November 2017 DFAC Update

quidnoviNewsletter of the Desert Foothills Astronomy Club
Captain’s Log: November 2, 2017

Greetings Fellow Stargazers,

I hope you’ve all been enjoying our beautiful Fall weather and (at least until this week) clear skies. I love checking the morning weather at NWS and seeing forecasts like this:

So let’s take advantage of this fine weather and do some astronomy. Check out Item 1.

1. Open observing at Heimhenge
We’ll have a open observing session on Saturday, November 11. Comet ASASSN1 should be visible in the northern sky. Third Quarter Moon rises around midnight. You can see the sky chart in my
October 23 Sky Lights. Note that the comet is circumpolar and in good viewing position all night. I’ve spotted it with my 10×80 binocs but want to take a look with my Takahashi. Not much of a “tail” showing, but worth a look. Details on our DFAC Events page.

2. Hawking’s Thesis
As promised at our last meeting, you can now download Stephen Hawking’s 134-page 1965 doctoral thesis HERE (32 MB PDF). Cambridge used to charge $87 for a copy, but Hawking requested it be made available for free, and so they did. High demand kept crashing their servers the first 24 hours, but I managed to DL it the next day. The introduction isn’t scanned at very high contrast, but the bulk of the type-written text is easily readable. Equations are inked-in by Hawking. Not an easy read, but a fascinating insight into his early cosmological theories.

3. Stoeger videos
Also as promised, here’s the links to two videos by Fr. William Stoeger SJ on the topic of our last meeting:
Cosmology, Evolution, Causality and Creation
Big Bang Cosmology and Divine Creation – In Conflict or Complementary?

4. Upcoming DFAC Lecture Series
On Dec 5 (or 12) we’ll have Tom Polakis returning for a presentation on CCD photometry: hardware, methods, results, analysis. This will be at a slightly higher technical level, but if you want to get into this area of astronomy Tom can show you how it works. More details on our DFAC Events page. Hope to see you all there — and later at Rookies for food and drink. Still waiting to finalize the date on this event but wanted to get it on the calendar. Keep an eye on DFAC Events for updates.

Our speckle interferometry demo by Richard Harshaw will be on Jan 20. This will also be on the more technical side, and will include real-time data acquisition and analysis at his Brilliant Sky Observatory in Cave Creek. More details (as always) on our DFAC Events page. 

5. Comet 41P spins down
This just in from Lowell Observatory via Roger Serrato: Comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak was observed to slow its spin rate last passage near Earth. Astronomers believe the effect was caused by cyanogen jets. Read the full one-page report HERE.

6. Everything you always wanted to know about SETI
This just in from the Planetary Society: An outstanding essay by journalist Jason Davis titled Is Anybody Out There?The past, present and future of SETI, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. It’s a close look at SETI efforts from their genesis in 1959 to present and beyond. 30+ “pages” with embedded images and videos. I consider myself an expert on SETI but learned much from this essay. Read it HERE.

7. Turn Left at Tectonics video
This just in from the Vatican Observatory Foundation (VOF): Br. Guy Consolmagno SJ and Dan Davis, co-authors of the classic Turn Left at Orion present Turn Left at Tectonics — a new way to see the Moon. Watch their 40-minute video HERE.

8. Astronomical Eye Candy
I often search Vimeo for content here, and recently found this 4-year-old video simulation of a 3D “fly-through” of the GAMA (Galaxy Mass Assembly) galactic survey — just one thin “slice” of the cosmos.

Credits: Created by Will Parr, Dr. Mark Swinbank and Dr. Peder Norberg (Durham University) using data from the SDSS and the GAMA surveys. This work was supported by the Ogden Trust, STFC and the Royal Society. Music composed and created by Holly Broadbent.

As you watch this fascinating 2-minute video, note that you’re seeing thousands of entire galaxies stream by. None of those points of light are stars. As Douglas Adams famously remarked, “Space is big …”  Go full screen and turn up your sound.

Till next we meet, clear skies.

Dan Heim
Desert Foothills Astronomy Club

October 2017 DFAC Update
December 2017 DFAC Update