Youth Imaging Competition!
Are you 18 years or younger and do you enjoy the challenges of astro-imaging, whether it be using a smartphone, a handheld digital camera, or a telescope CCD imager? Have you captured an astro-image that you are particularly proud of?
Why not enter your shot into the Astronomical League’s Horkheimer/Parker Youth Imag-ing competition? After all, the first-place winner receives $1,000, second place $500, and third place $250!
Submitted images can be of any astronomical themed subject: an interesting perspective of a planet, a captivating lunar crater, a wondrous deep-sky object, or a wide field scene of the sky at night.
For all the details and rules of the competition, please see https://www.astroleague.org/al/awards/horkhmr/horkhmrs.html. The entry deadline is March 31, 2016.

3.  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.

4.  2016 Remaining General Meeting Schedule:


March 25

April 22

May 27



August 26

September 23

October 28

November 18

December 16

5.  I have moved the URL for the 2017 Solar Eclipse here to the Notes section for ease of access.  I will keep it here through the August, 2017, Newsletter.

 August 2017 Solar Eclipse URL:


or simply google <2017 solar eclipse>



Bar-Be-Que Star Party March 5, 2016!

Sunset will be at 6:25 P.M. and there will be no moon until 4:48 A.M. on Sunday moring.  Weather permitting, we should have a very nice evening for observing.


Since this is a Bar-Be-Que Star Party, we will be setting up early.  I expect food will be served from about 4:00 until 5:00 to allow for clean-up and telescope set-up by sunset at 6:25.

I (Rusty the Newsletter Editor) will come by the (only) Quick Stop Service Station at the (only) stop light in Dobbin on (the only) Highway 105 west of Montgomery to take in a caravan of folks who may not be familiar with the Dark Site location.  I expect to be there by 4:45.  Please y'all be there by 4:40 so the rest of us do not have to wait.


If you are new to the club  this is especially for you.  We, the members, are the reason we have social events such as this, and it is a great occasion to get your feet wet observing.  We do have 10" Dobsonian scopes available at the Dark Site for your use, and there will be several other scopes available for all to try.  And do bring a Binocular-- you can do lots of successful observing with nothing more.


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 NOT FOR THE GENERAL PUBLIC.


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.


2016 tentative projected schedule, subject to change:

March 5 -- Bar-Be-Que

April 2 -- Messier Marathon

April 9 -- Back-up Messier Marathon

May 7 Bar-Be-Que

June 4

July 2

July 30

August 27

No date in September

October 1 Bar-Be-Que

October 29 Backup Bar-Be-Que

November 26

December 17

NHAC is a proud member of:

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

 Public Night will be on March 5, 2016.


Sunset will be at  6:23 P.M. Central Standard Time.


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


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 16" and a 20" telescope, each computer controlled, which provide awesome views of the sky.  There are usually about 75 guests, sometimes more, on Public Night, several repeating, who are very appreciative of the opportunity to expose their kids to Astronomy, and who enjoy the observing in their own experience, as well.  Then after all our guests have departed, several of us usually stay for a while and enjoy the views and each other's company.


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



Rusty's Ramblings


Hello, NHACers:

Winter is normally a good time of the year for observing, and this year, weather permitting, follows true to form.

Shortly after sunset, when it gets dark enough for observing, the Andromeda Galaxy is nicely positioned to the Northeast and high enough for good viewing.  If this is new to you, this is M-31, one of Charles Messier's Catalog of items he did not want to waste time on because they were not comets!  M-31, at about 2.5 million Light Years away, is the furthest object visible to the unaided eye.  From a sufficiently dark site, it can just be made out as a soft glow.  Easily seen with a Binocular or bigger instrument it is a galaxy twice the size of our Milky Way Galaxy.  With a medium telescope, you can just pick out dust lanes spiraling around the central core.

The constellation Orion is beautiful almost directly overhead.  Orion is home to M-42, the Great Orion Nebula.  It is about 1500 light years away, and is the nearest large star-forming region.  It can just be picked out visually, and is a great sight in a Binocular.

Other Messier Objects include the Pleiades, M-45, and the Beehive, M-44,in Cancer.  Both of these are Open clusters which are visible to the unaided eye, although the Pleiades cluster is the more spectacular.  If you have opportunity to view the Pleiades in a Binocular, it is spectacular!

Lots more targets for modest telescopes include M-35 in Gemini, and M-36,37,and 38 in nearby Auriga, as well as 2 galaxies which can be seen in the same telescope eyepiece field, M-81 and 82 are 2 galaxies in the Ursa Major constellation, near the bowl of the Big Dipper.

Jupiter will be rising shortly after sunset, and will be rising higher throughout the evening.  It will be bright and spectacular!  With decent skies, it should be easy to see Jupiter's bands, and the 4 bright Galilean moons, Io, Europea, Ganymede and Callisto will be visible for a while also.  However Europa and Ganymede will be disappearing behind Jupiter around 10 and 11 P.M.  That could be fun to watch for.

All in all, if the weather cooperates, it should be a fun night for observing.  See you there!

Clear Skies, All,


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 identiry 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.