December, 2015

Volume XV, Number 12

This Month's  remaining events

December 18 --  General Meeting, Lone Star College,

Kingwood Campus

Next Month's Events

January 1 -- Insperity Observatory Public Night

January 9 --  Star Party O'Brien Dark Site

January 9-- New Moon

January 22 General Meeting, Lone Star College,

Kingwood Campus

December 18, 2015

Novice Program

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


"Winter Skies and New Year's Highlights"

Presented by Dr. Bruce Pollard

General Meeting

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

CLA Lecture Hall

Main Lecture Subject:

"Astronomy in Chile Educator Ambassadors Program"

Presented by: Mike Prokosh, Huntsville Amateur Astronomy Society, AAVSO

"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 Meeting for December has been changed to the third Friday to avoid conflicts on the fourth Friday.  In January, 2016, Regular Monthly General Meetings will resume on the fourth (4th) Friday each month until November, 2016.


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:

December 18 Note the date!

2016 Meeting Schedule:

January 22

February 26

March 25

April 22

May 27



August 26

September 23

October 28

November 18

December 16


7. 2016 Executive Board Initial Meeting Schedule: Wednesday, January 13, 2016


8. Observing opportunity: Geminid Shower, excerpted from Astronomy Magazine:


Break out the blanket and the lawn chair. This year’s Geminid meteor shower will be a gem. When the shower peaks December 14, as many as 120 meteors an hour will be visible at sites free from city lights.

And this year’s Geminid meteor shower is at its prime under dark skies just three days after New Moon. That leaves no moonlight to wash out the bright streaks from this prolific meteor shower.

(following quotation from November slightly edited-Rusty)


"No astronomy activity is easier or more social than meteor watching,” says Astronomy Senior Editor Michael E. Bakich. “You don't need any equipment except a chair. Just grab some friends, bundle up, and watch the show."


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. Meteor watching involves no movement or exercise. You’re either sitting or standing, and — because it’s December — 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.


SIDE NOTE:  The Geminids are reportedly forecast to to be very active on both the 13th and 14th.  Sunday night, the 13th, will likely be pretty wet at the O'Brien Dark Site, but it may have dried out some by Monday evening.  If you have a fairly dark location which is paved, it might be worth going out on Sunday night.  Monday night the weather is forecast to be mostly clear, and should be good viewing, although the sky will not be as pretty, according to the forecast, as Sunday night.  If you are planning to go out to the O'Brien Dark Site, do remember to request access the day before.


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>


Star Party January 9, 2016!


Sunset will be at 5:39 P.M. and there will be no moon.  Weather permitting, we should have a very nice evening for observing.


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.


2016 tentative projected schedule, subject to change:

January 9

February 6

March 5 - Messier Marathon

April 2  Bar-Be-Que

May 7 Bar-Be-Que

June 4

July 2/30

August 27

No date in September

October 1,29 Bar-Be-Que

November 26

December 17

NHAC is a proud member of:

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

Public Night will be on January 1, 2016.


Sunset will be at  5:32 P.M. Central Standard Time.

Doors will open by about 5:15 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 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:


Boy, do I have egg on MY face!  Probably because I had just done some writing about the Bar-Be-Que Star Parties, I had them on my brain.  However it happened, I made up a Bar-be-que Star Party out of whole cloth and published it as though it were true.  James being the good sport he is, he agreed to hold a Bar-Be-Que Star Party this evening just as though it were real.  It fell through due to the weather, which is sad.  It might have been fun to have it.  Oh, well.


Thanks, James!


There are two observing opportunities coming up the next 2 days.  One is the Geminids Meteor Shower, mentioned above in Note # 8.


The other is Comet C/2013 US10 (Catalina).  It is an early morning comet, and should remain visible throughout December.   Around 5:00 in the morning is the best time for viewing it.  I understand it is easily visible in binoculars or a small telescope.

A good website for information is:


Bear in mind this article was written for publication in November, some of the information is dated.  But the general information as well as the December information is good.


Another useful website with good information on comets as well as other solar system objects is:


Simply click on "comets" and scroll down.  As well as giving you the current position, it also will give you ephemeris for any date, time, and location.  It does allow you to enter your observing location so the site can give you the object's altitude for your location at the time you give it.  I have found it a very helpful site.


I will not be at the December 18 meeting.  It is a little matter of Donna's and my wedding anniversary, and she is Number 1.


Have a good meeting, and I will see you in January.


Merry Christmas, and PLEASE have a SAFE New Year's Eve and New Year!


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.