October 2017 DFAC Update

quidnoviNewsletter of the Desert Foothills Astronomy Club
Captain’s Log: October 2, 2017

Greetings Fellow Stargazers,

1. Equinox Social at Heimhenge
If you didn’t attend our Equinox Social you missed a great time. 12 members were present, four shared their photos of the August 21 eclipse, food and drink were outstanding (thanks to my wife Sandi), and a stellar time was had by all. We never got to Asteroid Billiards because the conversations just kept going, and we moved out onto the deck later to enjoy the beautiful weather and watch the Heimhenge shadows align (albeit one day late) for the Equinox. You can DL the all the related multimedia (sans narration and big screen projection) below:

2. How the Great American Eclipse affected Google search requests
Check out this fascinating statistical map from Google showing search engine traffic the week before the eclipse. That is one tight correlation. I guess Big Brother knows what we’re interested in.

3. First presentation of DFAC Lecture Series

We kick off our 2017-2018 Lecture Series with a presentation by member Jim Renn. He became the “curator” of a slide show originally assembled by Fr. William Stoeger SJ. The presentation is: Big Bang Cosmology, Quantum Cosmology, and the Philosophical Concept of Creation. Fr. Stoeger gave this presentation in person to DFAC back in March 2012, but as some of you may know, he passed away in 2014. Jim’s presentation is largely Fr. Stoeger’s content, with a few introductory remarks and embellishments. Details on our DFAC Events page.

4. Invitation to LIGO presentation
I received an email from Pete Turner, PAS Secretary, inviting all our club members to attend a presentation at PVCC on October 5, 7:30 – 9:00 pm (doors open at 7:00), in Kranitz Student Center: room KSC-1000A. This is actually an “update” presentation on the LIGO research we learned about last year from Dr. Zanolin and Kai Staats. This from PAS:

You are invited to attend the following presentation to the The Phoenix Astronomical Society (PAS): A video “Seeking Supernovae in Gravitational Waves” and a presentation on the evening of October 5, 2017 at Paradise Valley Community College by Kai Staats, and Dr. Michele (mee-kay-lay) Zanolin.

Kai Staats MSc, a former president of PAS (1988-90), now engages his passion for science, astronomy, and storytelling through film. “LIGO Detection” marks his third National Science Foundation funded film for the gravitational wave observatory that detected two merging black holes in 2015. Kai has worked at both LIGO and the Square Kilometre Array, South Africa (where Kai is currently located) in the application of machine learning to data analysis. Mr. Staats will be presenting via Skype.

Dr. Michele Zanolin, PhD. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott, Arizona. He leads the supernovae detection team at LIGO. Dr. Zanolin started his PhD at the University of Parma, Italy and in 1999 moved to MIT. He has been based in Prescott, Arizona since 2007 where he and his team conduct research in experimental general relativity, focusing primarily on gravitational wave detection through the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. Dr. Zanolin will be presenting in person.

4. LIGO animation

This just in from Kai Staats (see item 3) — a new 2D animation produced to explain gravitational waves in the simplest possible terms and with the simplest possible geometry. Nicely done. See it here

5. LightSail animation

DFAC made a contribution to the LightSail Kickstarter fund so we’re on their mailing list for updates. Here’s the latest in the form of a cool 3D animation showing how the craft is assembled, deployed, and maneuvered. See it here.

6. New International Dark Sky Park in Arizona

This just in from IDA (which DFAC also supports). Arizona now has it’s fifth IDSP! Read all about it here.

7. October at Walker Star Barn
It’s a busy month at Walker Star Barn as you can see from our DFAC Events page. Ron’s trying a couple new things this month in addition to the usual fare. First, on October 28 & 29, is a simulated polar orbit to view the night sky from latitude -90 to +90. Special aurora lighting effects will be included. The second is a running of the 1980 classic Cosmos by Carl Sagan. This series has 13 one-hour segments. Episode 1: The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean
will be presented on October 21.

8. Asteroid 3122
Some of you know JD Maddy, president of Astroverde. He posted a link on AZ-Observing to a video he made of the 3-mile diameter Asteroid 3122 as it passed closest to Earth at a distance of 4.4 Mmi in late August. Video was shot through a 6″ refractor with a Canon DSLR. Expand to full screen for best view. W
atch it here.

9. Astronomical Eye Candy:
I got an email from David Fogel, Ph.D. who asked me to share this video of the August 21 eclipse with our members. He co-produced the video and also composed the original score. We streamed it at our Equinox Social but I had to use laptop audio. Also suffered WIFI buffering. So here it is again, sans full-screen option, for enjoyment on your system. Sound on:


Till next we meet, clear skies.

Dan Heim
Desert Foothills Astronomy Club