May 2018 DFAC Update

quidnoviNewsletter of the Desert Foothills Astronomy Club
Captain’s Log: May 3, 2018

Greetings Fellow Stargazers,

First, my apologies for this late posting. I usually shoot for the first of the month, but things have been busy here at Heimhenge and I’m behind on a lot of projects. The situation is not likely to change for the foreseeable future, so this brings me to my first point of business.

1. Further reduction of DFAC activities
I am unable to continue scheduling guest speakers for our Lecture Series at the ACB. This is normally the task of the Vice President, a position that has remained unfilled for some time now, but I assumed that responsibility for as long as I could. At present, I no longer have the discretionary time to continue.

I can continue as President, Webmaster, and Editor, and also continue hosting observing sessions. But at this point, if the members want to continue our Lecture Series, someone will have to step up to the plate and take that responsibility. Since that function is the primary responsibility of the VP (see our Constitution), what I’m asking if for someone to assume that office.

This is all in the spirit of full disclosure, since membership renewals for the 2018-2019 season are due by May 31, and the 2018-2019 season may be different from what you are accustomed to. It would be great to see all members return and ride out this (hopefully) temporary reduction in activities.

2. Membership renewals
That said, should we drop our Lecture Series for this season, dues could be reduced from their historically constant $25 per family per season to $10. Our internet services are paid through March of 2021, and our Treasury has a current balance of about $350, but at this point $10 meets our Astronomical Society membership as well as annual $35 donation to the IDA and other peripheral donations, as we did for Lowell’s Pluto Telescope Restoration fundraiser and the Light Sail kickstarter.

But hold off on your dues please until we know if our Lecture Series will continue. Our Constitution specifies that officer elections happen in May. I will assume all current officer positions remain as is (thank you Jay, Diann, and Jim) unless notified to the contrary by the end of this month. Likewise, the position of VP must be decided by that time, so if you are interested, please let me know.

Based on what happens in the next 3 weeks I’ll know how to proceed. In the June Quid Novi I’ll announce what membership renewals will cost and what officer positions are filled.

FYI, DFAC is also still in need of a Social Media Manager, so if you have Facebook skills and want to revive our page there, please let me know.

3. DCT field trip
This event will go on as planned, sometime in late May or June. We currently have 7 RSVPs but it’s not too late to get involved. This would be a day trip with car-pooling (coordinated by me). Date and time are yet to be determined, as we are coordinating this via Roger Serrato at Lowell and he’s currently on a road trip with ETR unknown. We will be shooting for a Saturday tour of DCT but details are yet TBD.

4. Vatican Observatory Foundation
It’s always educational and entertaining stopping by the VOF website. This month top of the page is a video of several observatory staff answering the question: Why does the Vatican need a telescope?” A good question that many wonder about. In fact, DFAC member Jim Renn is putting the finishing touches on a lecture that addresses that very question. Formal Lecture Series at ACB or not, this could well be a members-only presentation here at Heimhenge on our own big screen (with snacks of course). More to come on this.

5. Dissertation defense
Danielle Adams (who spoke to DFAC last season on the topic of Arabian Astronomy) will be defending her doctoral dissertation at Flandrau Planetarium on May 9, 1 pm. You can DL the promo PDF here. We wish Danielle success in her quest to become Dr. Adams.

6. Saturday morning launch alert
An Atlas V rocket will launch from Vandenberg AFB this Saturday. Launch window opens at 04:05 MST and the weather forecast looks good for visibility from most of Arizona. Details on the VAFB launch schedules can be found here:

The first stage of this NASA launch will burn petrol + LOX, and with the Sun still below the horizon in AZ, but with its light reaching upper altitudes over CA, this could be a spectacular show. Even a launch in daylight would be interesting to capture.

Last Vandenberg launch I mistakenly used a telephoto instead of my wide-angle. See my “failed” attempt here. This time I’ll be up early and ready to shoot. Good luck with your attempts to capture this event.

7. Astronomical Eye Candy
Here’s what an Atlas V night launch looks like (from the Cape). Not much of an audio track, but worth a full-screen view. Enjoy.

Till next we meet, clear skies.

Dan Heim
Desert Foothills Astronomy Club

April 2018 DFAC Update
June 2018 DFAC Update