July 2018 DFAC Update

quidnoviNewsletter of the Desert Foothills Astronomy Club
Captain’s Log: July 2, 2018

Greetings Fellow Stargazers,

Between summer weather and vacations there’s not much in the way of DFAC news save for the following items.

1. DCT field trip
Our Discovery Channel Telescope field trip is all systems go. Based on feedback from my carpooling survey it appears no members will require rides and everyone will provide their own transportation. At my last RSVP count we have 12 members/spouses/friends attending in a total of 7 vehicles. Todd Gonzales, my contact at Lowell, said parking at the DCT is limited to “about 15 vehicles” so no problems there. We are expected to arrive for our private inside tour by noon on Saturday, July 21. If you need maps, they’re in the June Quid Novi. See you all at the DCT!

2. BB&MF at Walker Ranch
Just a reminder that the week after our DCT field trip is the annual Beer, Brats, and Movie Festival at Walker Ranch. If you haven’t yet RSVPed (and voted for your favorite two sci-fi movies) please do so by July 22. More details are available on our DFAC Events page.

3. Mars Night
Our next observing session here at Heimhenge is about a month away, so as the date approaches don’t forget to RSVP. Details and map can be found on our DFAC Events page. Of note, Mars is currently experiencing a near-global dust storm as summer warms its southern hemisphere. These things can last for weeks to months so it is unknown at this point what might be visible at opposition. If the weather on Mars clears up by then, because this is a perihelic opposition, all the major surface features should be visible in a good scope. To read more about the Mars Opposition, see this week’s post in Sky Lights.

4. Vesta easily visible
Vesta is the second-largest known asteroid (after Ceres) with a diameter of about 326 miles. It’s also fairly light in color which makes it intrinsically brighter. Vesta is currently about 1 AU from Earth and shining at magnitude 5.6, making it visible to the naked eye under good conditions. As of July 2, you can find it about halfway between Saturn and η-Oph (Eta Ophiuchi), the lower-left-corner star of that constellation. I’ll be scanning for it with my binocs tonite, and might take a look through my scope tomorrow. I’ve made a sky chart you can use to help locate it visually. You can view or download the map here: Vesta.jpg. It’s a large image (1841 x 1012 px) so you might not see all the details in your browser.

5. DFAC membership
First, I’d like to welcome our newest member Melvin Hildreth III from Black Canyon City. That brings our (presumed) membership to 17. I have not yet received an accounting of renewals from Treasurer Jay Chatzkel, as we extended our renewal date from the usual May 30 to June 30 with the recent change in cost. Dues are now reduced from $25/family to $10/family to reflect the elimination of speaker honoraria costs. I’m sure I’ll have an accurate count, as well as an updated Treasurer’s Report, in time for the August Quid Novi.

6. Astronomical Eye Candy
The Dawn Mission spacecraft recently visited asteroid 4 Vesta and captured enough high-resolution images to compile a full rotation animation of this object. You can see how bright the surface is compared to most asteroids we’ve visited. Metallic compounds and impact dust on the surface are the likely cause, according to mission scientists at NASA. Read their summary findings here.

Till next we meet, clear skies.

Dan Heim
Desert Foothills Astronomy Club

June 2018 DFAC Update
August 2018 DFAC Update