Archive for the astronomical history 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

Advertisements – 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 – 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

Jupiter Gets It In The Eye!

Posted in amateur astronomy, astro blogs, astronomical history, Jupiter, observing, space, urban skies with tags , , , on July 21, 2009 by bellaireastro

Many places are reporting today that yes indeed amateur astronomer Anthony Wesley discovered that Jupiter was hit by something rather large. In 1994 comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 hit Jupiter with spectacular results. In this image by Mr. Wesley the dark spot at the top of the image isn’t normally seen. It was clearly something new and different and it turns out to be an impact.

Anthony Wesley from Canberra, Australia has captured a new impact spot on Jupiter. Credit: Anthony Wesley

Now there are professional astronomers adding more observations with more sophisticated equipment but this is the discovery of a lifetime for an amateur astronomer so congrats to Anthony Wesley of Murrumbateman Australia.

This image shows a large impact shown on the bottom left on Jupiter's south polar region captured on July 20, 2009, by NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility in Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Credit: NASA/JPL/Infrared Telescope Facility

Infrared Image of impact zone

The NASA Infrared Telescope Facility in Hawaii took this image which shows not only the impact area but the debris scattered in the upper atmosphere. Check out the post over at Universe Today for more information.

LRO Images of Apollo Landing Sites

Posted in astronomical history, IYA, Lunar Exploration, moon, NASA, observing, robotic astronomy, space, Student Astronomy with tags , , on July 18, 2009 by bellaireastro

Amateur astronomers are often asked if one can see the Apollo landing sites with their telescope and the answer is no. Even with Hubble we can’t get the needed resolution for such small scale structures. But the NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is in a high orbit around the Moon as part of a series of new lunar missions and on July 17th the LRO team released a series of images of the Apollo landing sites. You can clearly see the spacecraft and the shadows they cast but the LRO is still a long way from the lowest orbit which happens in August so I suspect better resolution images will come later in the year.

Labeled LROC image of Apollo 11 landing siteLabeled LROC image of Apollo 16 landing site

Notice the proximity of the HUGE craters! Too close for comfort!

There is a lot of talk about the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing which is coming up on July 20th, 2009. Of course there are those that still believe NASA faked the entire thing. I wonder if these images will change anyone’s mind.

The image showing the Apollo 14 landing site shows what the LRO team claims are the tracks of the astronauts as they set up scientific equipment on the lunar surface. That is just incredible stuff.

Labeled LROC image of Apollo 14 landing site

Seriously… astronaut tracks. COOL!

40 Years Ago Today Apollo 11 Launched

Posted in astronomical history, IYA, Lunar Exploration, moon, NASA, space, The Big Picture with tags on July 16, 2009 by bellaireastro

Apollo 11 launched was 40 years ago today. The great photo blogging site “The Big Picture” posted a fantastic set of images documenting the entire trip.

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the Moon July 20th 1969.

There is a flash driven and quite cool site dedicated to remembering the Apollo 11 Moon landing called so check it out.


Posted in astronomical history, IYA, moon, observing, space, Student Astronomy, urban skies with tags on July 15, 2009 by bellaireastro

So a few months ago I ordered a Galileoscope so I could have a new toy and also to see if the simple scope is good for my astronomy classes.

Today it showed up on my doorstep and I put it together.

First off the unboxing.

I set out all the pieces. The lenses are glass and the rest is plastic and rubber. Note the tissue paper included to avoid getting fingerprints on the lenses.

The instructions for assembling the scope were clear and simple. Note the lens needs to be inserted in a specific direction.

Putting the tube together and getting the focuser in place and installing the telescope ends was all very simple.

The eyepieces were a tad more difficult. The small lenses are hard to work with. Getting the lenses in the correct configuration and in the right spot took some fiddling and here the directions weren’t as clear. For example there is a second eyepiece that barely gets a mention in the directions and I found myself trying to remember lens optics stuff from introductory physics. Still it wasn’t too bad.

The eyepieces fit neatly into the completed tube and the simple focus-by-sliding worked very well. I got a couple of shots through the scope with my digital camera.

This is a GREAT project for families or schools. The work doesn’t really require an adult to supervise although it may make the process easier. I say go buy one now. I plan to get a classroom set if I can. The scope seems easily enough to disassemble so you can show how the thing works and how to put it together.

Completed Galileoscope

Sidewalk Astronomy at HPL Central

Posted in astronomical history, IYA, moon, observing, space, Student Astronomy, sun, urban skies with tags , on June 15, 2009 by bellaireastro
Kirby S checks out the view at a local star party

Come on out June 29th to the downtown Houston Public Library Central branch for some sidewalk astronomy from 6 pm – 8 pm. The moon and sun will be our targets as well as anything else worth taking a look at. Check out the Google Maps view of the area to figure out how to get there.

During the summer months night comes very late to the Houston area but there is still plenty of astronomy to be done. Most people assume urban environments prevent any astronomy at all but that isn’t true by a long shot. Besides if we don’t try to educate people about the joys of astronomy they are less likely to help prevent light pollution in our cities.

Sidewalk astronomy in the big city has been an ongoing effort ever since John Dobson set up his home-made scope in the 1960’s in San Francisco.

Come out and see the sky from downtown Houston!