July 2017 DFAC Update

quidnoviNewsletter of the Desert Foothills Astronomy Club
Captain’s Log: July 4, 2017

Greetings Fellow Stargazers,

Here’s hoping you all weathered that recent heat wave. It was so hot here at Heimhenge … [How, hot, was it?] … it was so hot I saw a fire hydrant trying to flag down a pack of coyotes. But seriously folks, if you didn’t catch my June 26 Sky Lights on density altitude you should check it out. They didn’t need to close Sky Harbor again, but some of the shorter-runway regional airports had problems.

And now to the update. We’ll start with a recap for those who missed it …

1. Star Barn Social:
Our thanks to Ron & Julie Walker for hosting the recent Beer & Brats Social. A dozen or so were in attendance, some members as well as friends and guests. After enjoying great food and drink and conversation, we retired to Walker Cineplex for a quick demo of the system capabilities followed by our (voted on) main feature: Arrival. I’d seen it and voted for another movie but didn’t really “lose” … it’s the kind of movie you benefit from seeing twice.

And welcome back to Scott Loucks, who renewed his membership after a 2-3 year absence. Scott now has a dark sky property in BCC where he intends to reconstruct his currently dismantled LAMP observatory. Congrats Scott!

2. Treasurer’s report pending:
Yes, and we apologize for the delay. To date we have 14 out of last year’s 20 members renewed. Our club dues for the Astronomical League are based on the number of members. Those dues were due June 30. We set DFAC’s dues deadline at May 31 to give us some breathing room for late renewals. But at the end of June we have to go with whatever number we have. Renewals are happily accepted at any time, of course. Just send your check to treasurer Jay Chatzkel. No membership form required for renewals unless your contact info has changed.

Jay is in Peru at present, doing astrophotography of the southern sky. There may be some membership renewals waiting for him in his mailbox. Stayed tuned for the exciting sequel in our August DFAC Update.

3. Images of the Earth and Moon:
Somehow I got on the mailing list of the Planetary Society, now headed by Bill Nye. Usual pitches for donations & memberships, but they also send some good astronomy news. Most recently, a link to a collection of NASA images taken from various spacecraft. Each image shows the Earth and Moon together. We’ve all seen the iconic “Earthrise” photo from Apollo 8, but I was not aware the collection was as large as it is. Peruse it here.

4. Universe of Learning:
This just in from Lowell Observatory via Roger Serrato: The Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) now provides adult-level astronomy curricula online at: https://universe-of-learning.org/science_briefing. These are monthly presentations that started in July 2016. Each includes a synopsis, slides & notes in PDF format, and links to related online resources. I went through the most recent on the upcoming total eclipse. Very well done. Bookmark it now for later edification.

5. Wildfire damage at the VATT:
You may recall my promotion of the Vatican Observatory Blog in an earlier Quid Novi. The June 28th post has a critical analysis of damage done to the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope (VATT) by the recent Frye Fire. Fr. Paul Gabor SJ investigated personally and includes many informative photos with his post. Read it here.

6. September Social at Heimhenge:
It’s on our DFAC Events page with “Details TBD”, but here’s what I’ve got in mind. Not so much a celebration of the Equinox — we’ll be one day late for that, but the solar alignment at Heimhenge will still be pretty good (sunset is at 18:23 MST). Rather, I want this to be a venue for members to present their photos/videos of the August 21 solar eclipse. I know 3 or 4 members who’ll be making the trek north, and others who’ll be shooting from AZ. And I’m hoping Jay has his astrophotos from Peru processed for even more eye candy.

We have a new digital projector in our home theater with 3X the brightness of my previous dinosaur. That means we can enjoy the photos/videos on our big screen. Whether we can work in a game of Asteroid Snooker remains to be seen. Watch for updates in the August Quid Novi.

Of special note: Our 1/4 mile long 15% slope badly-eroded driveway is now wider, flatter, and paved with recycled asphalt. Enjoy your drive up!

7. Bell Labs Science Series:
I’m sure most of our members are familiar with this classic series of eight short films done by Bell Labs. If not, go here. Ron Walker had LaserDisc versions and digitized them for display in his planetarium. He got so many favorable comments from last year’s “premiere” that he’s decided to repeat the series. The first film in the collection is “Our Mr. Sun”, showing on Saturday July 15, 3 pm, at the Star Barn. RSVP and map links available on our DFAC Events page.

8. Astronomical Eye Candy:
It isn’t really “astronomy”, but in honor of Independence Day I present my video from the 2001 Ring of Fire PGI convention in Appleton, WI. Here’s the grand finale of the opening night’s display. Turn on your sound and go full-screen.

Till next we meet, clear skies.

Dan Heim
Desert Foothills Astronomy Club

June 2017 DFAC Update
August 2017 DFAC Update