March 2019 DFAC Update

quidnoviElectronic Newsletter of the
Desert Foothills Astronomy Club

Captain’s Log: March 1, 2019

Greetings Fellow Stargazers,

That recent stretch of cold weather dropped an inch of graupel here at Heimhenge. Unprecedented. The heat exchanger coils on our heat pump froze up (twice) for the first time since installed 12 years ago. Here’s a photo of our front patio after the storm passed. Click to enlarge:

Needless to say, I haven’t been doing much observing. But I’m still hoping the weather will permit a club session up here in late March. Keep your eye on the DFAC Events page for updates.

1. Asteroid 25743 Serrato
Member (and co-founder) Roger Serrato just had an asteroid named after him. Not because he discovered it, but because of his many hours volunteering at Lowell. His latest project was organizing, scanning, and digitizing their voluminous archive of printed materials. The document he was presented with is reproduced below. The text of the award reads:

Congratulations on having an asteroid named for you. Note that the naming of an asteroid is not just an internal Lowell Observatory name. The naming of an astronomical object has to be approved by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and, as such, the name will be considered the “official” name for the asteroid in the astronomical community. Thus, the name of your asteroid will henceforth be used in any scientific discourse involving this object. The name of your asteroid will be treated no differently than (for example) the names of Mars or Pluto, or any other named asteroid such as (1) Ceres.

The presentation certificate consists of three sections. The first, at the top, is the IAU citation as published by the Minor Planet Center. The second is a plane view of the Solar System projected on the ecliptic plane (the plane of the orbit of the Earth). The orbits of Earth, Mars, and Jupiter are shown in yellow with the positions of those planets indicated at the exact time that the discovery image of your asteroid was taken. The orbit of your asteroid is shown in red with the position of the asteroid also shown at the discovery time. The yellow dots are the locations of the first 50,000 numbered asteroids also plotted at the same time. The third section gives specifics about your asteroid. These are: (1) the semi-major axis of the orbital ellipse; (2) the eccentricity of the orbital ellipse; (3) the inclination of the orbital ellipse to the ecliptic plane (which, due to the projection, cannot be seen in this representation).
With a diameter of 7–10 km, and a semi-major axis of 3.04 AU, it’ll be tough to spot in an amateur scope. If I infer correctly, it was discovered with the 0.6 meter (24″) Schmidt at Anderson Mesa. Congratulations to Roger from all of us!

2. All AZ Messier Marathon
The event this year is scheduled for March 30. Details in the flyer here.

3. Electronic billboards feedback survey
Thanks to all the members who acted on my request for feedback on Case TA2018001 – Off-Site Signage. Several members replied to say they had provided feedback to Maricopa County. This was my input:

As president of the Desert Foothills Astronomy Club I speak for myself and our members. We object to any changes in the code for electronic billboards that would increase either the number or density of these light polluting devices. Unlike shielded light fixtures, these devices are designed to put out their light horizontally and hence send a lot of light upward into the sky. This interferes with astronomy at both the amateur and professional level. Light pollution continues to increase, despite new technology and public education. Let’s not take another step backward. Thanks.

4. Telescopes to Tanzania update
The scope has arrived safely at its new home — the Mt. Meru Astronomical Observatory. Details and photos, up to the point where it shipped from Phoenix, can be seen here. There will be more to come after the telescope assembly starts onsite, currently scheduled for some time in May.

5. March Reflector now available
The electronic version of Reflector, newsletter of the Astronomical League, is now available for download. If you haven’t read one recently you should check it out. Their new expanded content allows for more in-depth articles, and the photos look much better than in print. Save a tree.

6. Games for Windows
This has absolutely nothing to do with astronomy. But I thought since I had it I’d share it with the members. If you were a fan of the Windows 7 games that were replaced by those ad-cluttered Windows 10 alternatives, you can recover all the Windows 7 games with this one-click executable. Sandi wanted Spider Solitaire back on her Surface tablet, and I found this available online after a bit of a search. It has been virus tested and installed successfully here. Also, it’s been zipped into a folder since many browsers and antivirus don’t like downloading executable files. You can get it here: (150 MB). Enjoy.

7. Astronomical Eye Candy
Member Stuart Samberg forwarded me this video. I know this is preaching to the choir, but in these troubling times Sagan’s words seem especially poignant. The accompanying text:

This excerpt from Carl Sagan’s book “Pale Blue Dot” (1994) was inspired by an image taken, at Sagan’s suggestion, by Voyager 1 on Feb 14, 1990. The earth is shown from a distance of about 6 billion km (3.7 billion miles). Voyager 1 had completed its primary mission, and was leaving the Solar System when, at the request of Carl Sagan, it was commanded by NASA to turn its camera around, and take one last photo of Earth across a great expanse of space. The attached video’s accompanying words spoken by Sagan, and written almost 25 years ago, are still relevant today. Sensitively felt, brilliantly spoken.

Till next we meet, clear skies.

Dan Heim
Desert Foothills Astronomy Club

February 2019 DFAC Update