August 2018 DFAC Update

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


Greetings Fellow Stargazers,

The August Quid Novi is out a couple days early to accommodate planning for our event this Saturday.

As during most monsoon seasons I haven’t seen much clear sky lately. During brief late night breaks in the clouds Mars is shining like a beacon, currently at magnitude -2.78 — brighter than expected due to an albedo increase from dust suspended in the atmosphere. But more on that later. First item this month has to be …

1. DCT field trip
I discovered a nifty WordPress plugin for slide shows. With this one you can advance slides by clicking the dots, swiping with the mouse cursor, or swiping with your finger on a touch screen.

DCT looms in the distance.
Slider


In attendance at DCT (see final slide): Dan & Sandi Heim, Scott & Dianne Rohrer, Dave Beams, Duane & Christina Engdahl, Raul Espinoza & Trevor, Jay Chatzkel, Kai Staats & Colleen, Melvin Hildreth (our newest member — welcome!).
If you missed this field trip, here’s the next best thing — a virtual tour of DCT.  Media link from Scott Rohrer:

http://www.discoveryeducation.com/Live/discovery-channel-telescope.cfm

2. Open observing at Heimhenge
Don’t forget to RSVP for our Aug 4 observing session. Details on the DFAC Events page. The long term forecast shows our cloudy weather moving out by the weekend. Follow the usual daily weather updates on that same page. The global dust storm on Mars does seem to be dissipating slightly. Check out the comparisons below (photos by HST):

Probably the first time I’ll be watching the weather updates for two planets simultaneously.

3. Perseid Meteor Watch
Might be pushing our luck in monsoon season, but the week after Mars observing we’ll have our annual Perseid Meteor Watch also here at Heimhenge. I decided to go with Sunday night viewing because that’s closer to the predicted peak, and for most of us, punching in on Monday is no longer a thing. Details, as always, on our DFAC Events page. RSVPs requested.

4. Beer, Brats, & Movie Festival
Thanks to Ron & Julie Walker for hosting their annual BB&M Festival. A great time was had by all. The featured film this year was, by popular vote, Contact — the 1997 science fiction classic starring Jodie Foster. There were plenty of good eats (and drinks) to choose from. Plus, Katherine’s second book (from her Other Worlds Trilogy) was finally available: Book 2: The Found. I brought home my autographed copy.

5. Private showing at the Star Barn
At the request of several members, Ron Walker has graciously consented to do a special presentation at the Star Barn. Many members have never visited his planetarium and would learn some interesting Star Barn history, projector mechanics and optics, and basic astronomy. Ron will include a short laserium show, set to the music of TBA. Read the details and RSVP on (where else?) the DFAC Events page.

6. Astronomical Eye Candy
Of course this month we feature Mars. Here’s a great promo video by Sila Sveta on Vimeo showcasing the new Mars exhibit at Houston Space Center. It’s too long a distance for a field trip, but if you’ve never visited the Center try to make it part of your next vacation. We visited a few years ago, too early to see this exhibit.

Till next we meet, clear skies.

Dan Heim
President
Desert Foothills Astronomy Club