September 2017 DFAC Update

quidnoviNewsletter of the Desert Foothills Astronomy Club
Captain’s Log: September 1, 2017

Greetings Fellow Stargazers,

Monsoon season is dragging on. Officially, the end date (as of 2008) is now fixed at September 30 instead of using the previous 3-day 55° dew point criterion. However you define it, this is bad weather for astronomy. My attempt to photograph a time-lapse of the Great American Eclipse was thwarted by clouds, as you can see in my Aug 28 Sky Lights. And our proposed Perseid Watch on August 12 had to be canceled due to weather. The good news is our beautiful fall/winter weather is just around the corner. Hang in there Stargazers!

1. Equinox Social at Heimhenge
This was announced last month but I’ve only got 2 RSVPs to date. You have until Sep 15 so get those RSVPs in as soon as possible to help with our planning for food and drink. For those of you who’ve been here before, our driveway was surfaced with recycled asphalt a couple months ago. No more ruts and potholes. Enjoy the drive up!

We’ll provide food (appetizers & snacks) and drink (beer, soda, water) so unless you prefer something special, there’s no need to bring anything except yourself.

NOTE: If you have photos from the Great American Eclipse and would like to share them with other members, please send them to me via email and I’ll have them loaded into my system for display on the big screen. Depending on how much I receive we may or may not get in a game of Asteroid Snooker (rules available here).

The climax of this event will be the Equinox alignment of the Henge Rock shadow (this is where the name “Heimhenge” comes from). Learn more about the Henge Rocks here.

2. IDA Nightwatch
The International Dark-Sky Association has changed the format for their electronic newsletter Nightwatch. It is now a compendium of articles in a blog-like style. I’ll continue including links to the main article and you can browse around on your own from there. This month it’s about how night lighting messes with pollinators. Read it here.

3. Astronomical League Newsletter
This may be of more interest to our newer members, but the League changed its Reflector newsletter distribution system last year to make either print, digital, or both versions available to members. I receive both, since the magazine makes for a nice handout to non-members attending our meetings. Otherwise I’d save a tree. From IDA:

As an Astronomical League member you may receive the digital edition only, postal edition only, or both. Everyone is set to receive both editions unless they indicate otherwise. You may change which you wish to receive by contacting your club, by creating an member account and changing your preference, or by sending an email to

Download the current issue in single-page format here.
Download it in double-page format here.

Reflector is published quarterly. Our current roster has been submitted and processed by the League, so all renewed members of DFAC should be able to access any of the above options.

4. Club Membership Update
At this point (well past the club dues deadline of May 31) I have to assume our current numbers are correct. Last year at this time we had 20 members renewed, this year we have 13 (maybe 14 … still waiting to hear back from one person). So we’ll be entering this season’s Lecture Series with a balance of $256.27 in our treasury. Our dues to the Astronomical League are paid up for this season, and our web hosting and domain name registration are paid at GoDaddy through March 2021. Out-of-town speakers receive a $100 honorarium and local speakers receive $50.

So this is a request to members for speaker topics or specific speakers you’d like to see. I’ve got a few ideas of my own, but hereby solicit your input for our 2017/18 Lecture Series. Help me out here. We have some money to spend. Thanks.

5. Ben Bova’s Mars
Kai Staats, a colleague, former student, former PAS president, DFAC speaker last season, and now indie film producer, has secured the film rights to Ben Bova’s Mars trilogy (Mars, Return to Mars, Mars Life). If you’re not familiar with this work I’d be surprised. This is one of those science fiction classics I’ve always thought should be a movie. Now it’s finally going to happen. Read more about Kai’s project (or get involved) at:

6. Astronomical Eye Candy:
For those who couldn’t make it to totality, enjoy. No surprises with this month’s feature. Produced by Dr. Derek Muller of Veritasium, a creator of science media, live from Madras, Oregon. RT=5:20. If this whets your appetite for quality science media you should browse through their (free) video offerings.

Till next we meet, clear skies.

Dan Heim
Desert Foothills Astronomy Club

August 2017 DFAC Update
October 2017 DFAC Update