Newsletter of the Desert Foothills Astronomy Club
Issue #8: December 3rd, 2006
About Quid Novi
State of DFAC
Quote of the Month
Contact the Editor: Dan Heim, phone: 623.465.7307 or email:
|Sep 27||7:00 pm - 9:00 pm||DFAC Lecture Meeting #1||Boulder Creek High School, 40404 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086|
|Oct 25||7:00 pm - 9:00 pm||DFAC Lecture Meeting #2||Boulder Creek High School, 40404 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086|
|Oct 30||5:30 pm - 8:00 pm||Ladies Guild Astronomy Night||6609 E. El Sendero Drive, Cave Creek, AZ 85331 (contact Dan Heim for gate code)|
|Nov 28||5:30 pm - 7:30 pm||Student Astronomy Night||Foothills Academy College Prep, 7191 E. Ashler Hills Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85262|
|Nov 29||7:00 pm - 9:00 pm||DFAC Lecture Meeting #3||Boulder Creek High School, 40404 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086|
|Jan 18||5:30 pm - 8:00 pm||Student Astronomy Night||New River Elementary School, 48827 N. Black Canyon HWY (Exit 232 east to frontage north)|
|Jan 31||7:00 pm - 9:00 pm||DFAC Lecture Meeting #4||Boulder Creek High School, 40404 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086|
|Feb 28||7:00 pm - 9:00 pm||DFAC Lecture Meeting #5||Boulder Creek High School, 40404 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086|
|Mar 21||6:30 pm - 8:30 pm||Student Astronomy Night||Eastside Explorers Homeschool Group, address TBA|
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|State of DFAC: By Dan Heim, President|
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|Last Meeting: Wednesday, November 29th, 2006|
|Wayne Johnson, aka "Mr.
Galaxy," Chairman of the Western Region of the
Astronomical League, was our guest speaker for the
evening. But before the lecture, we first solved a
long-standing problem with our meeting room. The
ceiling-mounted LCD projector hangs just below a
ventilation duct. Resonance induced vibrations jitter the
image on the screen. Our last speaker, Dr. Jeff Hester of
ASU, suggested that all we needed was some damping. A
small drywall sponge, cut on a bandsaw to 5" length,
was just what the doctor ordered. Problem solved. The new
vibration amplitude is only 10-20% of what it was. Thanks
to Dr. Hester for the suggestion!
By 7:15 pm the projector was still, our speaker was ready, and the members had arrived. You see them here milling about and chatting about matters astronomical. There's always a lot of good conversation even before the meeting starts. Left to right: Wayne Johnson, Jim Renn, Roger Serrato, Scott Loucks, George Kantarges, and Ron Walker. Photos by Dan Heim.
The meeting began with Wayne speaking about the history, structure, membership benefits, and activities of the Astronomical League. Most of this information is, of course, available on the League website at http://www.astroleague.org/ but it was more informative to hear it presented by one of their officers, and convenient for asking and answering questions. If you haven't already been to the League website, take some time to browse around there. The guided observing programs are an excellent resource for beginners and experienced amateurs alike.
After about 30 minutes of Astronomical League education, we moved into part two of the evening's lecture. Mr. Galaxy earned that moniker for his multiple supernova discoveries, including two in a single evening! Wayne had prepared a nice personal account of his experience, so rather than reproduce it here, it was scanned and OCR'ed into electronic form. You can download that document below:
With the small group at hand, there was a lot of interaction between members and speaker. Everyone wanted to know the details about how he acheived his 6 SN discoveries. In addition to quality equipment, according to Mr. Galaxy, it mostly boils down to time at the eyepiece (or CCD). He also emphasized the importance of having access to quality reference images of galaxies for comparison. There's a lot of this online, and he recommends the Bright Supernovae Website: http://www.rochesterastronomy.org/snimages/.
Members in attendance: 6 (a bit low, but still not too bad for a new club).
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|Next Meeting: Wednesday, January 31st, 2007|
|Our January speaker is still not locked in, not like there's a rush, but I did want to get this issue of Quid Novi out near the 1st of the month. We have several possibilities, including Bob Holmes (meteorite broker), Dr. David Burstein (ASU Dept. of Physics), Dr. Jeff Hester (for a return engagement), and a local distinguished amateur (yet to be determined). Trust that we'll have one of these speakers locked in well before the meeting date. You can check our Lectures page for updates any time, but I'll post an email to members when we have our man.|
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|Quote of the Month:|
|"Telescopes are in some ways
like time machines. They reveal galaxies so far away that
their light has taken billions of years to reach us. We
in astronomy have an advantage in studying the universe,
in that we can actually see the past. We owe our
existence to stars, because they make the atoms of which
we are formed. So if you are romantic you can say we are
literally starstuff. If you're less romantic you can say
we're the nuclear waste from the fuel that makes stars
shine. We've made so many advances in our understanding.
A few centuries ago, the pioneer navigators learnt the
size and shape of our Earth, and the layout of the
continents. We are now just learning the dimensions and
ingredients of our entire cosmos, and can at last make
some sense of our cosmic habitat.
Sir Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal of Great Britain
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|One of the reasons we astronomy clubs
do outreach is self-promotion and the search for new
members. Another is our intrinsic desire to share what we
love, and hopefully inspire the next generation to get
involved with this cosmic hobby. Still another, not often
cited, is an encumbent responsibility to act as a
"knowledge base" for the public, who are often
grossly misinformed on matters astronomical. If I had a
nickel for every time I was asked about "UFO's"
or the "Apollo Moon Hoax" or "balancing an
egg on the equinox," I would already be retired.
When you get these types of questions at an observing
event, take the time to respect the question and provide
an informed answer. Don't just dismiss them abruptly.
This is your chance to increase the public astronomy IQ.
There's a website that addresses these issues, and it's really worth checking out. Bad Astronomy is a fascinating website, hosted by Philip Plait at Sonoma State University in California. He's doing a great job providing resources to help debunk these astronomical myths. You can visit his website at: http://www.badastronomy.com/intro.html
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