Febuary 2017

Volume XVII, Number 2

This Month's  remaining events

February 24

General Meeting, Lone Star College,

Kingwood Campus


February 25

BBQ Star Party

(Note: BBQ!)

O'Brien Dark Site



Next Month's Events

March 3

Insperity Observatory Public Night


March 24

General Meeting

Kingwood Campus



Star Party

Messier Marathon!

O'Brien Dark Site

January 27, 2017

Novice Session


Comets: What are they and how to observe them?

Presented by:

Our own "Professor Comet"

aka Mr. Justin J. McCollum, MS Physics



Main Meeting

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

CLA Lecture Hall


Presentation Subject:

Shooting Stars:

Backyard Astro-photography in the New Millennium


Presented by:

Mr. Robert Brayton, Certified Professional Photographer, PhotoVideoSound,

NHAC member



What's Up Doc?"

by Dr. Aaron Clevenson for next month

will be posted on the NHAC Website.



1.  The Officers for 2017 are:

President --                              Susan Pollard

Vice-President--                        Bruce Pollard

Secretary--                               Margot Moreno

Treasurer--                               David Lambert

Newsletter Editor--                    Rusty Hill

Astronomical League Coord.--   James Barbasso

Webmaster--                            Justin McCollum

Observation Committee Chair-  James Billings

Membership Committee Chair-  Ken Dwight

Program Committee Chair--      Todd Sullivan 


2.  Our Astronomical League Coordinator is Jim Barbasso.

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


3.  New Item:  Several members have been participating and making progress in the Insperity Observatory Spectroscopy Project, and several NHAC members have expressed an interest in joining us.  I have put together a "Spectroscopy Group" in my email handler so I can keep the participants informed.  If you are interested but have not received any of my recent emails, please let me know and I will include you.

FYI, the basic plan is to pick any good weather evening during the week to work on developing our knowledge and capability.  Some of us are also available on weekends.  For example, Justin McCollum and I spent several hours with the Spectroscope last night (Friday), and got lots done.

If you would like to learn starting at the beginner level, (as I am doing) there is a good book available on Amazon by Ken M. Harrison: "Grating Spectroscopes and How to Use Them".  $31.15.  There are other books, also.

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.

5. The remaining General Meeting Schedule for 2017 is:

February 24

March 24

April 28

May 26

June 23

July 28

August 25

September 22

October 20 or 27

November 17

December 15


6.  For the 2017 Solar Eclipse on August 21, there is updated information on the NASA webpage.  If you have a desire to see totality on August 21, you need to be learning where you want to be, and deciding how to be there.  For example, James Billings and I are renting an RV so we can travel to Nebraska, initially.  Then the day before we will decide where along the path of totality we want to be, depending on the forecast weather, and travel to the selected location.  If you do not want to miss it, now is the time to be planning and setting up for it.

This link gives historical weather along the path of totality:


This next link gives the NASA site for extensive planning information for viewing the eclipse:


If you haven't made your personal plans to be at the path of totality, you need to get on it.  From what I am hearing, hotels and campgrounds along the path are already full in some places.


7.  Astronomy Magazine has a Bulletin of 100+ pages including around 50 pages of strip maps of the geography under the path of the totality of the eclipse, showing roads, parks, rivers, etc.  I think it is well worth the money, about $20.


8.  There is an Outreach Event planned at the Atascoita Walmart on April 29.  This event is strongly supported  by the manager of the Walmart, including publicity, space and food.  Jupiter, Luna, Mars, and Orion's Belt will all be visible, so it should be a good viewing and publicity opportunity.  This is only the third event held here, but it is developing quite a following.


 Star Party:

February 25, 2017!

Sunset on February 25 will be at 6:18 P.M. and there will be no moon.  If the weather cooperates, it should be a very nice evening for observing.

This Star Party will be a great opportunity to see the Crescent Venus-- yes, Venus-- in almost any telescope.  It is high in the evening sky, and is very pretty in the eyepiece.  It is also an opportunity to observe visually the effect of Venus being in orbit around the Sun.

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 familiar with 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.


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.


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.


The anticipated schedule for the 2017 Star Parties,

subject to change, is:

February 25 (BBQ)

March 25 (Messier Marathon)

April 1 Backup Messier Marathon

April 22 (BBQ)

May 27 (Backup BBQ)

June 24

July 22

August 19

September 16

October 21 (BBQ)

November 18

December 16

NHAC is a proud member of:

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

 Public Night will be on March 3, 2017


Sunset will be at  6:22 P.M.  There will be a 33% moon which will be visible above the Observatory walls all evening.  The terminator should be striking in the large telescopes at the Observatory.

Right now Venus is very bright in the evening sky.  In a almost any scope it is easily viewed as a sharp crescent, similar to a crescent moon.  It is gorgeous!  Come on over and look at it!


Doors will be open by about 6:00 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, with 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


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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