Friday, December 16, 2011

Postponed :(

Unfortunately we have to postpone our star party tonight (and tomorrow night) due to bad weather.  We really appreciate everyone who volunteered and will reschedule this one for after the first of the year.

Happy Holidays and Clear Skies to all :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Largest pallasite meteorite on display at TJC

By Jamey Boyum

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - You've probably seen them streaking through the sky at night..or during the day if you're lucky. But, have you ever seen a shooting star after it hits the ground?

For the next several weeks you can. Tyler Junior College has one of the largest meteors of its kind on display, and for a few dollars you can experience something not of this world.

Click here for the whole story on

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Astronomy Day at CESSE

Check out our calendar for Astronomy Day at the Center for Earth and Space Science Education. We'll be there from 1pm to 11pm for events and a Star Party :)

Click here to check it out!

Amazing video: Planets viewed from Earth as if they were at the distance of our moon

Sunday, September 25, 2011

CESSE - Open to the Public

(picture courtesy of TJC)
Members of ASET attended the opening of the Center for Earth and Space Science Education last Saturday and were visited by around 1200 people.  Even though it was daytime we took the opportunity to show off what you can see with a telescope and spent the day talking with people interested in the new planetarium and star stuff in general.

KETK was there and shot a news report you can watch on their site here - KETK

The new center has a huge (and much improved) dome with much more technical brilliance along with lots of exhibits in the space where the old dome was.  With many different hands-on exhibits it's sure to be a must see landmark in East Texas.

For ASET, there is a plaza with red lighting specifically set up to make star parties easier to put together.  Much of the exterior white lights can be turned off to make our experience that much better.  Our group is very fortunate to have this facility to call home and look forward to many years of shared involvement.

Make sure you take a look at their new website at where you can learn about the center and buy tickets to the shows online.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

NASA Reveals Design for New Space Exploration Age

NASA is ready to move forward with the development of the Space Launch System—an advanced heavy-lift launch vehicle that will provide an entirely new national capability for human exploration beyond Earth's orbit. The Space Launch System will give the nation a safe, affordable and sustainable means of reaching beyond our current limits and opening up new discoveries from the unique vantage point of space.

The Space Launch System, or SLS, will be designed to carry the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, as well as important cargo, equipment and science experiments to Earth's orbit and destinations beyond. Additionally, the SLS will serve as a backup for commercial and international partner transportation services to the International Space Station.

"This launch system will create good-paying American jobs, ensure continued U.S. leadership in space, and inspire millions around the world," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden says. "President Obama challenged us to be bold and dream big, and that's exactly what we are doing at NASA. While I was proud to fly on the space shuttle, kids today can now dream of one day walking on Mars."

The SLS rocket will incorporate technological investments from the Space Shuttle program and the Constellation program in order to take advantage of proven hardware and cutting-edge tooling and manufacturing technology that will significantly reduce development and operations costs. It will use a liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propulsion system, which will include the RS-25D/E from the Space Shuttle program for the core stage and the J-2X engine for the upper stage. SLS will also use solid rocket boosters for the initial development flights, while follow-on boosters will be competed based on performance requirements and affordability considerations. The SLS will have an initial lift capacity of 70 metric tons. That's more than 154,000 pounds, or 77 tons, roughly the weight of 40 sport utility vehicles. The lift capacity will be evolvable to 130 metric tons—more than 286,000 pounds, or 143 tons—enough to lift 75 SUVs. The first developmental flight, or mission, is targeted for the end of 2017.

This specific architecture was selected, largely because it utilizes an evolvable development approach, which allows NASA to address high-cost development activities early on in the program and take advantage of higher buying power before inflation erodes the available funding of a fixed budget. This architecture also enables NASA to leverage existing capabilities and lower development costs by using liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen for both the core and upper stages. Additionally, this architecture provides a modular launch vehicle that can be configured for specific mission needs using a variation of common elements. NASA may not need to lift 130 metric tons for each mission and the flexibility of this modular architecture allows the agency to use different core stage, upper stage, and first-stage booster combinations to achieve the most efficient launch vehicle for the desired mission.

"NASA has been making steady progress toward realizing the president's goal of deep space exploration, while doing so in a more affordable way," NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver says. "We have been driving down the costs on the Space Launch System and Orion contracts by adopting new ways of doing business and project hundreds of millions of dollars of savings each year."

The Space Launch System will be NASA's first exploration-class vehicle since the Saturn V took American astronauts to the moon over 40 years ago. With its superior lift capability, the SLS will expand our reach in the solar system and allow us to explore cis-lunar space, near-Earth asteroids, Mars and its moons and beyond. We will learn more about how the solar system formed, where Earth' water and organics originated and how life might be sustained in places far from our Earth's atmosphere and expand the boundaries of human exploration. These discoveries will change the way we understand ourselves, our planet, and its place in the universe.

Source: NASA

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Grand Opening of CESSE September 17th (Saturday)

9am - 5pm Public Tours of CESSE. We'll also have an ASET booth in the courtyard and be speaking with the public about being part of the club.

From 7-until ASET Star Party (open to the public) There will be AC power and red lighting to help preserve our night vision.

Please come out and visit us to celebrate the opening of the new Center for Earth & Space Science Education.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Silicon Valley Astronomy Lectures Podcasts - from

The Silicon Valley Astronomy Lectures Podcasts logo

Founded in 1999, the Silicon Valley Astronomy Lectures are presented on six Wednesday evenings during each school year at Foothill College, in the heart of California's Silicon Valley.Speakers over the years have included Nobel-prize winners, members of the National Academy of Sciences, the first woman in history to discover a planet, an astrophysicist who is an award-winning science fiction writer, and many other well-known scientists explaining astronomical developments in everyday language.

## These look to be really good, so I would suggest all moonwatchers to give them a listen.

Click here for the full story and podcasts :)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Paul Shaw featured in the Tyler Newspaper

(Staff photo by Jacque Hilburn-Simmons)
Children Get To Know Solar System In Portable Planetarium

Staff Writer

Little Olivia Scott, 7, knows a little bit about the solar system and its mysteries.

She gained part of her knowledge from school and parents, the rest from a movie about mythical creatures in the sky.

The wide-eyed youngster from Tyler was among a lucky few children who spent part of Thursday experiencing a galaxy far, far away at Tyler's Glass Recreation Center — in a portable, blow-up planetarium on loan to Tyler Junior College from Texas A&M University-Commerce.

“I saw everything,” the girl said. “I know all about the constellations; it's awesome.”

Tall words for one so small, but helping children connect the dots between knowledge and reality is what makes learning fun and meaningful, TJC instructor Paul Shaw said.

“There seems to be a disconnect on what kids think is nature,” Shaw said. “Many of them don't realize a feature of nature is above their heads. Getting rid of the disconnect is important.”

Click here to read the whole story on

Having seen the presentation first hand, Paul is an excellent presenter and really knows how to share his love of the skies with folks - Robert Brown

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Thursday, June 30, 2011

A view of Tycho you've never seen before.

Unbelievable pictures and video from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter showing the peaks inside Tycho.

If you are asking yourself, "What's Tycho?" here's a map to show you :)

Click here to see the whole story at Universe Today.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Center for Earth & Space Science Education at Tyler Junior College.

Tom Hooten (director of the Hudnall Planetarium) shared these images to show the progress of the new construction. Can't wait till it's open :)

Before (Hudnall Planetarium)

After ... and still in progress (CESSE)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Tagish Lake Meteorite Delivers Different Composition

We’re all familiar with the hypothesis of panspermia – that life can be “seeded” from the contents of asteroids, comets and planetoids vis-a-vis meteorite impacts – but so far no direct evidence has been found. So why should we even consider meteorites to be potential parents? The truth is out there – they contain the essentials – right down to amino acids. Up until now, what we’ve recovered has been considered structured. Then along came Tagish Lake…

Read the rest at Universe Today

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Pictures on Facebook

If you haven't already "like"ed us on Facebook - take a look and see what you're missing. We'll have our content reposted there, so you never have to be out of the loop. Also, when we get pictures to share we'll have them available online (see the Mineola Naturefest).

Hope to see you at future events :) and on Facebook.

Friday, May 27, 2011

See you tonight :)

We’ll be doing the star party in Mineola tonight – please try to make it out there, but if you can’t we’ll probably have some pictures to post afterwards.

Wish us clear skies

Monday, May 23, 2011

City of Mineola Naturefest Stargazing Program

If you've been looking at our public calendar you'll see Friday is the Naturefest at Mineola Nature Preserve. We'll have a few scopes out there, so please feel free to come out and join us -

Click Here for the Schedule of Events

Cross your fingers for clear skies :)

Friday, May 13, 2011

New Contact Form

For anyone interested in participating, requesting a star party or just asking questions about the group - please use our new contact page. You'll have to prove you aren't a robot using the image verification at the bottom (I don't like those either, but the spam-bots are always looking for easy meat).

Contact ASET

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sky and telescope Great Red Spot transit table

Sky and Telescope has a table to help spot transits of the Great Red Spot for June through December. Make sure you correct the time for UTC (currently central time is UTC minus 5 hours and will change back to minus 6 hours at the time change).

As someone who has never seen it, I'll definitely be on the lookout.

Transit table

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Beautiful Stop Motion with Milky Way in Spain

The Mountain from Terje Sorgjerd on Vimeo.

This was filmed between 4th and 11th April 2011. I had the pleasure of visiting El Teide.
Spain´s highest mountain @(3715m) is one of the best places in the world to photograph the stars and is also the location of Teide Observatories, considered to be one of the world´s best observatories.

The goal was to capture the beautiful Milky Way galaxy along with one of the most amazing mountains I know El Teide. I have to say this was one of the most exhausting trips I have done. There was a lot of hiking at high altitudes and probably less than 10 hours of sleep in total for the whole week. Having been here 10-11 times before I had a long list of must-see locations I wanted to capture for this movie, but I am still not 100% used to carrying around so much gear required for time-lapse movies.

A large sandstorm hit the Sahara Desert on the 9th April ( and at approx 3am in the night the sandstorm hit me, making it nearly impossible to see the sky with my own eyes.

Interestingly enough my camera was set for a 5 hour sequence of the milky way during this time and I was sure my whole scene was ruined. To my surprise, my camera had managed to capture the sandstorm which was backlit by Grand Canary Island making it look like golden clouds. The Milky Way was shining through the clouds, making the stars sparkle in an interesting way. So if you ever wondered how the Milky Way would look through a Sahara sandstorm, look at 00:32.

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Free Astronomy Webcast from Berkeley

A while back I stumbled upon these recorded Astronomy Lectures - for all of you who never got a chance to take Astronomy courses, this is some good listening. All you need is an MP3 player (physical or software) and you can listen to this class.

Astro C10 / LS C70U Introduction to General Astronomy
03:00-4:00 PM | Auditorium Wheeler
Instructor Alex Filippenko

Astro 10 - Fall 2007 - A description of modern astronomy with emphasis on the structure and evolution of stars, galaxies, and the Universe. Additional topics optionally discussed include quasars, pulsars, black holes, and extraterrestrial communication, etc. Individual instructor's synopses available from the department. Video of lectures available at

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Pictures from the event

Here's what it looked like - M100 and NGC 4565

Virtual Telescope Star Party 3pm Central Today - Free

There is a free event today sponsored by "The Virtual Telescope Project" in honor of Global Astronomy Month. It's hosted by Astronomer Gianluca Masi (in Rome) and starts at 3pm Central Time.

All you have to do is go to their website to view the event -

To be notified of their events, go to their Facebook page and join their group -

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Two COOL Brown Dwarf Discovered;are there more?

Brown Dwarfs, in theory, have been around awhile, but the first to be discovered came in 1995. Brown Dwarfs, is a fourth, remnant of a dead star after White Dwarfs, Neutron Stars, and Black Holes. A Brown Dwarf , is a star with low mass 0.08 Solar Mass (0.08 Msun); too low to ignite hydrogen fusion. Thus a Brown Dwarf never fires-up. Brown Dwarfs may end up in one of two new proposed stellar classification of stars termed "L" and "Y" after the present system of O,A,B,G,K & M (Hottest to Coolest). Our Sun is a G star. The L class would possess clouds of minerals and iron, while Y class would have clouds of water ice. The only heat generated is by gravity and pressure. Discovered Brown Dwarfs have a Black-Body radiation (Thermal Energy) range of 3800 degree Kelvin(3526.9 degrees Celsius) to 2700 degree Kelvin (2426.9 degree Celsius). Recently two new Brown Dwarfs have been discovered with temperatures of 370 and 300 degree Kelvin(96.9 degrees Celsius and 26.9 degrees Celsius respectively). These Brown Dwarfs are super cool compared to other discoveries. The significance here is that the planet Jupiter, which also contains hydrogen and helium and is low is relative low mass, radiates thermal energy at 150 degree Kelvin (-123.2 degrees Celsius). It has been theorized that Jupiter may have been the "other" star in our Solar System, that didn't ignite. Jupiter's mass is 0.001 Solar Mass. Further more, Earth average temperature is 288.2 degrees Kelvin (15 degrees Celsius or 59 degrees Fahrenheit for us non-metric humans.) Earth's most abundant element is hydrogen. Could we be a brown dwarf? Well, Earth's mass is 0.000003 solar mass. Which makes hydrogen fusion rather low in probability. We do have minerals and iron, but mostly in the body of the planet, not clouds. We do, however, have clouds of water ice. Are we a Class Y Brown Dwarf?? The division between a star and a planet may be becoming blurred. With search for Dark Matter and now more Brown Dwarfs being discovered, who knows, we may have been a potential star. We do know that we are the "star" of the planets; we have life.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

New Images from Mercury: Just the Beginning for MESSENGER in Orbit


Sharing just a few of the 1,500 images the MESSENGER spacecraft has now taken from its orbital vantage point, mission scientists are understandably excitied – if not overwhelmed – by the data being returned from Mercury. “The instruments are all working marvelously and returning data,” said MESSENGER Principal Investigator Sean Solomon. “The imaging system was turned on earlier this week and over 1,500 images will be acquired over a 3 day period. That is more images than were taken during any of the flybys by the spacecraft.”

Solomon said some of the first image were taken precisely 37 years after the first spacecraft flew by Mercury, Mariner 10 in 1974. “We have now closed the loop begun by Mariner 10, culminating with first insertion of spacecraft in orbit.”

2,430 days ago the MESSENGER lifted off from earth, and after three flybys and a nearly 5 billion mile journey, the spacecraft’s thrusters fired for 15 minutes back on March 17, enabling the spacecraft to ease into orbit.

While already finding intriguing features – many which pose more questions than answers, Solomon reminded reporters during a press conference call today that “all the big questions about Mercury are meant to be answered in a year of observations, not just a couple of days, so we’ll look forward to what is yet to come.”

The top image shows an area of Mercury’s north polar region, revealing terrain that had not been previously seen by spacecraft. The long shadows also accentuate the topography of the surface, which includes a number of ridges, but an unusually smooth surface. Solomon said understanding the interiors of the craters in Mercury’s polar regions and any ices they may contain is one of the main science goals of the MESSENGER mission. “Radar images of Mercury that are now 20 years old suggested that water ice could be in the interiors of these craters,” Solomon said. “That is a hypothesis we’ve been aching to test for 20 years, now and we’ll be able to peer into those crater floors.”

Read the rest of the story on

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

New additions to the website!

I've been working on getting the new website up to speed and it looks like it's coming along well.

  • We have pointed to the new one (still need to get .org fixed)
  • I've added the Event Calendar (see top navigation) and am ready to start publishing public events.
  • I've created a page called Astronomy Tools (top navigation again) so it'll be easy for people to get to the moon phase and sky charts for Longview and Tyler. If you want to see other areas represented, please join the Yahoo group and message me (Robert Brown)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Good meeting

We had an ASET Meeting last night at TJC and here's what we talked about.

Once we ge the domain switched over this will be the new "official" PR website for the group.

We discussed future star parties and enjoyed a presentation on the past, pesent and future of the Hudnall Planetarium (by Tom Hooten - Director of Hudnall Planetarium on the TJC campus). The renderings of the new planetarium are pretty amazing and we can't wait to see how nice it is when it opens in September 2011. Click Here to visit the planetarium website

Also, we were treated to a private planetarium show by Paul Shaw using the portable planetarium he has on loan from A&M Commerce :)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Alien Life (seriously)

Aliens exist, and we have proof.

That astonishingly awesome claim comes from Dr. Richard B. Hoover, an astrobiologist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, who says he has found conclusive evidence of alien life — fossils of bacteria found in an extremely rare class of meteorite called CI1 carbonaceous chondrites. (There are only nine such meteorites on planet Earth.) Hoover’s findings were published late Friday night in the Journal of Cosmology, a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

“I interpret it as indicating that life is more broadly distributed than restricted strictly to the planet earth,” Hoover, who has spent more than 10 years studying meteorites around the world, told in an interview. “This field of study has just barely been touched — because quite frankly, a great many scientist would say that this is impossible.”

Hoover discovered the fossils by breaking apart the CI1 meteorite, and analyzing the exposed rock with a scanning-electron microscope and a field emission electron-scanning microscope, which allowed him to detect any fossil remains. What he found were fossils of micro-organisms, many of which he says are strikingly similar to those found on our own planet.

“The exciting thing is that they are in many cases recognizable and can be associated very closely with the generic species here on earth,” said Hoover. Some of the fossils, however, are quite odd. “There are some that are just very strange and don’t look like anything that I’ve been able to identify, and I’ve shown them to many other experts that have also come up stump.”

click here for the rest of the story

Andrew Couts – Sat Mar 5, 5:28 pm ET

Huge Eruption on the Sun

New Website : )

Welcome to the new website for the Astronomical Society of East Texas.