April 2018 DFAC Update

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

Greetings Fellow Stargazers,

Happy Vernal Equinox to all. May your spin axis remain forever perpendicular.
And a Happy π Day (but more about that later).

1. Watch a naked-eye nova unfold
Exactly one week from today you’ll have an opportunity to witness a nova in real-time. According to projections based on recent flare frequency recorded by the Solar & Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), our Sun will detonate in one of the first novae visible to the naked eye since Nova Delphinus in 2013. Predicted visual magnitude depends on which way you’re facing, as you’ll be able to see it through the back of your head. Photographers are advised to wear shade #14 welders goggles (all around the head), and use a neutral-density filter of at least 5.0 (stacked in a series of 10). You needn’t bother submitting any images for posting here. Good luck!

2. Speckle interferometry
Weather just struck us out for the third time. You’ll see on our DFAC Events page that our planned event for Saturday was cancelled by “mostly cloudy” skies. Host Richard Harshaw, understandably frustrated, tells me that these days, on most clear nights, he’s engaged in interferometry, so he invites members to contact him anytime to inquire about a personal demo. Richard’s email and phone number are available on our Maps & Docs page. If you’ve “lost” the password, send me an email.

3. Open observing at Heimhenge
We’ll have our first open observing session of the year on Saturday, April 21. Fortuitously, that date is also the predicted peak for the Lyrid meteor shower (technically, it’s the morning of the April 22). Sunset is at 19:00, and the 1st Quarter Moon sets just after midnight. By 21:00 M13 will be well positioned, and by 22:00 so will M57 — and of course the Lyrid radiant point. So you can bring a scope, binocs, or just your favorite observing chair. More details on our DFAC Events page.

4. Reflector Magazine
A reminder that you have options for acquiring the quarterly newsletter from the Astronomical League. From the League:

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 webmaster@astroleague.org

Download the current issue in single-page format here:

Download the current issue in double-page format here:

5. News from Lowell Observatory
Two items From Roger Serrato up in Flagstaff …
New Instrument EXPRES Ready to Search for Earth-like Planets
A Runaway Star in the Small Magellanic Cloud

6. From the Vatican Observatory Foundation
Br. Guy Consolmagno of the VOF has a new presentation that’s receiving rave reviews. It’s titled “God’s  Mechanics: The Religious Life of Techies. Catch the video here:  https://media.usfca.edu/Watch/r8REc43G

The VOF newsletter had a link to a special “calculator” in celebration of International π Day (3/14). It’s capable of searching the first two billion digits of pi for any specific sequence of digits. And it’s amazingly fast. They suggested searching for the digits of your birth date, your name in binary, your street address, your DMV license number, etc. Mine were all there, some multiple times. You can try your luck at “mining pi” here.

7. From the IDA
The latest Nightwatch e-Newsletter from the International Dark-Sky Association is now online. The lead item is a fascinating story about emerging case law related to light pollution and light trespass. Read about this and much more here.

8. DCT field trip
Planning for our field trip to the Discovery Channel Telescope facility will commence soon. I provided more details and asked for RSVPs in the last Quid Novi, and we already have 7 RSVPs around which we’ll be planning the carpools. It’s not too late to get in on this. Just shoot me an email with the number in your party.

9. Astronomical Eye Candy
When I looked around Vimeo for a good time-lapse of the Lyrid meteor shower the selection was pretty sparse compared to the Perseids and Geminids. Fact is, last time the Lyrids put on a really good show was 1982, but the Lyrids are highly unpredictable. Here’s the best video I could find, with sound track, courtesy of Marc Zabo from Liberty Utah. You can read more details and camera specs on his Vimeo page. Enjoy!

Till next we meet, clear skies.

Dan Heim
Desert Foothills Astronomy Club

March 2018 DFAC Update
May 2018 DFAC Update