DFAC Presents Mr. Sun at Anthem Veterans Day Event

On November 7th, 2009, DFAC returned for another solar observing session at the Anthem Veterans Day Parade and Festival. This event was at the request parade organizers, who received much positive feedback after last year's event. It appears this will now be an annual booking for DFAC, as well as a potential fundraiser. Given this is still IYA2009, the 400th anniversary of Galileo's invention of the telescope, we could hardly refuse. We had 5 DFAC members working this event: Roger Serrato, Jim & Jean Renn, Raul Espinoza, and Dan Heim.

Roger brought his 8" CAT with a neutral density filter. Dan had his 5" refractor with an H-alpha filter. Raul had some 10x40 binocs outfitted with mylar filters on both objectives. Jim had his 8" CAT set up for terrestrial observation, and his 200x view of a saguaro at the top of Circle Mountain seemed most impressive to our visitors, as it provided more tangible demonstration of just how much a scope can magnify. Jean ran our info table, answering questions and handing out DFAC brochures. The Sun, unfortunately, showed no spots and only a couple very tiny flares. Even through the H-alpha filter, minimal granularity could be seen on the solar disc. The sky was clear, but a slight haze limited resolution. We're still on our way out of a solar minimum, so hopefully next year there will be more to show.

All photos courtesy of Roger Serrato.

We had Roger's tent for shade again, which significantly improved image contrast, not to mention comfort. It was a warm day for November,

This was Roger's view, showing the featureless solar disc. Even with no spots, visitors remarked that it was "amazing to just see the Sun safely."

One of our visitors strains to see the tiny, low-contrast flares that are often difficult for adults. Dan explains how the eyes of children are more sensitive to these red wavelengths.

Raul sits comfortably in the shade with his mylar filtered binocs and a bottle of water.

As you can see, we had a different setup area than last year's event, far from the dust of the baseball diamond. Our optics appreciated that. Located between the main entrance to the park and the food court, it was a higher visibility position. We estimate some 200 people filed through for a view of the Sun. Comments, as with last year, were very positive.

There were several other non-profit organizations set up along this walkway, such as the Phoenix Herpetological Society and a local birding group. They had "donation boxes" and seemed to be taking in a fair amount of cash. Next year, DFAC will do the same. The crowd is generous, interested in what we do, and grateful for the obvious effort we put into setting this all up. It makes sense to take advantage of this good will and raise some funds for our treasury. But we'd feel better about it if we could actually show them some sunspots and large flares. Keep your fingers crossed for 2010.