May, 2014

Volume XIV, Number 5

 This coming Month's  events:

May 23-- General Meeting, Kingwood College

May 24-- Star Party and BBQ, O'Brien Dark Site

June 6-- Insperity Observatory Public Night

Please see below for more information.


 2014 Remaining General Meeting Schedule

June 27

July 25

August 22

September 26

October 24

November 21 note: third Friday

December 19 note: third Friday

May 23, 2014

Novice Program

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

This month's topic is "Finding Celestial Objects in the sky, using Celestial Coordinates and Star Charts"

Presented by

Ken Dwight,

North Houston Astronomy Club


General Meeting

7:30pm in the building CLA Teaching Theater


"The Sun: Now in STEREO"

Presented by

Annie Wargetz, a former member of NHAC, who is a Solar System Ambassador, University of North Dakota Space Science Graduate, currently working with the Orion Capsule Team.


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 24 at the Star Party/BBQ.

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

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/BBQ on May 24 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.  Please see "Rusty's Ramblings" below.


6.  Sky and Telescope Magazine, May issue, has an informative article on a probable meteor shower set to occur on the morning of May 24, a few hours after our General Meeting the evening of May 23.  It will possibly be fairly spectacular.  Weather permitting, a trip out to the O'Brien Dark Site will be in order to see it.  The timing is especially good in that it will occur after midnight, so it will not interfere with our meeting.  Also, it will be early Saturday morning from a little after midnight, peaking about 2:30 A.M., and ending before dawn.  This will leave the rest of the weekend to recover.  If you have not yet made a trip to the O'Brien Dark Site, this might be a good occasion for an introduction.  Moonrise will be about 3:36 A.M. so there will be a good dark sky for much of the night.

7.  Astronomy, May issue, has a very good article describing the origin of the Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram.  This diagram is fundamental to understanding the the behavior of stars, and was a real breakthrough when it was developed.  The article includes a good discussion of the diagram itself.  If you have never "studied" the theoretical aspects of Astronomy, this article is well worth your time.  As well as Ejnar Hertzsprung and Henry Russell, who contemporaneously developed the understanding which led to the diagram itself, the article describes the role of Annie Jump Cannon of Harvard College Observatory of classifying hundreds of thousands of stellar spectra, and who was instrumental in developing the data incorporated in the "H--R Diagram."  In her time, ladies were not considered "astronomers" but to me she is one of the giants of Astronomy.

Star Party/BBQ May 24, 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 May 24 will be at 8:16 P.M. and by 8:45 the sky should be dark enough for viewing.  Moon rise will be 4:15 A.M. so the night will be good for observing if the cloud cover permits.

The time for the BBQ is not finalized, and will be announced at the General Meeting on Friday night.  GIven that Sunset is 8:16, I am guessing that Socializing will begin around 4:30 or 5:00, food will be available at 5:30 until perhaps 7:00, which should give time for clean-up to be complete by 7:30, and allow time for all observers to commence setup by 7:30.  These times are speculative on my part, but should be fairly close.

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

June 6, 2014.  Sunset will be at 8:20 P.M.

Doors will open at 8:00 to 8:15 P.M. and remain open to the public until 10:00 P.M.

Remaining 2014 Insperity Public nights are projected to be:

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 Astronomy, 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, Mars, and Saturn 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;

By my personal experience, we have a tremendous wealth of talent in the club, with very experienced observers who want to help any of us Novices if they are asked.

After my plea at last month's meeting for assistance in collimating my newly acquired 10" SCT, I was invited to bring it over to the Insperity Observatory.  Dave Clark and Aaron Clevenson assisted and guided me through the process, and I now have a very sharp scope.  After their project of helping me was completed, we could see some of the features on Mars, which was a first for me.  My 10" did not compete with the observatory's 16" of course, but it would not even have been useable without Dave and Aaron's help, and using some of the Observatory equipment.

Then last night at Insperity Dave Tomlin took me under his wing, and talked me through using the 20" scope and the CCD Camera with supporting software.  We used the computer to look up the ephemeris for C/2012 K1 PanSTARRS, the currently approaching comet.  We entered the R.A and Dec. into the telescope controlling software, and slewed the scope to the comet. The comet itself was in the camera view, not quite centered, but right there. After centering it by taking a couple of 60" exposures and correcting the scope's alignment, we used the astronomical imaging software to take 25 images of 60 seconds each.  We then checked the images for quality, and stacked them to bring up a significantly brighter image.  It was a useful image, by the way, to compare with a similar image taken a couple of weeks or so in the same fashion.

This was my first exposure to these various processes, and I was intimidated.  Thanks to Dave, Dave, and Aaron I am less intimidated, and am excited to be able to go next opportunity and learn more.  Now at least I have a framework of concept upon which to base further learning.

Folks, we have a research grade observatory a 15 minute drive from the Kingwood College, and several experienced observers with lots to share.  We do not have to drive to the George Observatory at Brazos Bend to have great scopes available.  On any good weather evening there is likely to be at least one observer from the NHAC at the Insperity Observatory.  For a club with mostly amateur astronomers, it just doesn't get any better than this!

This coming Friday night after the meeting Aaron is planning to open the Observatory to the public to see the meteor shower, if the weather permits.  There will also be some of us at the O'Brien site, again if the weather permits.  As for the shower itself, it may or may not develop-- we just have to wait and see.

Fellow members of this astronomy club, come join join us at the Insperity Observatory or at the O'Brien Dark Site.  If you have an interest in astronomy, you will not be disappointed.

See you at the meetings on Friday the 23rd.

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.