March, 2014

Volume XIV, Number 3

 This coming Month's  events:

March 28-- General Meeting, Kingwood College

March 29-- BBQ and Star Party O'Brien Dark Site

Including Messier Marathon

April 4-- Insperity Observatory Public Night

Please see below for more information.


 2014 Remaining General Meeting Schedule

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

March 28, 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 (A Novice himself) Rusty Hill

Trust me on this:  It will be very basic, but covering some necessary basic points.


Regular General Meeting

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

"Fractal Distributions in the Cosmos"

presented by James Claycomb, PhD, Assoc. Prof. Physics, Houston Baptist University


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:

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


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 29 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.  The main event weather permitting, will be a Messier Marathon.  You do not need observing equipment to attend.  We do have loaner scopes you may use, and there will be several folks there who will be able to offer assistance.


6.  For the BBQ Star Party please note the earlier time.  The gates open at 3:00 P.M., and the grill will be cooking from 4:30 until 6:00 P.M.  Sundown will be 7:40 P.M. so this will allow time after the BBQ for observing setup.

Star Party and BBQ March 29, 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 29 will be at 7:40 P.M. and by 8:30 P.M. should be dark enough for observing.

However, please note the BBQ itself will start earlier, to give time for the BBQ and cleanup before sundown at 7:40.  The preparation and cooking will start around 3:00 P.M., with serving from 4:30 until 6:00 P.M.  Any dishes your would like to bring, be they appetizers, salads, side dishes or desserts will be very welcome.

Our thanks to Mike Kramer and James Billings in particular for making these BBQs happen.

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.  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 29-- BBQ and 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

April 4, 2014  Sunset is at 7:44 P.M.

Doors will open at 7:45-8:00 P.M. and remain open to the public until 10:00 P.M.

Remaining 2014 Insperity Public nights are projected to be:

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.

The weather continues to be uncooperative.

The end.


Seriously, though, I am trying to prepare for the Messier Marathon by learning to find the low to the horizon Messier objects such as M31, 32, 110 and 74 in fairly rapid fashion. They will disappear very quickly in the first few minutes when observing becomes possible after sunset.  This is a good argument for being setup before sunset, and if you have a scope where this is an issue, having any position locating and alignment being completed as soon as possible when brighter stars become visible.  If you are lucky your scope will go to "candidate alignment stars" and you can see them in the scope to be able to complete alignment even before the stars become visible.  At least I hope it works that way!

I am planning on having my Atlas equatorial tracking mount with either a 10" Meade SCT scope or an 8" Newtonian Reflector-- I haven't decided yet.  And if I get wildly ambitious, I might bring a smaller 6"  Alt-Az go-to Meade SCT and if I have time get it set up also.

Having the BBQ earlier and finished well before sunset might make that possible.  We shall see.

If the weather permits, the Star Party/ Messier Marathon on the 29th should be a great opportunity to practice various aspects of observation and learn how to find some of those difficult to see Messier objects.

I hope lots of you will come out on Saturday the 29th for the BBQ and Messier Marathon.  In the meantime,

See you at the meetings on Friday the 28th.

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.