Newsletter of the Desert Foothills Astronomy Club
Issue #11: March 5th, 2007
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 10||6:00 pm - ?||DFAC Observing Session||Heimhenge|
|Mar 21||6:30 pm - 8:30 pm||Student Astronomy Night||New River Kiwanis Community Park (map available here).|
|Mar 28||7:00 pm - 9:00 pm||DFAC Lecture Meeting #6||Boulder Creek High School, 40404 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086|
|Apr 25||7:00 pm - 9:00 pm||DFAC Lecture Meeting #7||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|
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|Last Meeting: Wednesday, February 28th, 2007|
|We enjoyed a "double
feature" for this meeting. Our primary speaker was
Dr. John Fountain, who educated us on the topic of
archaeoastronomy (not astroarchaeology, as he explained
the terminology has evolved in common usage). He was
followed by colleague Dr. Helmut Abt, who enlightened us
about the Local Interstellar Bubble. Provisional
President Dan Heim opened the meeting with a few items of
club business, reminding members that, weather
permitting, we'll be having our first DFAC observing
session on Saturday, March 10th.
It was our best turnout yet. We had 16 people (9 members and 6 guests) in attendance, all of whom stayed for the entire program. Thanks again to Jay Chatzkel who orchestrated this double lecture.
Dr. Fountain took over at this point. His digital slide show featured artifacts from around the world that likely had an astronomical genesis. We learned that, in addition to the obvious solar correlations, ancient societies tracked lunar, planetary, and stellar motions as well. Especially interesting are the records of the 1054 AD supernova, which seem to have had a global impact.
There are even some theories relating the Easter Island statues to astronomical motions, but much of this is still in the realm of speculation. One of Dr. Fountain's main points was that we simply cannot place ourselves into these ancient cultures and make assumptions about what they felt was important. Still, there are some clues that allow tentative assumptions. The celestial alignments engineered into ancient structures provide ample proof that Man was studying the sky eons before He knew what those bright points of light really were.
Following Dr. Fountain's lecture, his colleague Dr. Helmut Abt provided us with a brief explanation of his current research on the Local Interstellar Bubble. His research shows that our solar system, along with many neighboring stars, exist in a "bubble" of lower-density interstellar medium. This bubble is presumably the result of an ancient supernova, the shock wave from which has cleared a significant volume of space. The evidence was absorption lines in spectra that correlated with stars at known distances. Absence of absorption lines implies the star is inside the bubble.
Turns out that most of us knew very little about this discovery, and we discussed the possibility of Dr. Abt returning for a lecture next season. He expressed an interest in doing so, and admitted that he didn't know that much about the bubble either (other than deducing its existence). This is a relatively new phenomenon. No doubt, if he returns for a lecture next season, there will be more discoveries to report. Imagine that ... we live inside an interstellar bubble.
After the lectures, as always, we had a chance to chat informally with our speakers. Here we see several DFAC members inquiring about the Local Interstellar Bubble. Dr. Abt was happy to expand on his previous comments. The doors closed around 9:30 pm, ending one of this season's most interesting lectures.
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|Next Meeting: Wednesday, March 28th, 2007|
|Our March speaker will be Bob Homes,
aka Meteorite Man. Bob was a student of mine back in the
early days when I taught physics at Brophy Prep. In the
year's since, he has amassed one of the finest private
meteor collections in the state. He recently accepted a
Governors appointment to the Arizona Department of Mines
and Mineral Resources, where he will serve as one of five
Board Members. Bob will be speaking to us about
everything from collection and identification to analysis
and classification. You can visit his website to learn
more at: http://www.meteoritebiz.com/.
Although I had mistakenly stated Bob had Moon and Mars meteorites in his collection, he does not. However, he tells me he knows someone who does and will attempt to borrow them for this lecture, but no guarantees. This could be your chance to touch pieces of the Moon and Mars. If not, you'll still get to handle several of his amazing "more common" specimens. We hope to see you all there.
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|Quote of the Month:|
|"How quickly do we grow
accustomed to wonders. I am reminded of the Isaac Asimov
story 'Nightfall,' about the planet where the stars were
visible only once in a thousand years. So awesome was the
sight that it drove men mad. We who can see the stars
every night glance up casually at the cosmos and then
quickly down again, searching for a Dairy Queen."
Roger Ebert, from a movie review in the "Chicago Sun Times"
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|As I was scrounging around looking for
something to use in this month's Space Debris, I stumbled
across this old poem written by my brother Dave, now in
Albuquerque working as an electrical engineer. At the
time he wrote this poem (high school) his aspirations
included a double-major in physics and astronomy. Things
didn't work out that way, but I've always thought this
was a pretty good writing for a high-schooler. And so I
now share with you, his version of the classic
"Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (with apologies to Jane Taylor)
Twinkle twinkle little star
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