January 2014

Volume XIV, Number 1

 This coming Month's  events:

January 24-- General Meeting, Kingwood College

January 25-- Star Party O'Brien Dark Site

February 7, 2014-- Insperity Observatory Public Night

Please see below for more information.

 2014 Remaining General Meeting Schedule

February 28

March 28

April 25

May 23

June 27

July 25

August 22

September 26

October 24

November 21 note: third Friday

December 19 note: third Friday

January 24, 2014

Novice Program

 6:30 - 7:15pm in the Cosmic Forum, upstairs in the CLA building.

This month's topic is "Introduction to Astronomy

presented by Russell "Rusty" Hill

Regular General Meeting

Beginning at 7:30pm in the building CLA Teaching Theater

 "Occultations and Their Timing"

presented by Mr. Richard Nugent

of the Houston Astronomical Society

representing the

International Occultation Timing Association


What’s Up Doc?” by Aaron Clevenson for the month of December will be posted on the Website.


1.  The annual election of Club Officers was held at the General Meeting on December 20 at Kingwood College.  With thanks to Joe Wagner as the Nominating Committee, the elected officers are:

President--                              George Marsden

Vice-President--                       Desiree Carmona

Secretary--                              Susan Pollard

Treasurer--                              David Lambert

Newsletter Editor--                   Rusty Hill

Astronomical League Coord.--   James Barbasso

Webmaster--                           Jamie Martin

Observation Committee Chair-- James Billings

Membership Committee Chair-- Stuart Davenport

     Board Approved Co-Chair--  Joe Wagner

Program Committee Chair--      Todd Sullivan      

If you as a member would like to assist one of the officers or committee chairmen, I would like to invite you to help out with your ideas and participation. 

2.  2014 Remaining Executive Board Meetings:

March 12

May 14

July 9

September 10

November 12

Any and all members in good standing are welcome to attend any of the Executive Board meetings.

3.  Our Astronomical League Coordinator is Jim Barbasso.  The Astronomical League website is http://www.astroleague.org/

4.  The Comet Report is available online.  

5.  Name Badges: 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. 

6.  We welcome Harry Berry, Jody Cristenson, Kenneth Laurora, George Carlson, and Delany Maberry as new members.  We are glad you have chosen to join us.  Please do come to the Novice and General Meetings, and come out to the Dark Site as well.  We are definitely an observing club.  Our next Star Party is the Regular Star Party on January 25 at the O'Brien Dark Site. Please see below.  We look forward to seeing you. 

7.  The Texas Star Party, one of the Nation's premier Astronomy Events, will be held at the Prude Ranch, near Ft. Davis and the McDonald Observatory in West Texas on May 25 - June 1, 2014.  Lodge rooms, Rv sites, and Tent camping are all available.  There is a limit of 500 Astronomers, so a drawing will be held among all applications.  To be considered in the drawing an application must be submitted by January 22, 2014, at: http://texasstarparty.org/get-started/

Information about activities is at http://texasstarparty.org/news/

8.  We have members who are interested in Astronomy computer programs, particularly Megastar and SkySafari 4 PRO.  If you have any experience in these and perhaps other Astronomy computer programs, please share your thoughts and experiences with other members by simply addressing an email to <NHAC@mail.netslyder.net>

9.  We had a successful outreach program at the Knox Junior High School in The Woodlands on January 15.  The Organizer was Jamie Martin, with Aaron Clevenson, Desiree Carmona and her family, James Billings, Joe Wagner, George Roffe, and Rusty Hill helping.  The students were enthusiastic and seemed to enjoy themselves.  In spite of the very bright moon, it was a good time.

10.  General Meeting Speakers in the near future will include Aaron Clevenson in February covering the Messier Marathon, and Desiree Carmona in April discussing the History of Astronomy.  We will announce other speakers as we have commitments.

11.  Mr. Nugent has sent us 2 links for checking out the activities and procedures of the IOTA organization:

http://www.poyntsource.com/IOTAmanual/Preview.htm (380 pages),

 or the short introductory 11-page version:


Myself, I plan to start with the short version, first!

Star Party January 25, 2014

The Board of Directors has decided the focus of the Star Parties will be to give as much assistance as possible to new observers.  Sunset on January 25 will be at 5:54 PM.

For the Star Party itself, the plan continues to be for a number of the more experienced observers to attend each of the Star Parties, with telescopes, so we "novices" will know there is someone who is planning to be at the Star Party with equipment and the desire to share knowledge.

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 actual Dark Site location is password protected.  Any 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 10 minutes after you leave Dobbin going north.

Star Parties are routinely scheduled for the Saturday on or just before the New Moon throughout the year.  This is to provide the best opportunity for dark skies.

Inclement weather, of course, can force Star Party cancellation or postponement.

 2014 Remaining Star Party Schedule

January 25

March 1-- BarBeQue

March 29-- Messier Marathon

April 26

May 24-- BarBeQue

June 21

July 26

August 23

September 20

October 18-- BarBeQue

November 22

December 20

NHAC is a proud member of:

2014 Public Nights

February 7, 2014  Sunsets at 6:03 P.M.

Doors will open at 6:20-6:30 and remain open to the public until 10:00 P.M.

Remaining 2014 Insperity Public nights are projected to be:

February 7

March 7

April 4

May 2

June 6

July 4-- might be moved

August 1

September 5

October 3

November 7

December 5

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 see, otherwise.  The Observatory has a 16" and a 20" telescope, each computer controlled, which provide awesome views of the sky.  There are typically 30 or 40 guests at the Public Night, several repeating, who are very appreciative of the opportunity to expose their kids to Astromony, and who enjoy the observing in their own experience, as well.  And then after all our guests have departed, several of us usually stay for a while and enjoy the views.  I (Rusty) have seen more detail on Jupiter from the Insperity Observatory than at any other time or place.

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 Humble Elementary School on the East side of S. Houston Ave.

For information, see the web site

*Dates and times are subject to change.

The Insperity Observatory at Humble ISD, 2505 S. Houston Ave., Humble, TX 77396


Rusty's Ramblings...

Hi Everyone.

Coming off the Christmas/New Year holidays, with all of us settling into 2014, and having just experienced a season of lousy weather for observing, there is not too much to report.

For the past several days, though, the skies have been beautiful.  I hope everyone has had a chance to get out and appreciate the night sky.  Jupiter is awesome right now.

I want to encourage everyone, especially newcomers to the club, to come out to the O'Brien Dark Site on Saturday after the Friday General Meeting, and to the Insperity Observatory for Public Night on February 7.  Whether or not you own observing equipment, there will be plenty of good equipment to try out.  And particularly the 16 and 20 inch scopes at the Insperity Observatory are awesome to look through.

Taking Jupiter for an example, and you really shouldn't miss the opportunity to see it, it is very bright to the naked eye.  In binoculars it is a definite sphere, and with good conditions you may see the Galilean Moons.  In a "normal" backyard scope, 3" up to maybe 10" or so, you can easily see the 2 major bands as well as the Galilean Moons.  And with the LARGE scopes at the Insperity Observatory and decent seeing conditions, you can see some of the minor bands and some other details.

The first time I saw Jupiter through a cheap 2 1/2" "department store special" scope and could pick out the 2 bands and the moons, it made the hair on my neck stand straight up.  And when I get a good view, it still does.

Come on out and see for yourselves!

Clear Skies,


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 & Sky. Be sure to make your NHAC membership known when making a purchase.
  • Loaner telescopes after being a member for 6 months
  • Observe from Dark Sky Observing Sites
  • Learn from experienced amateur astronomers
  • Share your knowledge at club hosted picnics and star parties
  • Discount magazine subscriptions (contact our Treasurer)
  • Includes membership in the Astronomical League
  • The quarterly Astronomical League magazine “Reflector”
  • Borrow from the NHAC “Library”
  • Eligibility for NHAC Executive Board

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 held each month on the fourth Friday.