Discover the Universe: Houston, Texas

Posted by Bill Andrews
on Friday, November 04, 2011

It’s been a little while since our last update about Astronomy magazine’s Discover the Universe program, but Jim Wessel, educational outreach chairman of the Johnson Space Center Astronomical Society, remedies that with news on his group’s latest success. Jim writes:

The Johnson Space Center Astronomical Society helped sponsor this year’s Houston area Astronomy Day (A-Day), which fell on October 8. That also happened to be the same date as the International Observe the Moon Night — bonus! // All photos by Chris Randall
Thank you for the handouts you generously provided for use at our Houston area Astronomy Day (A-Day)! Because it happened October 8, the same evening as the International Observe the Moon Night (InOMN), we scored a beneficial twofer, and your Moon pamphlets were doubly effective. We laid Astronomy’s literature out on the “recruitment table,” which was manned by the seven participating clubs in the greater Houston area: the Houston Astronomical Society (HAS), the Fort Bend Astronomy Club (FBAC), the North Houston Astronomy Club (NHAC), the Astronomical Society of South East Texas (ASSET), the Huntsville Amateur Astronomy Society (HAAS), and the Community of Humble/Administaff Observatory Society (CHAOS).  The recruitment table was busy all afternoon and night with people from the public getting more information about joining one of the clubs and starting to enjoy the hobby of astronomy.

The support of various groups, including Astronomy magazine and the Lunar and Planetary Institute, helped make the event a success, with some 2,000 people attending.
In discussions with the other A-Day organizers, we came up with a tally of approximately 2,150 people visiting the George Observatory over the entire day. We imagine it would have been much better attended, as it has been in years past, but the weather was not on our side: 75 percent cloud cover during the day, and 95 percent at night, plus a sprinkle of rain. However, we still consider this year a major success.

In addition to your handouts, we kept everyone excited with a variety of activities for both kids and adults, indoor and outdoor presentations, like a “How to make a comet” demonstration, and the Lunar and Planetary Institute’s InOMN display (featuring a real Moon rock!).

A-Day proved you don’t need perfect weather to have a successful event. The A-Day event provided activities and entertainment to capture the crowds’ attention throughout the day, such as this demonstration on “How to make a comet.”
On behalf of the organizers and clubs of the Houston area Astronomy Day event, I want to say thank you again.

You’re very welcome, Jim! I’d have to agree that any event that attracts about more than 2,000 people is certainly a success, and we’re just happy to have played a small role. If you want to know how Astronomy magazine’s Discover the Universe program can help your club, please email me at

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