November, 2015

Volume XV, Number 11

This Month's  remaining events

November 20 --  General Meeting, Lone Star College,

Kingwood Campus

Next Month's Events

December 4 -- Insperity Observatory Public Night

December 12 --  Star Party and Bar-Be-Que! O'Brien Dark Site

December 18 -- General Meeting, Lone Star College,

Kingwood Campus

Note this date.

November 20, 2015

Novice Program

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


"Triton: An Introduction to Neptune’s Largest Companion"

Presented by:

Mr. Todd Sullivan

General Meeting

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

CLA Lecture Hall

Main Lecture Subject:

"100th Anniversary of the Theory of General Relativity"

Presented by:   Professor William Leach, Lone Star College

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



1.  Please make a note:  The General Meetings for  November and December have all been changed to the third Friday to avoid conflicts on the fourth Friday.


2.  Please be aware of the importance of paying your dues for 2016 before the meeting on December 18.  The ByLaws require that all officers be paid up members for the year for which they are being elected.   An elected officer cannot pay his dues after the election.  He will simply be ineligible to be elected.

To ease the sting of paying an extra $5.00 under the "old" dues structure, any members paying their dues before the new dues structure will receive a Fundana together with their dues for 2016.

The new Dues structure will be, effective in March:

          Individual Membership        $20.00

          Family Membership             $25.00

          Student Membership           $  5.00(remains the  same)


3. 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


4.  Our Astronomical League Coordinator is Jim Barbasso. 

The Astronomical League URL is:


5. 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.


 6.  2015 Remaining General Meeting Schedule:

November 20 Note the date!

December 18 Note the date!

2016 tentative Meeting Schedule:

January 22

February 26

March 25

April 22

May 27



August 26

September 23

October 28

November 18

December 16

7. 2016 Tentative Executive Board Initial Meeting Schedule:

Early January, 2016


8. Observing opportunity: Leonid Shower, excerpted from:


Get out the blanket and the lawn chair, this year's show peaks under dark skies November 17, 2015.  (ED:  That will be Tuesday night/Wednesday Morning.)


The annual Leonid meteor shower will appear under dark skies in 2015. Yet no one knows for sure what this year’s version has in store for us. Estimates range from a few meteors up to dozens of meteors per hour at the peak.

Predicting meteor rates, particularly for the highly variable Leonid shower, has been difficult for astronomers through the years. But the longer we watch and the more data we collect, the better the estimates get. In 2015, most scientists who research such events expect a rate of 15 Leonids per hour around the peak. Add that to the normal “sporadic” rate from meteors not associated with a shower, and you should see a shooting star somewhere in the sky every three minutes on average.

Although predictions are modest, spikes in activity can occur at any time. The shower’s peak occurs across North America before dawn November 18. The Moon will be a waxing crescent, so it will only interfere if you observe before moonset, around 10 p.m. local time. Even then, bright Leonids should shine through nicely.


The Leonids have that name because if you trace all the meteor trails backward, they would meet within the Sickle asterism (a group of fairly bright stars that resembles a backward question mark) of the constellation Leo the Lion. Astronomers call that point the radiant. To find Leo in the sky, first locate the Big Dipper in the northeast. Poke a hole in the bottom of the Big Dipper’s bowl. As the water runs out, you may hear a mighty roar as the water falls on the back of Leo.

Particles in the Leonid shower are debris shed by the comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle. In 1865, astronomer Ernst Tempel discovered the comet, and in 1866, another astronomer, Horace Tuttle, independently found it. The comet itself measures about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) in diameter and orbits the Sun with a period of slightly more than 33 years.

As it makes its closest approach to the Sun, it also passes close to Earth’s orbit. This last happened February 28, 1998. Our 2015 encounter with the debris stream from Tempel-Tuttle will last from November 6 to the 30th, but the most intense part (when we’ll see the most meteors) typically lasts only two to three hours.


Veteran meteor-watcher and Astronomy Contributing Editor Raymond Shubinski provides a bit of viewing advice: “Your best viewing will be at a dark site miles from any city. Bring binoculars, but observe with just your eyes because you want the widest field of view. The binoculars are just in case you spot any smoke trails from the meteors.”

Take a lawn chair, cookies, fruit, and a nonalcoholic beverage. (Alcohol interferes with the eye’s dark adaption as well as the visual perception of events.) Most importantly, dress warmly, preferably in layers, and bring extra blankets. Leonid watching involves no movement or exercise. You’re either sitting or standing, and — because it’s November — you will get cold.

The best advice you’ll hear is to observe after midnight. This is the time when those locations on Earth face the direction our planet orbits the Sun. After midnight, then, Earth is running into the meteor stream.

If you can head out only after sunset, face generally east and look one-third to one-half of the way up in the sky. Glancing around won’t hurt anything. Between moonset (10 p.m.) and about 2 a.m., look overhead. And after 2 a.m., aim your gaze halfway up in the western sky.


9.  I have moved the URL for the 2017 Solar Eclipse here to the Notes section for ease of access.  I will keep it here through the August, 2017, Newsletter.

 August 2017 Solar Eclipse URL:

or simply google <2017 solar eclipse>


Bar-Be-Que Star Party December 12, 2015!

Sunset will be at 5:23 P.M. and the moon will set at 6:54.  Weather permitting, we should have a very nice evening for observing after the Bar-Be-Que.  Knowing James, he will want to start cooking about 3:30 to allow time for all to enjoy the food, and allow time for clean-up before the sunset.

If you would like to bring desserts or other side dishes, they would be welcome.

We had a great Bar-be-Que Star Party on September 12.  The food was great, thanks to James and all those who brought Side Dishes and desserts.  The weather was comfortably cool, and the field was dry.  It was a very nice evening!  As is always true, many thanks to Wanda and Tim O'Brien for our being able to enjoy the dark site.  See pictures below.

We will have our next Bar-Be-Que Star Party on December 12, and weather permitting, we would like to repeat our success of September.  Please do come out and join us.

If you are new to the club  this is especially for you.  You, the members, are the reason we have social events such as this, and it is a great occasion to get your feet wet observing.  We do have 10" Dobsonian scopes available at the Dark Site for your use.

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 driving time North of Dobbin off of State Highway 105 west of Montgomery.

Star Parties are routinely scheduled for the Saturday on, just before, or just after the New Moon throughout the year.  This is to provide the best opportunity for dark skies.

2015 Remaining Star Party Schedule:

December 12, with Bar-Be-Que.

2016 tentative projected schedule, subject to change:

January 9

February 6

March 5

April 2  Bar-Be-Que

May 7 Bar-Be-Que

June 4

July 2/30?

August 27

September 24 Bar-Be-Que

October 29 Bar-Be-Que

November 19

December 17

NHAC is a proud member of:

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

Public Night will be on December 4, 2015.


Sunset will be at  5:21 P.M. Central Standard Time, and the moon will not be a factor.  It should be a dark night.

Doors will open by about 5:00 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 usually about 75 guests, sometimes more, on 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.  Then after all our guests have departed, several of us usually stay for a while and enjoy the views.

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 is at Jack Fields Elementary School, 2505 S. Houston Ave., Humble, TX 77396



Rusty's Ramblings


Hello, NHACers:

We attempted to have a Bar-Be-Que Star Party but were thoroughly rained out.  So, staying on (wet) pavement, several of us gathered at the Insperity Observatory, setting up across the parking lot at a fair sized gazebo there.  James brought the NHAC Grill from the O'Brien Dark Site container and lots of food. Several of the participants brought various side dishes, and we all had a good time.

(Thanks, James, for going way out of your way for making it possible!)

Afterwords most of us stopped in at the Observatory to see what was new.  For a few, it was their first opportunity to visit the Observatory.  There was obviously no observing, but it was nonetheless a good time.

Please notice I have an observing article as # 8, in "Notes" above about the coming Leonids, overnight on Tuesday, November 17.Also of note, there is an approaching Comet which may become visible to the eye in December.  It is Comet C/2013 US10 (Catalina).  It will be an early morning comet, and should reach maximum visibility around the end of November and remain visible throughout December.

A good website for information is:






Clear Skies, All,


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 normally held each month on the fourth Friday.  In the months of October, November and December they are usually rescheduled for the third Friday of each month, so as to not conflict with the Annual All Clubs meeting, Thanksgiving, or Christmas.