July, 2016

Volume XVI, Number 7

This Month's  remaining events


July 22

General Meeting, Lone Star College,

Kingwood Campus


July 30 will be the second Star Party in July, due to the Full Moon being on August 2.

O'Brien Dark Site


Next Month's Events


August 5

Insperity Observatory Public Night


August 26

General Meeting

Kingwood Campus

July 22, 2016

Novice Program

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



What I wish I had Known When I started Observing

Presented by Rusty Hill, NHAC


General Meeting

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

CLA Lecture Hall


"What's Up Doc?"

by Dr. Aaron Clevenson for next month

will be posted on the NHAC Website.



1.  The 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/


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:


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>


6.  If the weather should be good on the night of our General meeting, July 22,  it is likely that some members will go to the Insperity Observatory after the meeting.  If you have opportunity to come by, it would be a good opportunity to check it out.  Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars are spectacular in the large telescopes.


7.  Here is a link to the first image taken and returned to Earth from Juno at a distance of 2.7 million miles from Jupiter.  There is some informative audio in this clip.  You may need to copy and paste in your browser.




Star Party July 30, 2016!


Sunset on July 30 will be at 8:18 P.M. and there will be only a sliver of moon, at 4:31 A.M. Sunday Morning.  Weather permitting, we should have a very nice evenings for observing.


If you are new to the club  this is especially for you.  We, the members, are the reason we have observing 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:

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 August 5, 2016.


Sunset will be at  8:10 P.M. Central Standard Time.


Doors will be open by about 7:50 P.M. 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.  Our guests are very appreciative of the opportunity to enjoy and 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.



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


Observatory Phone number is 281-641-STAR.


Rusty's Ramblings



Hello, NHACers:


There has not been a lot happening lately.  The days are so long and the summer haze is so noticeable that observing has been limited.


I did have a couple of opportunities to sit out late at night, in Kerr County west of San Antonio, with only my bifocals for visual aid.  The sky there is pretty dark.  I could pick out constellations and the occasional Messier, such as M7, which is very noticeable even to the naked (bifocal) eye.  The Milky Way was awesome, with lots of dust lanes.  I was able to pick out all 7 of the Ursa Minor Little Dipper Stars, so the sky was actually pretty good.


On one occasion I did take out my binocular, a 9x63, to look at the easy planets.  The wind was blowing so hard it was difficult to see Saturn’s rings as they waved back and forth across the binocular field.  But I could tell the planet was oval shaped.  Woo Hoo!


I had no trouble finding M13 in Hercules, once I found it!  Yeah, that is what I meant to say.  It was hiding right overhead.


In fact I learned something.  I knew Hercules is to the west of Lyra, and a line from Sadr, the center of Cygnus, through Vega, in Lyra, goes through  Hercules.  But I couldn’t find it!


OK, now consult the Pocket Sky Atlas.  Coming from the other direction, let’s start with the Big Dipper, arc to Arcturus, make a hard left turn to the east, go through Corona Borealis, and there is the big rectangle in Hercules.  Still couldn’t find it.  I was feeling like an idiot!


Alright, now I was desperate. Hold the Sky Atlas page up to the sky, turn it so it is well aligned to North, and look for the pattern.  OHHH, there it is!


And of course having located the “Keystone” in Hercules, M31 was easy, and a very nice view in my binocular.


So I learned that Hercules near the center is mostly Magnitude 3 stars, with Magnitude 1 and 2 stars in the same region of the sky.  And in a really dark sky it is hard to pick out Mag 3 stars when there are so darned many stars!  There is no substitute for using a chart to properly orient yourself so the shape of the constellation is what you expect.  Simple, fundamental, obvious, but a really good reminder!


I hope you are able to come to the Novice Lecture this month.  You can help me laugh at myself!



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.