**Cancelled – tonight’s star party, 3/1/16**

Please note that tonight’s star party has been cancelled due to the overly cloudy weather. Hope to see you at our next event on the 30th! In case of a possible reschedule, we will post updates here, so stay tuned…

Spring 2016 Star Party Schedule

2016.1.6 STAR Party Poster FINAL

The Spring 2016 star party schedule has  officially been released!  Come join us for our special telescope nights at West Loop and Stafford campuses this semester, and be treated to spectacular views of the Sun, Moon, planets, stars, and even distant galaxies.

All HCC students, faculty, and staff – as well as the general public – are invited to attend.  For more information, click on the picture at left, or see the Star Parties page of this website.

Star Party Schedule

★   Tues, Jan. 19th –  West Loop Campus

★   Weds, Feb. 10th –  Stafford Campus

★   Weds, Feb. 17th  –  West Loop Campus

★   Tues, Mar.1st  –  Stafford Campus

★   Weds, Mar. 30th – Stafford Campus

★   Tues, Apr. 12th  –  West Loop Campus

★   Tues, Apr. 26th –  Stafford Campus

 ★   Weds, May 11th  –  West Loop Campus

***Cancelled*** Astronomy Day 2015

This just in from event organizers: Astronomy Day 2015 has been cancelled.
The Houston area will be under a Flash Flood Watch from Saturday, Oct. 24 until Monday, Oct. 26.

Stay safe and dry, folks!

Fall 2015 Star Party Schedule

The HCC S.T.A.R. Squad has regularly scheduled observing nights (known as “star parties”) every 2 weeks throughout each semester, where we set up a variety of different telescopes and observe the Sun, the Moon, planets, stars, and other various celestial objects. All HCC students, faculty, staff, and their families are invited to attend.

Below is our newly released Fall star party lineup, and more information about our events can be found by clicking here.

Fall 2015 Star Party Schedule

★   Tues, Aug. 25th –  West Loop Campus

★   Weds, Sep. 9th –  Stafford Campus

★   Tues, Sep. 22nd –  West Loop Campus

★   Weds, Oct.7th –  Stafford Campus

★   Astronomy Day at the George Observatory – Sat, Oct. 24th

(visit  astronomyday.net  for more info)

★   Tues, Nov. 3rd  –  Stafford Campus

★   Weds, Nov. 18th –  West Loop Campus

★   Tues, Dec. 1st  –  Stafford Campus

Announcements – 10/29


Please note that tonight’s star party at West Loop Campus, as well as all of the remaining star parties for this semester have been cancelled until further notice.  Updates will be posted as they are received, and also, do keep in mind that we WILL still be participating in Astronomy Day 2014 at the George Observatory on November 8th.

Clear Skies,

-Alicia Tristan-
Admin / Group Advisor

Tonight’s star party (Oct. 1st) at West Loop

Don’t forget! Tonight is the first West Loop campus star party of the semester. The weather looks promising, and the first quarter Moon and the red planet Mars will be in prime view. So come on out and join us!

Astronomy Day 2014

The domed telescopes of the George Observatory – Photo credit: Sergio Garcia Rill

Every year, the S.T.A.R. Squad participates in Houston’s annual Astronomy Day – an all-day local astronomy extravaganza – held this year on Saturday, November 8, 2014 from 3:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at the George Observatory, located in  beautiful Brazos Bend State Park, one hour southwest of Houston.

The observatory, known affectionately as “The George”, boasts some of the darkest night skies in the Houston area, and is regularly open to the public every Saturday.  However, Astronomy Day is by far the grand event of the year, having hosted upwards of 3,000 attendees in years past!

Activities at A-Day include solar and nighttime observing through a variety of telescopes (the Squad will be operating 2 or 3 of HCC’s own telescopes for the public), indoor and outdoor presentations, face painting, crafts, displays, and much much more…

Educational and fun for the entire family, this unique event is free to the public.  Admission to Brazos Bend State Park is $7.00 per person, with free admission into the park for kids under 12.  So don’t forget to mark your calendar for this truly “stellar” event!

For more information, please visit http://www.astronomyday.net/

Tonight’s star party – 9/17 at Stafford Campus

Don’t forget folks – tonight’s star party will be at Stafford Campus, starting at about 6:00 p.m. As of now, there are scattered storms in the area, with a forecast to match, so any observing tonight will, of course, be dependent upon that…  Please stay tuned to our Facebook page for further updates.

HOWEVER, please note that the science department will have a table set up in the South wing of the Scarcella building all night. In case of bad weather, we will be joining them in their display, as well as taking applications for new membership. So anyone interested in talking with the members of the club, getting more information, or participating in discussion on club activities is welcome to join us… We want to hear from you!

Fall 2014 Schedule of Star Parties

The Fall 2014 Semester schedule of observing nights has been officially released!

Be sure to mark your calendars for the coming dates… in prime view this semester are the planets Saturn and Mars, whose spectacular rings and reddish color, respectively, are a truly astronomical treat to behold.

Also, be sure to like and visit our Facebook page for event pages and updates, and hope to see you there!

★     Wednesday, Sep. 3rd – Stafford Campus
★     Wednesday, Sep. 17th – Stafford Campus
★     Wednesday, Oct. 1st – West Loop Campus
★     Wednesday,  Oct. 15th – Stafford Campus
★     Wednesday,  Oct. 29th – West Loop Campus
★     Wednesday,  Nov. 12th – Stafford Campus
★     Wednesday,  Nov. 26th – West Loop Campus

Summer 2014 Star Party Schedule

With our last scheduled event (Apr. 30th @ West Loop), and the end of the semester fast approaching, it’s time to post the S.T.A.R. Squad’s summer lineup…

Our currently scheduled dates are:

★  Wednesday,  Jun. 4th  –  Stafford Campus
★  Wednesday,  Jul. 2nd  –  Stafford Campus
★  Wednesday,  Jul. 30th  –  Stafford Campus

M0re dates may be added in the future, so be sure to keep a lookout for flyers at HCC Stafford, or an eye on our Facebook page for updates.  Ad Astra!



Houston-area Light Pollution Petition

NOTE:  Fellow night sky enthusiasts & astronomers, be sure to check this out….One of Houston’s own Astronomy students is spearheading a petition to Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Texas Senator Ted Cruz to adopt a lighting ordinance to combat the devastating effects of light pollution in our fair city…
The Squad supports this petition, and if this cause is of interest to you as well, please take a moment out of your day to sign… Thank you!


Spring 2014 Star Party Schedule

The star party / observing night schedule for the Spring 2014 semester has been officially released!  Be on the lookout for us at the Stafford, Gulfton, West Loop, and Missouri City campuses on the dates below – and as always – be sure to keep an eye on our Facebook page for updates!  For more information and maps, click here.

★ Wednesday, Jan. 22nd  –  Stafford Campus
★ Wednesday, Feb. 5th – Gulfton Campus
★ Wednesday, Feb. 19th  –  Stafford Campus
★ Monday, Feb. 24th  –  Missouri City Campus
★ Wednesday, Mar. 5th  –  West Loop Campus
★ Wednesday, Mar. 19th – Stafford Campus
★ Monday, Mar. 24th – Missouri City Campus
★ Wednesday, Apr. 2nd  –  Gulfton Campus
★ Wednesday, Apr. 16th – Stafford Campus
★ Wednesday, Apr. 30th – West Loop Campus

**CANCELLED** Tonight’s star party at West Loop campus, 9/19

**PLEASE NOTE** Tonight’s star party at the West Loop Campus has been cancelled due to excessive rain and clouds… please be sure to keep an eye on our page for the next scheduled event. Better luck next time!

Fall 2013 Star Party Schedule

Hello All,

The schedule of observing nights for the Fall 2013 semester has been officially released… be on the lookout for us at the Stafford, Gulfton, and West Loop Campuses on the dates below – and as always – be sure to keep an eye on our Facebook page for updates!

★ Wednesday, Sep. 4th – Stafford Campus
★ Thursday, Sep. 19th – West Loop Campus
★ Wednesday, Oct. 2nd – Stafford Campus
★ Wednesday, Oct. 16th – Gulfton Campus
★ Wednesday, Oct. 30th – Stafford Campus
★ Thursday, Nov. 7th – Gulfton Campus
★ Wednesday, Nov. 20th – West Loop Campus

HCC S.T.A.R. Squad star party – Wednesday, June 19th


Attention Houston Community College students, faculty, and staff; local astronomers; and anyone else interested in astronomy or space science… You’re invited to join the S.T.A.R. Squad, HCC’s official astronomy club, for an evening of observing the wonders of the universe through the finest telescopes HCCS has to offer – come one come all!

This event kicks off our summer star party schedule, is absolutely free and open to the public, and no equipment or prior knowledge of astronomy is needed… just bring yourself, & your curiosity!

We will be set up with on the back patio (South side) of the Scarcella Science & Technology building at Stafford campus from about 5:00 – 9:30 p.m., and will begin the evening with solar observing until dusk – after which we will bring out several other telescopes to observe such objects as brilliant Venus, the magnificent rings of Saturn, Lunar mare and craters, glittering star clusters, binary stars, and much more…
Additionally, the sky will be putting on quite the show itself, with simultaneous close conjunctions of Venus and Mercury, and Saturn and the Moon.

Hope to see you there, and as always, please feel free to invite along any family/friends/etc. that might be interested in attending… all are welcome!

*CANCELLED* Tonight’s star party at Gulfton Campus, 4/17/2013

Hello All,
Until further notice, tonight’s star party at Gulfton campus has been cancelled due to unfavorable weather conditions… However, be sure to mark your calendars for Tuesday, April 30th, when we will be set up for the last scheduled star party of the semester at Stafford Campus. Hope to see you there!

*Update* – Tonight’s Star Party at Missouri City Campus

Hello All…
Well, due to tonight’s forecasted weather (cloudy w/ a 60% chance of rain), tonight’s star party is – for all intensive purposes – cancelled.
However, we WILL instead be set up at HCC’s Missouri City Campus Open House from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m., for club promotions… anyone that would like to come help out or participate is more than welcome to join us for this fun and free event!


-Alicia Tristan
Club President

Comet PANSTARRS puts on a show for Northern Observers

PANSTARRS on 3/12/2013 - Copyright Brian Klimowski

PANSTARRS on 3/12/2013 – Copyright Brian Klimowski

Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) has been putting on a spectacular show for northern based observers this past week, and continues to shine away, low in the Western sky after sunset.  Easily visible to the naked eye from many locations, it was an especially remarkable sight on Tuesday, March 12, when it was joined by the beautifully slender 1-day-old crescent Moon.

But even as this fleeting comet begins to fade, good views of this cosmic spectacle are still to be had as it races across the sky, barely rising above the horizon, and all but lost in the glow of sunset.  (finder chart)

So, go out and look for this one, folks!  Binoculars, and a location with a clear, unobstructed horizon are key…  but although PANSTARRS may be a challenge, it is well worth the effort. (:

The “Squad” Goes International…

From the officers and members of the S.T.A.R. Squad:  Many many thanks to all of our readers – both in our hometown of Houston, TX… across the U.S… and worldwide!

Every time we’re logged into this site and see the views coming in from so many different places, we’re both excited and honored to be sharing a love of astronomy with each and every one of you.  With the advent of blogging sites like this, facebook, and other social media, we’ve all been provided with the means to share the latest news, research, information, and conversation on this science with remarkable ease and efficacy – a truly amazing concept.

So, to all our visitors and followers… welcome!  And thanks for dropping by  🙂

Ad Astra,
– Alicia Tristan, Club President

Comet PANSTARRS climbs into Northern Skies – Not as bright as expected, But still a Spring Break treat!

Comet PANSTARRS on Feb. 16th - Copyright Ignacio Diaz Bobillo

Comet PANSTARRS on Feb. 16th – Copyright Ignacio Diaz Bobillo

Comet C/2011 L4 PANSTARRS continues to brighten as it moves towards the Sun – reaching perihelion on Sunday, March 10 – after which it will slowly climb it’s way out of the overwhelming glare of the sun and into the visibility of Northern skywatchers. Originally predicted to reach a magnitude of 0 or brighter (the same apparent brightness as the star Vega), more refined estimates now predict a maximum brightness of around +2 (comparable to the stars of the Big Dipper).
Nonetheless, the approach of comet PANSTARRS will still be an exciting event to observe, and will be visible low in the western sky directly after sunset from March 10th onwards. (NOTE: For the safety of your eyes, be SURE to only search for the comet after the Sun has fully set!) Also be sure to mark your calendars for March 12th and 13th, when it will be joined by a thin crescent Moon.

For more information and finder charts for PANSTARRS, check out the article below, courtesy of skyandtelescope.com :


POSTPONED: HCC S.T.A.R. Squad star party – Tuesday, Jan. 29th


Please note that tonight’s star party at the Missouri City campus has been postponed due to clouds and a forecasted high chance of storms & rain for tonight.
Current plans are to reschdule this event for next Tuesday, Feb. 5th – same time, same place… so be sure to keep an eye on this blog and on our facebook page for updates.
…Better luck next time!


A Happy New Year and an even newer Star Party Schedule! (Brought to you by the S.T.A.R. Squad…)

Friends, family, & fellow astronomers…

The HCC S.T.A.R. Squad would like wish you all a very happy New Year, and are also pleased to announce our new schedule of observing nights for the Spring 2013 semester!  Be sure to keep an eye out at your local HCCSW campus for our schedule flyers (coming soon), as well as on our facebook page for updates…
Clear Skies! ~

**UPDATE**  The dates for the first 2 events below have changed… be sure to read!

★     Wednesday, Jan. 16th  –  Stafford Campus

★     Thursday, Jan. 17th  –  Stafford Campus

★     Tuesday, Jan. 29th   –  Missouri City Campus

★     Wednesday, Feb. 13th  –  Gulfton Campus

★     Tuesday, Feb. 26th  –  Stafford Campus

★     Wednesday, Mar. 20th  –  West Loop Campus

★     Tuesday, Apr. 2nd –  Missouri City Campus

★     Wednesday, Apr. 17th  –  Gulfton Campus

★     Tuesday, Apr. 30th  –  Stafford Campus

One last hurrah(!) for the Fall 2012 semester…

Well it’s that time of year again; finals are nearly upon us, and the Fall 2012 semester is drawing to a close.  Our last scheduled star party of the year was held at West Loop campus last Monday, the 26th… so what’s next?

Well, if you missed your chance to catch us in action (or were foiled by clouds that night), make sure to drop by Stafford campus this Thursday, the 29th, for our impromptu last observing night!  We will be meeting in our usual spot, on the South side of the Scarcella Science & Technology building, and will be set up from ~4:00 – 8:30 p.m… and as always, all students, friends, and families are welcome to join us.  Just be sure to check the weather before heading out!

Event page:  http://www.facebook.com/hccstarsquad/events#!/events/430235723710998/

HCC S.T.A.R. Squad star party / Stafford Campus Fall OPEN HOUSE – Tuesday, Nov. 13th

The HCC S.T.A.R. Squad is proud to announce its participation in HCC Southwest College’s Fall Open House night on Tuesday, Nov. 13th, at Stafford Campus.
This event is an excellent chance for potential students to learn about enrollment, financial aid, academic advising, testing and more; as well as a fun-filled night for the entire family, with free food, fun activities and door prizes for all ages.

The event officially runs from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m., and the Squad will be set up in the Scarcella Building atrium, as well as at the South side of the Scarcella Science & Technology Building, and will be giving tours of the night sky through the finest astronomy equipment HCC has to offer – with drinks and pizza to boot!

So whether you own your own telescope, or have never even seen through one before… you’re invited to join the HCC S.T.A.R. Squad, HCC’s official astronomy club, for an evening of observing the wonders of the universe – come one, come all! 
We will begin the evening with solar observing until dusk – after which we will bring out other telescopes to observe such objects as the red planet Mars, mysterious Uranus & Neptune, glittering star clusters, distant galaxies, and much more.  And as always, please feel free to invite along any family/friends/etc. that would be interested in attending… all are welcome, and the more the merrier!

2013… a Spectacular Year for Comets?

2013 may just turn out to be a spectacular year for Northern-based observers, with the possiblity of  – not one – but two “Great Comets”.

Comet PANSTARRS (C/2011 L4)

The first, Comet PANSTARRS (C/2011 L4), was discovered last June using the Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawaii, at an apparent magnitude of 19.  Its brightness has been slowly increasing since, allowing astronomers with large amateur scopes a “sneak peak” as it slowly moved through the constellations Scorpius and Libra, before its last reported observation on October 1st, at 12.8th mag.

As it is now too close to the sun for visual observations, astronomers must patiently await its return to evening skies in early March 2013.  Current predictions set it to reach a magnitude of 0.5 (or brighter) at perihelion on March 10 – so if these numbers hold true, this comet may indeed be well worth the wait.

Read the rest of this entry

Astronomy Day 2012

Just 3 more days till Astronomy Day!  …And just what is Astronomy Day, you might ask?  Only the greatest all-day annual astronomy extravaganza in Houston! – held this Saturday, October 20, 2012 from 3:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at the George Observatory, located in Brazos Bend State Park, one hour southwest of Houston. 
Activities include solar and nighttime observing (we will be operating 3 of our own telescopes for the public), presentations, face painting, crafts, displays, and much much more.
This event is free to the public, the weather is forecast to be great, and in past years attendance has been in the thousands… so don’t forget to mark your calendar!
For more information, please visit  http://www.astronomyday.net/

CANCELLED – Tonight’s star party at Missouri City, 10/16

Please note that the Missouri City star party tonight has been cancelled, as the skies are totally overcast and forecasted to stay that way.  There are no plans on rescheduling this event, seeing as we’ll be putting so much effort towards our setup at Astronomy Day this Saturday.  Oh well, can’t win em all… but the weather looks great for A-Day, though!  Make sure to check out the event’s website at:  http://www.astronomyday.net/

Congratulations, new 2012-2013 term officers!

Congratulations and welcome to our new officers for the 2012-2013 term!
Vice President:  Moises Ramirez,   Treasurer:  Joe Wojcik,   Historian/Recorder:  Nathan Jones

Looking forward to another stellar year of astronomy!

The HCC S.T.A.R. Squad… New, Improved, and now (even more) Facebook friendly!

Our club now has a new facebook page!  Be sure to go and ‘like” us up to keep updated on events, astronomy news, and other info…
The new page may be found at:   http://www.facebook.com/hccstarsquad     Or, by scrolling down the sidebar on the main page and clicking on the “Follow the S.T.A.R. Squad on Facebook!” tab.

As always, members and interested parties may also request to join our facebook group as well, at:  http://www.facebook.com/groups/hccstarsquad/

So find us… friend us… follow us!

Rescheduled Star Party / Official Club Meeting – Wednesday, September 19

The official reschedule night for last Monday’s star party is Wednesday (tomorrow!), September 19 at Stafford Campus.  As usual, we will be meeting from 5:00 – 9:30 p.m. on the South patio of the Scarcella Science & Technology building at Stafford Campus to observe the Sun, Moon, the ringed planet Saturn, glittering star clusters, and much more…
As always, this event is open to the public, so all HCC students, faculty, and staff – please feel free to invite family and friends along, as well.  There’ll even be free pizza!  Also, a cool front is scheduled to move through, so be sure to bring any warm clothes you might need.

Prospective members:  We will also be holding an informal club meeting prior to the star party, for our current members, and well as those that are interested in joining the Squad.  The meeting will be held at our star party set-up location, starting at ~5:00, as well.