February, 2014

Volume XIV, Number 2

 This coming Month's  events:

February 28-- General Meeting, Kingwood College

March 1--BBQ and Star Party O'Brien Dark Site

March 7-- Insperity Observatory Public Night

March 29-- Messier Marathon

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

February 28, 2014

Novice Program

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

This month's topic is "The Messier Marathon"

presented by Dr. Aaron Clevenson

Regular General Meeting

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

"SN 2014 J, The new SuperNova in M82"

presented by Dr. Aaron Clevenson

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


1. The NHAC officers in 2014 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.   If you have any questions for any of the officers, please ask.

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.  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. 

5.  We welcome all our new members and hope you will come out to enjoy the BBQ Star Party on March 1 at the O'Brien Dark Site.  Even if there is not a wonderful sky for observing, it is still a great time visiting with other club members in an informal setting.

6.  Although many members missed the January General Meeting due to the forecast icy weather and therefore missed the presentation by Mr. Nugent of the International Occultation Timing Association, they can still see 2 links for checking out the activities and procedures of the IOTA :

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!

7.  The Novice Session for January, "Introduction to Astronomy" which was cancelled due to the forecast icy conditions has been rescheduled to the Novice Session in March just before the General Meeting.

8.  For the BBQ Star Party please note the earlier time.  The gates open at 2:00 P.M., and the grill will be cooking from 3:30 until 5:00 P.M.

Star Party and BBQ March 1, 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 March 1 will be at 6:22 P.M. and by 7:00 P.M. should be dark enough for observing.

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

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:

The latest “What’s Up With the Astronomical League is now available on the League’s website.


This issue features:

Award information for:

  • National Young Astronomer Award (NYAA)
  • Jack Horkheimer Service Awards
  • Jack Horkheimer/O’meara Journalism Award
  • Webmaster Award
  • Mabel Sterns Newsletter Award

Tribute to John Dobson

2014 Public Nights

March 7, 2014  Sunset is at 6:24 P.M.

Doors will open at 6:30-6:45 and remain open to the public until 10:00 P.M.

Remaining 2014 Insperity Public nights are projected to be:

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.

This has been a weird winter! Mostly the weather has been persistently poor for observing, both cloudy and at times very cold, by Southeast Texas standards.

But then came the Supernova SN 2014 J, first noticed on January 22 purely by chance.  And that has brought lots of excitement.  Aaron will be telling us lots about it.  I am looking forward to his presentation.

I was out in the driveway on Wednesday evening looking at M82, and I could see the SN in my 8" reflector with averted vision, but not when I looked directly at it.  I am fighting a big light pollution challenge here in Tomball so I don't see much, and have no estimate about the magnitude.  But it was fun.

See you on Friday.

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.