January 2018 DFAC Update

quidnoviNewsletter of the Desert Foothills Astronomy Club
Captain’s Log: January 5, 2018

Greetings Fellow Stargazers,

First, Happy New Year! May 2018 bring you astronomical happiness. Loving this Arizona winter weather. Hope you got a chance to see the Super Moon rising the other night. Very impressive over Gavilan Peak from Heimhenge. My apologies for the late update. The holidays were unexpectedly busier than usual this year.

1. Next meeting
Our January 2018 Lecture Series presentation is by local guru Tom Polakis. His topic: CCD Photometry from Inside the Light Dome: Leisure Time Activity for a Retired Engineer. Details on our DFAC Events page. Hope to see you there. Usual gathering at Rookies afterward.

2. Speckle interferometry
Member Richard Harshaw will host a lesson/demo in speckle interferometry at his Brilliant Sky Observatory in Cave Creek on January 20th. Please RSVP directly to Richard and he will notify you if weather shuts us down. Richard also asks that attendees bring a comfortable chair as there will be a large monitor setup outside for real-time group viewing. Plan to arrive by 7 pm. Hot coffee and chocolate will be provided, but dress warmly. Map and RSVP link available on our DFAC Events page. Hope to see you there. Thanks Richard!

3. New public observing plaza at Lowell
This just in from Roger Serrato at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff. Sounds to me like another club field trip might be in order. But not until it gets warmer up there. Here’s the press release:

Lowell Observatory is now implementing the first phase of a long-range expansion plan with construction of the Giovale Open Deck Observatory (GODO). This new public observing plaza, to be located near the Pluto discovery telescope at Lowell, is set to open in late 2018 and will help accommodate the Observatory’s ever-increasing crowd sizes.

The facility is named in honor of longtime Lowell supporters/advisors John and Ginger Giovale, who made a lead gift for the project. John Giovale said, “One of the things that prompted us to support this project is the vision being developed there at Lowell Observatory for major revamping of the campus and the visitors experience. We saw this telescope plaza as a way in which momentum may be created towards that bigger objective, that bigger vision. And we were excited about that.”

GODO will consist of a 5,000-square-foot, elevated plaza along with a roll-off-roof building that will house a suite of telescopes. These will be used for direct observing through eyepieces, as well as for projection of images and spectra onto monitors. Director Jeff Hall said, “Our strategic plan demands that our guests have an experience here they can’t get anywhere else, so we’re going to make sure this is a premier facility from stem to stern.”

Read more about this project and see a cool artist’s conception of GODO here.

4. Star of Bethlehem?
Most of you have heard (or read) of DFAC member Duane Engdahl’s well-researched theory about the Star of Bethlehem. Dozens of theories have been floating around for ages. From the Vatican Observatory’s Faith & Science website, Br. Guy Consolmagno, SJ provides his own insights during this Holiday Season. He doesn’t suggest a definitive “answer” but looks at three theories he finds intriguing. Watch the video here (RT = 3:40).

5. Astronomical Eye Candy
I don’t know how many of you caught that SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch from Vandenberg on Dec 22. It was shortly after sunset and the plume was perfectly illuminated in the dark sky. I was set up for time-lapse but haven’t had time to process the 47 images. But I can tell you what I got was nowhere near what local amateur Jeremy Perez of SAC put together. This excellent video was shot from Mount Elden, and includes real-time and time-lapse segments (RT=1:18).

Till next we meet, clear skies.

Dan Heim
Desert Foothills Astronomy Club

December 2017 DFAC Update
February 2018 DFAC Update