Archive for the amateur astronomy Category

Greater Houston Astronomy Coaltion

Posted in amateur astronomy, astronomical history, astronomy eduction, books, sidewalk astronomy, Student Astronomy, urban skies with tags , , on June 7, 2010 by bellaireastro

HPL Central Astro Display

The Houston Public Library was kind enough to let me put together a display for the 2nd floor.

Hopefully people will see the display and discover the Houston astronomy community. There are several area clubs each serving a different part of the metro area and we often collaborate on star parties and for the annual Astronomy Day event held at the George Observatory.

Astronomy Day 2009

The best way to learn about astronomy is to check out one of the area clubs. There are novice presentations and lots of chances to ask questions and meet the experts. You don’t have to join to come to a meeting so give us a try!

The Houston Astronomical Society meets monthly at the Science & Research Building 1 at University of Houston.

The North Houston Astronomy Club meets monthly at Lone Star College-Kingwood building CLA

The Ft Bend Astronomy Club meets monthly at the Houston Community College Stafford Campus.

The Johnson Space Center Astronomical Society meets at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Clear Lake.

If your school, scout troop, or other organization is interested in having a star party hosted for your group, contact us using the Night Sky Network. We can schedule events with a few or a lot of telescopes or lectures and demonstrations.

100 Hours of Astronomy

Sidewalk Astronomy @ HPL

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Solar Observing Online

Posted in amateur astronomy, astro blogs, astronomy eduction, observing, software, space, Student Astronomy, sun, urban skies with tags , , , on April 19, 2010 by bellaireastro

The sun will become more and more active as it the 11-year solar cycle swings from the slow and quiet to the loud and wild. You can follow along using some online solar observing tools. SOHO is still my favorite but Big Bear offers some excellent ground based views and the newer STEREO spacecraft has 3-D views and its own iPhone app!

Check em out…

Spring Break Star Party

Posted in amateur astronomy, astronomy eduction, observing, space, Student Astronomy, urban skies with tags on March 14, 2010 by bellaireastro

Come out to the Bellaire High School track this Wednesday from 7pm – 9pm for some solar observing and some star gazing!

SkyandTelescope.com – News Blog – The Big Dipper Adds a Star

Posted in amateur astronomy, astro blogs, astronomical history, astronomy eduction, exoplanets, observing, sidewalk astronomy, Sky & Telescope, space, stellar astronomy, Student Astronomy, urban skies with tags , , , on December 13, 2009 by bellaireastro

SkyandTelescope.com – News Blog – The Big Dipper Adds a Star.

One my favorite targets for me and for star parties is the optical pair Alcor & Mizar and Mizar is also a binary system itself which is apparent through pretty much any telescope.

Alcor and Mizar

Alcor and Mizar

In reality each of the stars in the Mizar pair is a binary making the whole telescopic view a total of 6 stars when you include the star that also shows up in the field-of-view.

Alcor's new companion

Alcor a & b

Recently astronomers at the Palomar observatory were looking for extra-solar planets using near-infrared techniques and discovered that Alcor also is a binary system! That makes a total of 7 stars when you look at that one spot in the Big Dipper. Read more over at SkyandTelescope.com

How has the internet changed amateur astronomy?

Posted in amateur astronomy, astro blogs, IYA, observing, podcasts, Social Networking, Student Astronomy with tags , , , , on December 1, 2009 by bellaireastro

When someone becomes interested in astronomy those of us that are more experienced generally have some advice:

1) Don’t buy too little or too much telescope meaning make sure you get a good quality but get something you will actually use and you don’t have to break the bank!

2) Find a local club to join where you can learn and ask questions and be a part of a community of other astronomy enthusiasts.

But what it means to be a part of an astronomy community has been transformed by social networks, blogs, virtual observatories, and a the rapid way that information is spread online.

Social networking seems to be changing lots of things about the way people communicate and access information. Astronomy is no different. In fact it seems social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook have had a big impact on the way amateurs connect with one another. Face-to-face clubs aren’t going away, but the experience of being a part of a community of people with a common interest can also happen online.

Twitter – the 140 character limit requirement makes astronomy tweets short and sweet. Here are a few ways that Twitter is changing amateur astronomy:

  • Instant access to professional and amateurs from everywhere
  • New community of astronomers with a different dynamic
  • Information is disseminated rapidly about astro events and news

140 characters at a time

Facebook – you can connect with millions of like-minded astronomy fans, coordinate groups and events, and even post photo albums using Facebook. Here are a few ways Facebook is changing amateur astronomy:

  • Networking with astronomers of all stripes
  • Can be used by individuals and clubs for communication and event coordination
  • Can post images & links

Facebook can manage events

Connect with millions of astronomy peeps

Blogs – If you take a look at the blog roll on this site you can see just a sampling of the kinds of astronomy blogs that are out there. From professional astronomers and science writers and space agencies, to astronomy educators, to observation logs, to astronomy news, to podcasts you can really see the wide variety and quality of astronomy material available in blog form.

  • As a reader you can get ALL the news out there for all astronomy topics sooner than the print stuff
  • Many publications are using blogs and other online content to entice readers or reward subscribers
  • As a blogger you can help spread news and contribute yourself and be a part of astronomy blogging community

Forums– When you are looking for help with astronomy equipment or astrophotography or need reviews and advice on what to buy or sell or if you want to exchange ideas with other astronomers you can probably find a forum.

  • CloudyNights.com is the best place to get reviews and ask questions about equipment as well as to find a thriving marketplace for used stuff.
  • UnmannedSpaceFlight.com is a serious place for the armchair astronaut. You can keep up with the latest on robotic spacecraft or rovers and share in the excitement as new images are plucked from obscure web servers and open for discussion.

Virtual Observatories – anyone can access professional-quality equipment and access real research data with these tools.

  • Galaxy Zoo lets anyone be a part of the science using robotically collected data. Users categorize galaxies and mergers better than any software.
  • Tzec Maun Foundation is non-profit group that gives access to telescopes and clear dark skies for education and research purposes.

Tips for Viewing the Geminid Meteor Shower | Universe Today

Posted in amateur astronomy, astro blogs, IYA, meteor shower, observing, sidewalk astronomy, space, Student Astronomy, Universe Today, urban skies with tags , , on November 26, 2009 by bellaireastro

Tips for Viewing the Geminid Meteor Shower | Universe Today

Here are some tips for viewing the upcoming Geminid meteor shower from Sean Welton from Universe Today

Geminids 2009

Occurring every year in mid-December, the Geminid meteor shower is commonly referred to as the most reliable meteor shower of the year. That is, it almost always puts on a great show!

The Geminid meteor shower is sure to be a stunning show this year, as the Moon will not be visible at night, so its glow will not impede your meteor viewing ability. In addition, the Geminids’ radiant is favorably positioned for most viewers at this time of year. In order to see the most meteors, I suggest the following tips:

  • The Geminid meteor shower has a very broad maximum peak. Because of this, the night on which you view the meteors isn’t critical. You will of course, see more meteors on the peak nights. This year the Geminid meteor shower’s peak is the night of December 13th-14th, 2009.
  • The best time to view a meteor shower is in the late night to early morning hours. The best time to view a meteor shower typically begins around 2 AM. This is because as the Earth rotates toward dawn, the forward velocity of the planet adds to the linear velocity of the surface and atmosphere. This has the effect of “sweeping up” more meteors.
  • If you’re not normally awake at 2 AM, like many people, simply go to sleep very early and set an alarm clock to wake you up to view the meteor shower. Trust me on this point, it is definitely worth it.
  • The Geminid meteor shower’s radiant is right near the twin bright stars Castor and Pollux in Gemini. Click the image at top right to see a map (thanks to Stellarium). The trick, however, isn’t to look towards the radiant, but to keep your eyes on the whole sky. While it’s impossible to look at the whole sky, just keep your eyes scanning and alert. This increases your chances of seeing a fleeting meteor or one out of the corner of your eye.
  • Darkness is key to proper meteor shower viewing. If you live in a city or other light polluted area, try going to a dark sky site to truly experience a meteor shower. You might be surprised how close a dark sky site is to you! Here are some tips on finding a dark sky near you.

 

More New Looks at Mercury from MESSENGER | Universe Today

Posted in amateur astronomy, astro blogs, Mercury, MESSENGER, NASA, observing, robotic astronomy, space with tags on October 1, 2009 by bellaireastro

There is a post over at Universe Today all about the MESSENGER mission to Mercury and the latest and greatest photos of the under-explored planet.

Universe Today: More New Looks at Mercury from MESSENGER

Bright spot on Mercury. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Check out the paw print made from craters. Cool….

Craters form a paw print on Mercury. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington