Newsletter of the Desert Foothills Astronomy Club
Issue #9: January 10th, 2007

About Quid Novi

Past Issues

DFAC Events

State of DFAC

Last Meeting

Next Meeting

Quote of the Month

Space Debris

Contact the Editor: Dan Heim, phone: 623.465.7307 or email:

DFAC Events:
Date   Time   Event   Location
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 17   6:00 pm - ?   DFAC Observing Session   Heimhenge in New River
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
Apr 25   7:00 pm - 9:00 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #6   Boulder Creek High School, 40404 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086
May 30   7:00 pm - 9:00 pm   DFAC Business Meeting   Boulder Creek High School, 40404 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086

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State of DFAC: By Dan Heim, President
  • Happy New Year to all! I must first apologize for the late publication of this month's newsletter. With our next meeting scheduled for Jan 31, at least there's still plenty of time to get the words out. Between the rush of the holidays, and some difficulties rounding up this semester's speakers, I got behind in a lot of areas. Mea maxima culpa.
  • Speaking of speakers, check out the lineup on our Lectures page. You'll see we still have January and February open. I'm working on a return visit by Dr. Jeff Hester for a "Quantum Cosmology" lecture, but have yet to receive a response. As the date for our next meeting approaches, I'm in a bind about whether to wait for Hester (and hold both months open) or go ahead and schedule something else. I bet you thought this speaker scheduling stuff was easy. Wrong. So at present, I have nothing to announce for the next meeting. If we come up dry on speakers, I promise some entertaining and educational multimedia. I'll post a special email to members as soon as I know for sure what's happening at our Jan 31 meeting.
  • I'd like to welcome our newest DFAC member, Mike Fuller. Mike's a buddy of mine from way back. For awhile, we were both members of PAS. He's got a nice 10" Dob that he tells me needs to get more use. I look forward to seeing him at many of our events this year.
  • Yet another change to our website ... you might have noticed the Nasa News link is no longer on our main menu. As I was reformatting the NASA material for our website, it occurred to me that it would be more efficient to just link to that feed (since our current webmaster is already overworked). So you will now find the NASA News on our Links page. By the time I figured this all out, I had already done the page, so rather than deleting it you can view it here.
  • I was contacted in December by a gentleman up in north Scottsdale who had recently purchased a go-to telescope that was, in his words, "smarter than he was." He needed some help learning how to set it up and operate it. Roger Serrato went out there last week, got him up and running, and scored another $100 donation for DFAC. Thanks to Roger for his time and effort!
  • Our next public event, Astronomy Night at New River Elementary School, is scheduled for Thursday, January 18th (see DFAC Events above). This could involve a larger group of observers, so if you can assist with a scope, it would be greatly appreciated. We still have only Scott Loucks and myself confirmed, and should have at least one other scope for this group. In fact, if we could have any member show up sans scope just to run my 10x80 binocs, that would be good too. I'll be running my Takahashi. Contact me if you can help. Thanks!
  • Our final public event for the year is still a work in progress. Tentatively set for Wednesday, March 21st, we'll be with the Eastside Explorers Homeschool Group. Like the Ladies Guild event, this one will feed our treasury. A donation, amount unspecified, has been promised. This will also be a large group (40-50) of adults and children, so we'll really need some scopes there. Date and details should be finalized by the next issue of this newsletter.
  • I received an email from Robert Wilson (Astronomical League) regarding an upcoming NOAO workshop on digital imaging. Here's the text:
    The National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, Arizona is hosting a series of imaging workshops beginning in March and featuring Robert Reeves. The topics presented are web cam imaging and digital astrophotography. Attached is information about the workshops and where to go for additional details. Please make this information available in whatever form is most convenient to the members of your respective organizations. Thank you very much. All the best and clear skies in the New Year.
    You can view/download the program info (16k PDF)
  • You know, we still haven't had a private observing session for DFAC members only. And that was one of the things we decided was important to us at our organizational meeting. Saturday, February 17 looks good to me. There's a New Moon that night, and it's still dark enough up here to do some decent deep sky observing. But mainly this would be about DFAC just getting together someplace easy, and getting to know each other and our instruments. I've posted it in the Events list above. Please RSVP if you plan to attend, so I can gauge the interest for this event.
  • And don't forget ... we're still looking for a real Editor to take over this newsletter for 2007-2008. If you have the skills, and a couple hours a month spare time, think about stepping up for this position when we have our elections at our May Business Meeting. It would also be great if the Editor had a digital camera to do some photos at our meetings and other events.
  • Thanks for reading Quid Novi. You know where to send your feedback. Clear skies!

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Last Meeting: NA
Ahem ... we didn't meet in December.

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Next Meeting: Wednesday, January 31st, 2007
Our January speaker is still not booked. It will be one of the following:

Dr. Jeff Hester on "Quantum Cosmology"
Dr. John Fountain on "Astroarcheology"
Dan Heim on "Astronomy Multimedia Online"

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Quote of the Month:
"Think again of those astronomers who beamed radio signals into space from Arecibo, describing Earth's location and its inhabitants. In its suicidal folly that act rivalled the folly of the last Inca emperor, Atahuallpa, who described to his gold-crazy Spanish captors the wealth of his capital and provided them with guides for the journey. If there really are any radio civillizations within listening distance of us, then for heaven's sake let's turn off our own transmitters and try to escape detection, or we are doomed. Fortunately for us, the silence from outer space is deafening. What woodpeckers (they are the only species on the planet to have developed means to dig holes in living trees to eat insects living under bark) teach us about flying saucers is that we are unlikely to ever see one."

— Jared Diamond, "The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee"

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Space Debris:
We sometimes overlook the fact that, even in the daytime, there's some really spectacular phenomena visible within our own atmosphere. Beyond the obvious rainbows and sundogs, there are hundreds of unusual optical effects to look for ... if you know what to look for. Have you ever heard of "glories?" How about "nacreous clouds?" "Anti-crepuscular rays?" Beautiful photos, along with some basic explanations, can be found at a website called Atmospheric Optics. The site is run by entirely by Les Cowley, and is very nicely done for an individual effort. There's no info I can find about just who Wes Cowley is, or what his affiliations are, but I really like his work (and the photos submitted by many others). So I've added his site on our Links page.

Check out Atmospheric Optics at:

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