June, 2015

Volume XV, Number 6

This Month's  remaining events

June 26-- General Meeting, Lone Star College

Kingwood Campus

Next Month's Events

July 3 -- Insperity Observatory Public Night

July 11--  Star Party, O'Brien Dark Site

July 24-- General Meeting, Lone Star College

Kingwood Campus


 June 26, 2015

Novice Program

 6:30 - 7:15pm in the Cosmic Forum, upstairs in the CLA building, Lone Star College, Kingwood Campus.

Subject: TBA


General Meeting

 7:30 P.M., Lone Star College, Kingwood Campus,

CLA Lecture Hall


Spectral Data: The Language of the Stars

Presented by Dr. Aaron Clevenson


"What's Up Doc?" by Dr. Aaron Clevenson for the month of June will be posted on the NHAC Website.



 1.  ByLaw Revision Vote at the General Meeting June 26:  The Executive Board has been working for several months reviewing the Club By-Laws.  There is a copy of the proposed Revised By-Laws on the web site.  Please read over, and perhaps print, the proposed Revised By-Laws,  and do attend the Regular NHAC Meeting on June 26, this coming Friday.  We will be voting on the changes during the meeting.  Please all members attend so we will have a quorum.This vote will be on the Proposed ByLaw changes which were announced on the NHAC website in May, and which were discussed at the General Meeting on May 22.


Incidentally, the procedure for amending the By-Laws remains unchanged in the proposed Revision.


Please do not miss this meeting.


2.  The NHAC officers for 2015 are:

President --                               Aaron Clevenson

Vice-President--                        Bruce Pollard

Secretary--                               Susan Pollard

Treasurer--                               David Lambert

Newsletter Editor--                    Rusty Hill

Astronomical League Coord.--    James Barbasso

Webmaster--                             Justin McCollum

Observation Committee Chair-- James Billings

Membership Committee Chair-- David Tomlin

     Co-Chairman--                     Stuart Davenport

Program Committee Chair--      Todd Sullivan


3.  Our Astronomical League Coordinator is Jim Barbasso.  The Astronomical League URL is: https://www.astroleague.org/


Jim has provided the following:

Message from AlCor

    This time of year two things come to my mind, the pending summer heat and humidity-yuk, and the planets, Jupiter and Saturn.  The Astronomical League does have a Solar System Observers Program designed for fellow astronomers who want to learn more about the solar system.  There is much to see and most of the planets are fairly easy to observe, out to Saturn.  Mercury can be a challenge, but it is not difficult.  Uranus and Neptune are a challenge but certainly not that difficult.  Pluto is recently reclassified as a dwarf planet, but for most beginners and well-seasoned amateur astronomers, can be very difficult to find.  This is not a mandatory observation, so don’t concern yourself with Pluto, unless you have the ability to attempt the observation.  You more advanced observers can try this one to challenge your skills.  There are about 34 projects and you need to choose 25 to complete.  Have fun and take your time.  These are learning at your own pace programs.

  The planet Jupiter for example is the largest planet in our solar system (5th from the sun).  It is the first member of the “gas giants.”   Jupiter has a mean radius of 69,911 km (43,694 mi), about 1000 times the spherical size of the earth.  The atmosphere is composed of hydrogen and about 25% by weight helium with other gases, as minor constituents.  It has an orbital period of almost 12 yrs and is about 5 astronomical units (A.U.) from the sun.  One A.U. is the mean distance from the Earth to the Sun (149,597,870 km, 93,498,870 mi).  It takes about 32 min for light from Jupiter to reach us!  Folks, that is far.  Jupiter has a ring system, but we cannot observe this feature with most amateur telescopes.

The distinctive features on Jupiter are the horizontal cloud bands and the “Great Red Spot.”  The planet possesses 50 known moons, but amateur astronomers can see up to 4 on a given observation session.  The Galilean Moons as these 4 moons are called are beautiful to observe and the formation of the moons undergo continuous change even over a couple of hours.  Sometimes one or more moons can cast a shadow onto Jupiter’s clouds, which can be observed (shadow transits).  The Great Red Spot can be observed at certain times but can be a tough one to observe, at times.  There is much more to observe, just with Jupiter, alone.  Each planet has its own unique characteristics.  Saturn with its ring system, Venus with its phases, and Mars with its albedo features-although difficult to see, at times.  Next month I will discuss Saturn.

Good luck and have fun observing these solar system wonders.

A side note from last month’s  message, the source of my information on Mercury was C&EN (Chemical and Engineering News)  4/6/15  for those interested.  Yes ,  I realize this is not  an astronomy periodical.

Clears Skies,

Jim, AlCor


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.  2015 Remaining General Meeting Schedule:

June 26

July 24

August 28

September 25

October 23

November 20

December 18


6. 2015 Remaining Executive Board Meeting Schedule:

July 8

September 9

November 11

7.  I am continuing with the feature of an article of a pure science nature, or as in this case, something from the world of astronomy which is of a "current affairs" nature.  This month's article salutes the "wake up" of the Philae Lander after 7 months of silence.  (The Space Reporter, author Kathy Fey)


The Philae lander studying Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko powered back up on Saturday and sent a message to Earth via the comet-orbiting Rosetta probe. This marked the first time the lander had communicated since last year.

According to CNET, The European Space Agency’s Philae probe sent a second communication on Sunday, which prompted mission engineers to prepare for Philae to resume its work as soon as next week.

Currently, the lander’s communications are fairly weak and only last for two minutes. Ground control needs at least a 15-minute window to send Philae the commands it needs to resume experiments on the comet’s surface.

Mission engineers believe that the lander will have collected enough solar power by next week to allow for the communications needed to resume the lander’s original functions. Currently, the lander is receiving at least three hours of energy-giving sunlight each day, which is more than double what had been expected.

The Philae probe was delivered to the surface of Comet 67P by the Rosetta spacecraft last November, after a ten-year journey from Earth. Philae bounced when it landed, unexpectedly coming to rest in a shaded area which afforded less battery-powering sunlight than planned, and the probe cut off contact after only 60 hours of battery life.

Project scientists hope that Philae will accumulate enough power to resume plans to drill into the comet’s surface to analyze its content.

“What we’re really curious about is what the comet looks like on the inside, that’s where the real treasure chest is,” Mark McCaughrean of the European Space Agency said. “That’s the material left over from the birth of the solar system, which is the real game here.”


8.  Ken Dwight's friend Roger Ivester is with the Las Vegas Astronomical Society and has a website at www.rogerivester.com which features a monthly observing challenge they have been running for at least 6 years.  There are several links, including one to the "Virgo Diamond".  There is also a link to a proposal to change the name to the "Ivester Diamond", as well as lots of information concerning Roger Ivester's family.


Star Party July 11! (We hope!)

Sunset will be 8:28 P.M.

Moonrise will be 3:58 A.M.

For any who wish to observe on a night without a moon, notice the Saturday night/Sunday morning moonrise is 3:58 A.M. on Sunday, give or take rounding errors.  It will be a really moonless night and should be good observing, weather permitting. 

Club Policy is that the focus of the Star Parties will be to give as much assistance as possible to new observers.

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 specific Dark Site location is password protected.  Any club 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.

For planning, I am starting a practice of showing the information for the following month, due to the New Moon occurring a bit earlier each month, and the Star Parties being a week or two before the General Meeting.  For the June 13 Star Party, Sunset will be  P.M., and Moon Rise will not be until A.M.


2015 Remaining Star Party Schedule

July 11

August 15

September 12  BBQ

October 10

November 7  BBQ

December 12


NHAC is a proud member of:

Astronomical League/NASA Night Sky Network/International Dark-Sky Association

2015 Public Night

July 3, 2015.

Sunset will be at  8:26 P.M., and Moonrise will be at 9:48, P.M.

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


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 get to use, 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 Jack Fields 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 Jack Fields Elementary School, 2505 S. Houston Ave., Humble, TX 77396


Rusty's Ramblings

Folks, I do not know what to say!  Although I do know there have been multiple climate changes over the thousands of centuries, this weather this winter and spring must have been caused by politicians' hot air!  I can think of no other explanation!

Actually, it still seems as though El Nino is the main culprit. It appears that the Pacific warm-water current known as "El Nino" is at least partially at cause.  I am still showing this URL to a non-scientific article on the subject:


 August 2017 Solar Eclipse URL:


or simply google <2017 solar eclipse>

Please do come to the meeting this coming Friday.l  We need your vote on the Proposal to change the ByLaws.

Clear Skies, All, and I really, really mean that,


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 and Sky.  Be sure to identiry yourself as an NHAC member.

Loaner Telescopes after being a member for 6 months.

Opportunity to observe from Dark Sky Observing Sites.

Learn from Experienced Observers.

Astronomy Magazine subscriptions at a discount.

Membership in the Astronomical League, with multiple Observing Clubs available.

Included subscription to the Astronomical League magazine "Reflector".

Access to the NHAC Library

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.