What You Might Have Missed – Member Events

By Kim Vera, HMNS Membership Copywriter


In August and September we had plenty events to help ease your summer blues and celebrate the beginning of the fall season. Here’s a recap in case you missed out. And be on the lookout for your HMNS weekly newsletter because we are planning a lot of exciting events in the coming months.


Members Night at the George Observatory | Friday, Aug. 5

After being closed due to flooding in Brazos Bend State Park, we were finally able to head back out and enjoy a night of stargazing with snacks, kids’ activities and lots of telescopes for viewing celestial marvels in the night sky.


Sugar Land – Block Party, Too! Members’ Event| Friday, Aug. 12


Members enjoyed an evening of tower building, food, and fun during our members-only event for Block Party, Too! Families were able to roam about the Museum, taking a break every now and then to grab a bite to eat or snack on dessert under a giant Tyrannosaurus rex.


2nd Saturdays for Members | Saturday, Aug. 13 and Sept. 10


During 2nd Saturdays, Members can experience the Museum an hour before the crowds arrive. Tours were available for our Out of the Amazon: Life on the River exhibit and the Morian Hall of Paleontology. For breakfast, Doughmaker Doughnuts served gourmet donuts, a favorite being the French toast, perfectly drenched in maple syrup and powdered sugar. 2nd Saturday is the perfect wakeup call for Members and their little ones. The next 2nd Saturday is on Nov. 12th – and don’t forget your kid’s pass for an extra prize!


World Trekkers: South Korea| Friday, Aug. 26



Passports were stamped, snacks were sampled, and faces were painted! Members were whisked away on a journey to South Korea where students from dojang K-Taekwondo performed demonstrations for the crowds and displayed acts of strength, precision and discipline. After their demonstrations, children has the opportunity to test their own skills with one-on-one training exercises with students from the school. World Trekkers also featured balloon artists and face painters who transformed children into their favorite animals and superheroes and samplings of roasted seaweed, shrimp chips and a chocolate-dipped pretzel stick called Pepero. Travel with us for our last Trekkers of the year as we head off to Ireland in November! See the world with HMNS and don’t forget your World Trekkers passport!


Members First! Bill of Rights: Amending America. | Friday, Sept. 1


In September, HMNS Members enjoyed a brand new benefit, Members First, which gave an in-depth look at the Bill of Rights before the exhibit opened to the public. As a Museum bonus, a historical reenactor was stationed in the Alfred C. Glassell, Jr. Hall giving Members an insight on our humble beginnings in pursuing life, liberty, and happiness.


An Evening with the Owls- Members Events| Monday – Wednesday, Sept. 12 – 14


An Evening with the Owls allowed Members to witness owl butterflies up close in the evening when they were most active. In addition to insect owls, special guests from Wild Life Center of Texas and Sky Kings Falconry introduced guests to feathered owls, including a great horned owl, a tiny screech owl and a beautiful barn owl. Charro, our resident green iguana, even made an appearance at the event to meet and greet guests and eat some snacks provided by staff of the Cockrell Butterfly Center.


HMNS Catalysts: An Evening with the Owls | Thursday, Sept. 15


paperSwarms of owl butterflies fluttered through the air in the Cockrell Butterfly Center as HMNS Catalysts Members attempted to capture pictures of the winged beauties while they landed from head to head in the crowd. Members were greeted that evening with an open bar and the aroma of mouthwatering roasted Berkshire pork loin sliders, crudité of asparagus, and assorted cheeses and olives. Special themed crafts were also available where guests could make their very own butterfly origami and pom pom bugs with googly eyes. Members also got to experience entomophagy – consuming bugs as a source of food – by sampling bowls of chocolate-coated array of insects and crickets and larvets flavored with sour cream and onion, BBQ, and cheddar seasonings.

Mummies of the World: The Exhibition – Members First Viewing and Members Exclusive Event | Friday, Sept. 23

Mummies of the World: The Exhibition opened with Members First, which allowed members the opportunity to experience this fascinating exhibition before it opened to the public. In the evening, we held our exclusive Members’ event that featured children’s craft tables, a fun photo booth, and a tasty menu of chicken tagine and dulce de leche brownies drizzled in caramel. Once inside the exhibit, HMNS docents enhanced the exhibit experience by providing deeper insights into the process of natural and man-made mummification.

We hope you had as much fun at the members’ events as we did! And check our website often because we will be adding new events soon.

The stars at night are big and…. falling: Geminid Meteor Shower Returns December 13!

Of the many meteor showers that occur throughout the year, the Geminid Meteor Shower in December may be the most reliably active. This meteor shower occurs when the Earth passes near 3200 Phaethon, a Palladian Asteroid. The Geminids were first observed in 1862. The shower gets its name because they appear to originate in the Gemini constellation. 

Under ideal conditions, one may see as many as 50-100 meteors an hour. The meteors from this shower are also especially bright, and many astronomers believe that the shower is intensifying every year. The shower should peak around 9:00 p.m. on Saturday December 13th. That’s good news because most of the other significant showers, like the Perseids, peak after midnight. With no Moon until after midnight, we should be able to see a lot of meteors (weather permitting of course). 

The George Observatory will be open Saturday, December 13th until midnight for viewing the shower. Tickets for viewing the shower are $5 and include access to our telescopes.  That night, we’ll be able to view several star clusters and nebulae with our scopes. Jupiter should rise in time to be viewed as well. We’ll also have our Discovery Dome available for $3. 

If you can’t make it out to the George, you can still view the shower anywhere with dark skies.



Seeing Stars with James Wooten: The Perseids are back August 12!

Star Chart August 2014

This star map shows the Houston sky at 10 pm CDT on August 1, 9 pm CDT on August 15, and dusk on August 31. To use the map, put the direction you are facing at the bottom. The Summer Triangle is high overhead. This consists of the brightest stars in Cygnus, Lyra, and Aquila. Scorpius, the Scorpion, is in the south, with the ‘teapot’ of Sagittarius to his left. From the Big Dipper’s handle, ‘arc to Arcturus’ and ‘speed on to Spica’ in the southwest. Watch Mars close in on Saturn this month. The Great Square of Pegasus rises in the east, heralding the coming autumn.

This month, Mars is in the southwest at dusk this month. Mars continues to fade a little each night as Earth continues to leave it farther behind. Still, Mars rivals the brightest stars we see at night.

Saturn is also in the south southwest at dusk. Mars passes 3.4 degrees south of Saturn on August 25. 

Venus remains in the morning sky, although it now begins to approach the Sun more and more. Look east at dawn for the brightest point of light there; only the Sun and Moon outshine Venus. Venus remains a morning star for almost all of 2014.

Jupiter emerges from behind the Sun into the morning sky by late August. Venus is about 1/5 of one degree from Jupiter at dawn on August 18th. (Both are low in the east at dawn). 

The Big Dipper is left of the North Star, with its handle pointing up. From that handle, you can ‘arc to Arcturus’ and then ‘speed on to Spica’; those stars are in the west at dusk.  Leo, the Lion, is setting in the west at dusk.

Antares, brightest star of Scorpius, the Scorpion, is in the southeast, with the ‘teapot’ of Sagittarius behind it. The Summer Triangle is high in the east. The stars of summer are here. By late evening you can look for the Great Square of Pegasus rising in the east, indicating that fall is approaching.

Coming to an observatory near you, August 12: The annual Perseid meteor shower peaks next week, late Tuesday/early Wednesday (August 12-13).  As usual, we see more meteors towards dawn because that’s when we rotate into the meteor stream. 

The George Observatory is open 7:00 p.m. August 12 until 2:00 a.m. August 12-13 for the shower. 


Moon Phases in August 2014

1st Quarter: August 3, 7:50 p.m. 
Full: August 10, 1:10 p.m.
Last Quarter: August 17, 7:26 a.m.
New: August 25, 9:12 a.m.

Click here to see the Burke Baker Planetarium Schedule.

On most clear Saturday nights at the George Observatory, you can hear me do live star tours on the observation deck with a green laser pointer. If you’re there, listen for my announcement. 

Clear Skies!