March 2018 DFAC Update

quidnoviNewsletter of the Desert Foothills Astronomy Club
Captain’s Log: March 1, 2018

Greetings Fellow Stargazers,

The Vernal Equinox beckons, and warmer weather is on the horizon. Expect our first general observing session of the year sometime in April, preferable April 21 — a Saturday that happens to coincide with the Lyrid meteor shower. Sunset is at 19:00 MST and the waning Moon sets just after midnight. This won’t be all about the Lyrids, as there’s several nice targets up that evening: Jupiter, M57, M13. It’s not on the DFAC Events page yet, but keep that date in mind.

1. Speckle interferometry — Take 2
Member Richard Harshaw will attempt (for the second time) a lesson/demo in speckle interferometry at his Brilliant Sky Observatory in Cave Creek on March 31. 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 deployed outside for real-time group viewing. Plan to arrive by 7 pm. Hot coffee and chocolate will be provided, but dress for cold weather. Map and RSVP link available on our DFAC Events page. Hope to see you there. Thanks Richard!

2. Change in DFAC officers
Two changes to report, both made w/o member input as per our “DFAC Lite” protocol. First (not like it required any input) you’ll see on our Contact page that the position of Social Media Manager is now listed as vacant. Bill Tacon just up and disappeared and couldn’t be reached for comment. If any member has experience running a Facebook page, and would be interested in taking over, please let me know. Thanks.

Second, we’ve created a new officer position. Our inaugural Vatican Observatory Foundation Liaison is member Jim Renn, a long-time friend of the Foundation. Jim was recently elected to the VOF Board of Directors and specifically tasked with Public Outreach. He intends to act as an “open channel” between the general public and the VOF, via DFAC, and we’ll all benefit. In addition, he provides a connection with the VOF for potential speakers in our Lecture Series (a work in progress). Congrats to Jim, and thanks for taking this on!

3. Field trip to DCT
Member Roger Serrato (our contact at Lowell Observatory) spoke with observatory staff member Todd Gonzalez and secured an opportunity for a private group tour of the Discovery Channel Telescope (DCT). Todd suggests waiting till April or May (May sounds good to me) when the weather is better. We’d do carpooling like our last trip north to Prescott, but all I need right now is an interest count. Let me know and I’ll add you to the list.

4. IDA Nightwatch now online
Get your copy here.There’s some “illuminating” developments in New Zealand.

5. Lowell Observatory News
I get this link monthly and don’t often forward it, but there’s some great stuff happening at Lowell this year. Their planned public observing platform is a very ambitious project. And a new historical work detailing Lowell’s connection with Pluto has just been published. You might want to bookmark this page:

6. Astronomical Eye Candy
If you enjoy this regular feature in Quid Novi, I highly recommend spending some time on Vimeo. Just do a search for “astronomy” and rank the videos in order of popularity. New content is added daily. This month’s feature is A Fictive Flight Above Real Mars by artist Jan Fröjdman. Using NASA topographic images, and combining them via an anaglyph process, he created a 3D view from Mars orbit. You’ll need a pair of those red/blue glasses to get the real 3D effect, but it’s still a beautiful video without them. Nice sound track too. Go full screen and enjoy.

Till next we meet, clear skies.

Dan Heim
Desert Foothills Astronomy Club

February 2018 DFAC Update
April 2018 DFAC Update