We are happy to announce the opening of the Holy Family Astronomical Society (HoFAS) for seventh and eighth grade students.
The HoFAS mission statement is as follows:
To inspire and teach students to reach knowledge while looking beyond our planet Earth by reaching into space. This voyage, guided by science and technology, must always be accompanied by the responsibility to care for the universe God has created as a requirement of our faith.
2016 - 2017 HoFAS
HoFas hosted UNF's astrophysicist Dr. Jane MacGibbon on Friday, February 10, 2017. The event started with a light snack of meteorite lemon chocolate cupcakes and lemonade. Dr. MacGibbon enlightened our members with her expertise on birth & death of stars, black holes (including the well disputed question: do black hole exist?), and astrophysics as a career choice. Dr. MacGibbon also share with the students how she became interested in astrophysics and her journey through the University of Cambridge, Institute of Astronomy (where she met Stephen Hawking) and her years working at NASA Johnson Space Center-Space Center Houston. The event finalized with a reminder of the penumbral lunar eclipse visible that night.
This month, the Holy Family Astronomical Society participated in the Sally Ride EarthKAM program (Mission 51). EarthKAM stands for Earth Knowledge Science Acquired by Middle School students. Students reviewed the concepts of latitude, longitude, and Greenwich Mean Time in order to request the images of our beautiful planet. They also had to interact with the Sally Ride EarthKAM website to interface with the International Space Station (ISS). What a great opportunity to remind HoFAS members that taking care of our planet is a requirement of our faith. Stay tuned for the results of this year's photograph competition.
Our Holy Family Astronomical Society ( HoFAS) hosted a stargazing night on October 21. About 30 members and their parents joined us and were able to take a closer look of some planets: Saturn and its magnificent ring system; the red and the second smallest planet in the solar system, Mars; the farthest known planet in the solar system, Neptune; and a planet that rotates in the opposite direction to most other planets, Venus. We also observed the Vega Star, the brightest star in the constellation of Lyra and the second brightest star in the northern hemisphere (Arcturus is the brightest). HoFAS members also observed the binary star Albireo in the constellation Cygnus, also known as Beta Cygni. This is a very unique double star with one blue star and the other golden. The Ring Nebula was also visible during our stargazing night. Its shape is very distinctive and is used in many astronomy books, but new observations by NASA reveals that the nebula's shape is more like a jelly doughnut. It ties perfectly with our snack for the stargazing night, galactic doughnuts!! The Ring Nebula is located in the constellation Lyra and is considered a popular target for amateur astronomers like our HoFAS members. Eighth grade students will start a project on constellations soon so our stargazing night was a great way to motivate our students before the project on constellations.
All of these was possible due to the kindness and love for astronomy of the Northeast Florida Astronomical Society ( NEFAS). We thank NEFAS for bringing this learning experience to our HoFAS members this year again. Non HoFAS members also joined us and we were really excited to share with the school community as well. The moon did not come out until midnight last Friday but it did not stop us from enjoying a wonderful night and other wonderful celestial bodies. The Heavens are telling the glory of God and His wonderful creation.
2015 - 2016 HoFAS
The month of April was an exciting month for HoFAS members. We had the opportunity to FaceTime with NASA engineer, Mr. López del Castillo. He shared with our HoFAS members about his engineering career at NASA, his job description, and challenging projects. He also explained to the HoFAS members the importance of learning math, physics, and chemistry at the elementary and high school levels. Students also had the opportunity to share their knowledge. Danny C. researched about the possibilities to terraform Mars while Josue P. investigated the possibility for a planet to be in the middle of a binary star system with two suns shining at the same time. Gio R. researched about the power of a rocket's engine and its fuel tank capacity while John McGarity investigated the first rocket to go into space. Mr. López del Castillo invited our HoFAS members to take advantage of their Catholic education where they can receive a good academic and spiritual formation. The interview ended on a very positive note. Our HoFAS member, Christian H., expressed his gratitude on behalf of the HoFAS members and shared their commitment of focusing more on protecting our planet first, then work on how to terraform Mars.
These pictures of the moon were taken by Mr. Salom on the December 19th HoFAS Stargazing Night using NEFAS telescopes and on December 25th using home telescopes.
October 30, 2015
Rocket launching "The Aquapod Bottle Launcher"
We will be turning a 2 - litter soda bottle into a rocket. Teams will be assigned, and each team will have a rocket to design (working lunch). We will be using an Aquapod bottle launcher with a built-in safety valve to prevent over-pressurization. It launches the soda bottle rockets up to 30 meters. Students will wear safety goggles during the launching.
November 5, 2015
Action News Chief Meteorologist Mike Buresh will be a guest speaker for our HoFAS members. Members will learn how to use the Jacksonville Clear Sky Chart that the Northeast Florida Astronomical Society (
) uses from
, alongside a meteorologist's forecast, to determine whether it will be a good night for stargazing in Jacksonville.
November 13, 2015
Rescheduled stargazing party. NEFAS astronomers have agreed to give this date a second chance at stargazing at HFCS.
November 18, 2015
HoFAS field trip to MOSH.
The moon passed through Earth's shadow yesterday night ( 9/27/15) in a total lunar eclipse during a full moon. It is known as a "Supermoon.". Below, see images of the Total Lunar Eclipse where the Heaven is telling the Glory of God.
First picture from NASA TV observatory
Second and third picture by Exida Arteaga and Maria Mendez - Maracaibo, Venezuela.
Holy Family Astronomical Society is hosting its second annual Stargazing Party on Friday, September 18, 2015. Astronomers from the Northeast Astronomical Society (NEFAS) will bring their telescopes to HFCS for a stargazing night for the 7th-8th graders and their families.
From September 4, 2014, HoFAS members and their families where invited to register to receive a free boarding pass to Mars. In name only, participants will get to send their names in a free boarding pass on board the Atlas V. The Atlas V will launch from California, USA on March 4, 2016.
In October, Chief Meteorologist for Action News Mike Buresh will visit HFCS to speak to the HoFAS members about the Jacksonville Clear Sky Chart and the weather conditions required to have a perfect clear sky for stargazing in Jacksonville.
Last Year's HoFAS!
On Friday, September 12th, HoFAS members hosted a stargazing night with the Northeast Florida Astronomical Society (NEFAS) on our school field. Students and parents enjoyed our wonderful universe by observing Saturn, Mars, Neptune, Andromeda galaxy, and M-13 (Messier 13 or the Hercules Globular Cluster). As we observed our universe, we were in awe of the beautiful gift of creation. We modeled Francis of Assisi as we observed the heavens, which were telling us of the glory of God. We started the session with the prayer of St. Francis and that feeling stayed with us during this wonderful experience and beyond. All creation was truly shouting for joy!
Check out the photos an HFCS parent took of the Lunar Eclipse on Wednesday, October 8, 2014:
HoFAS participated in the EarthKAM Mission, open from January 25, 2015, through January 31, 2015. Please visit
Snapshots from Space
to learn more about this exciting program. The photos are: 1) The southern tip of South America, known as
Tierra del Fuego, that
was discovered by Ferdinand Magellan, the first explorer to circumnavigate the globe; 2) Tirua and Mocha Island, Chile; 3) Carnasa and Pamalican Islands, Philippines; 4) Amazon River, Brazil; and 5) Chilean Islands at Southern Patagonia Icefields.