April, 2014

Volume XIV, Number 4

 This coming Month's  events:

April 25-- General Meeting, Kingwood College

April 26-- Star Party, O'Brien Dark Site

May 2-- Insperity Observatory Public Night

Please see below for more information.


 2014 Remaining General Meeting Schedule

May 23

June 27

July 25

August 22

September 26

October 24

November 21 note: third Friday

December 19 note: third Friday

April 25, 2014

Novice Program

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

This month's topic is "History of Astronomy"

Presented by

Desiree Carmona, Vice-President,

North Houston Astronomy Club


General Meeting

7:30pm in the building CLA Teaching Theater

"What Happened at Los Alamos?"

Presented by

Professor William Leach, Lone Star College


What’s Up Doc?” by Dr. Aaron Clevenson for the month of May 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 http://www.astroleague.org/

This website also features a section entitled "What's Up With The Astronomical League."


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 for the monthly Star Party on April 26 at the O'Brien Dark Site.  Even if there is not a wonderful sky for observing, it is still a great time for visiting with other club members in an informal setting.  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.  Sky and Telescope Magazine as an interesting article on the discovery of the first "Earth-like Planet" which is located in its Star's "Habitable Zone."  The link to the article is located here.

7.  There will be a "Minor" Lyrid shower which typically could produce around 18-20 meteors per hour.  It should peak on the morning of April 22.  For the morning of the 22nd, the moon will rise at 2:07 A.M.  The radiant will be in the Lyra Constellation.  A trip to the dark site is not necessary.  Any open area with not too many bright lights where you can see a "decent" amount of stars should allow you to see some meteors.  But the window of prime viewing from just after midnight until Moonrise is not very great.

Star Party April 26, 2014

Club Policy is that the focus of the Star Parties will be to give as much assistance as possible to new observers.  Sunset on April 26 will be at 7:58 P.M. and by 8:40 the sky should be dark enough for viewing.  Moon rise will be 5:37 A.M. so the night will be good for observing if the cloud cover permits.

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 6 or 7 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

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

May 2, 2014  Sunset is at 7:59 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:

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 strange winter, but we are starting to see observable nights with some regularity now.

The Messier Marathon in March had decent weather, although not perfect.  But there were lots of members and guests there for the BBQ as well as the Star Party.  Particular thanks go to James Billings, Susan and Bruce Pollard, and several other individuals who helped as needed to make the BBQ a success.  (There were lots of terrific desserts!  YEAH!)

The Marathon itself was late enough in the month of March, due to the Moon, that it was impossible to see some of the early twilight Messier objects, so most everyone started 5 or 6 objects down the list of the suggested viewing order.  My memory is uncertain, but I believe James Billings had the greatest number of unaided (Non-go-to) sightings with 19.  Desiree Carmona had about 13 with one of the Club 10" Dobs.  (Way to go, Girl!) I think she now has aperture fever.  (So do I!)  My personal number of objects viewed was a little ridiculous, but I was using a push-button go-to, so it doesn't really count.

I recently purchased from Aaron a 10" Meade SCT, with lots of nice features, previously belonging to Kurt Johnson.  I am enjoying learning to use it.  Comparing it to my 8" Newtonian, it does pick up more light, as expected, and REALLY magnifies what I am looking at.  (2524mm Focal Length vs. 1000 mm.)  However I have not yet figured out the collimation thing, so it is not performing up to its potential.  I think I am going to have to get together with an experienced helper to teach me and be a second pair of hands.  Perhaps after the meeting on Friday in the parking lot, weather permitting, or maybe at the Star Party on the 26th.  Volunteers?

Weather permitting, the night of the 21st/morning of the 22nd I am going to go to a local golf course without many lights to try to see a few meteors.

See you at the meetings on Friday the 28th.

Until then,

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.