April 2019 DFAC Update

quidnoviElectronic Newsletter of the
Desert Foothills Astronomy Club

Captain’s Log: April 1, 2019


Greetings Fellow Stargazers,

1. Open observing
Weather was not cooperative this March, as I’m sure you all noticed. Between that and other business there wasn’t a single good night to try for an observing session here at Heimhenge. As always, I’ll keep an eye on the sky and look for an opening in April. Check in on our DFAC Events page occasionally to see what might be up (no pun intended).

2. Experiment at Walker Star Barn
Ron decided to add a Wednesday showing to his usual Saturday/Sunday lineup. He got some feedback from people who are busy on weekends, so he’s trying this in April to see just how much interest there is. You can see his April schedule on our DFAC Events page.

3. Special offer from OPT
OPT says it’s offering an “educational discount” to members of clubs like our who help promote astronomy. They don’t say how much the discount is, but if you’re in the market for anything astronomical you should check out their offer. Here’s the text of the email:

We here at OPT would like to thank you for promoting Astronomy in Arizona. We love Astronomy just like you, and know what a vital role your organization plays in promoting Astronomy. If you have any questions about equipment or need tech support, we are here for you and have been for 70+ years.

I would also like to extend to YOU and ALL members of your organization our Observatory/Educational discount! If you’re interested, please shoot me an email with the items you’re interested in. Or feel free to give us a call. Thanks for all you do and clear skies!

Jason C.Leon
Director of Sales | OPT, LLC

4. Inexplicable mirage
After that last bout of cold weather I walked out on my deck to check the evening sky and see if maybe it was finally clear. I saw some strange lights floating over Anthem that I couldn’t immediately explain. I knew it had to be some type of mirage, but wasn’t sure of the mechanism involved. I was able to get some photos, and they offered a few clues. I even consulted with Les Cowley at Atmospheric Optics (who suggested an alternative explanation). I’ve had exchanges with Les on other occasions when I was unsure of some optical phenomena, and he’s a very knowledgeable guy (as even a casual perusal of his website will show). Bottom line … neither of us could come up with a definitive explanation. You can read the whole story, and see my photos of the phenomenon, in this week’s Sky Lights: Extreme Superior Mirage.

Also, if any member can think of an alternate explanation, or wants to weigh-in on the reflection vs. refraction hypotheses, please send me your ideas. Everyone loves a good mystery, but this one is bugging me.

5. Astronomical Eye Candy
I’m sure you all know China has a lander and rover on the far side of the Moon. There’s been new images every few days on Space.com. My March 18 Sky Lights was about Chang’e-4 (if you need to catch up). Some of the first video is now being released, and this one shows the rover (Yutu-2) after it descended the lander.

Till next we meet, clear skies.

Dan Heim
President
Desert Foothills Astronomy Club