Newsletter of the Desert Foothills Astronomy Club
Issue #12: April 2nd, 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 CANCELLED DUE TO WEATHER|
|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, March 28th, 2007|
|Provisional President Dan Heim opened
the meeting with a few items of club business, reminding
members that we still need a VP for next season, and how
this is the most critical position to fill. That was
followed by a brief report on our first DFAC members-only
observing session, successfully held at Heimhenge on
Saturday, March 10th (read more in Space Debris, below).
Next up was our speaker for the evening: Meteorite Man
Bob Holmes. Bob noted how, back in 1981 he was a student
in Dan's physics class at Brophy College Prep. Bob
recounts how Dan came in one day and excitedly asked if
anyone else had stayed up until 3 am to see a meteor
shower. At the time, Bob had no interest in meteors and
couldn't comprehend anyone staying up that late just to
see some shooting stars. How much of a personal catalyst
this was is unknown, but Bob now has one of the finest
Arizona meteorite (his specialty) collections in the
world. He was also recently appointed by the Governor as
one of five Board Members at the Arizona Department of
Mines and Mineral Resources. He spoke first of the basic
distinction between "meteoroid,"
"meteor," and "meteorite." From
there, he went on to explain the various categories of
meteorites, and how they are found, identified,
classified, and valued. Bob also shared some interesting
stories about his personal finds, and those of a a few
others (including the "renegade" collectors).
Part of Bob's collection was on display for members to view and handle. The thinly sliced pieces were cut from their originals to better show interior structure. Slices are usually polished on one or both sides to more readily reveal the internal nature, such as chondrules or inclusions, of the meteorite. Slices of iron meteorites, in addition to being polished, may also be etched with acid to reveal Widmanstatten patterns, if present. Bob slices his own, unless they are metallic which requires special equipment. During the Q&A part of his presentation, members learned about the intricacies of finding and identifying meteors on their own. He offered his assistance in specimen identification, should any of us be lucky enough to make our own find.
After the lecture, Bob was available for more Q&A from members and guests. As always, there was plenty of after-hours discussion on a variety of topics. We thank Bob for spending time with us, and enlightening us on a topic of great general interest. It was a fascinating lecture, filled with information, anecdotes, hands-on activity, and practical advice for would-be collectors.
There's one other thing we can thank Bob for. He donated this 166.3 gram iron-nickel meteorite to DFAC! It's part of the Campo del Cielo fall, which hit central Argentina about 5000 years ago. You can read more about the Campo fall here. Bob said it wasn't a particularly valuable specimen, worth perhaps $25 on the market, but felt it would be a nice thing to award to our new club. He said we were free to raffle it off to raise funds, or do whatever else we wanted with it. Dan Heim has an idea for the "whatever else." The specimen measures about 2 inches in length, and has a flat side (not visible below) where it could be drilled and threaded to accept a metal handle. The idea is to turn it into a "Galactic Gavel." Read on ...
Below is a photo of the first Galactic Gavel, created by Dan Heim and Roger Serrato (Roger did the woodworking part), for the Brophy Prep Astronomy Club back in the 90s. It is symbolic of the authority of the President, and passed on from officer to officer over the years. Club meetings were started and ended with a "big bang" as the gavel was brought to bear on the hard teak inset (dark circular disc) inside the carrying case. While our case need not be this fancy, the gavel idea is now open for discussion. The alternative is to raffle it off for fundraising, but Bob likes the gavel idea too. Coincidentally, the original gavel used an iron-nickel meteorite that had a similar mass and shape, but was part of the Canyon Diablo fall.
Turnout was slightly down for this meeting. We had seven members in attendance. But we also had five guests, hosted by Kim Lindvig (our former BCHS faculty liaison). Kim is now working with a home-school group and brought four of her charges along for the presentation. It was nice to see Kim again, and the home-school students enjoyed both the lecture and the chance to handle "rocks from space."
The doors closed around 9:30 pm, ending a fine hands-on lecture experience. Thanks again to Meteorite Man Bob Holmes.
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|Next Meeting: Wednesday, April 25th, 2007|
|Our March speaker was to be Dr. David Burstein of ASU. Unfortunately, I recently received an email from Dr. Burstein's daughter informing me that, due to health issues, he would be unable to attend. Our best wishes for Dr. Burstein's quick and full recovery. Our own Scott Loucks has graciously consented to fill in for Dr. Burstein. Scott will be speaking to us on the nuts & bolts of imaging and tracking small bodies, his own area of experience and expertise. He'll have images and animations showing some of his recent work. Come and learn how to discover your very own asteroid! See you there.|
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|Quote of the Month:|
|"The universe is like a safe
to which there is a combination, but the combination is
locked up in the safe."
Peter De Vries, American satirist, 1910-1993
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|DFAC held its first members-only
observing session at Heimhenge on March 10th, 2007. We
present here some photos and commentary on this historic
event. Dan Heim (below) deployed his 17" Coulter Dob
for its first light since mirror cleaning and
recollimation. Thanks to Ken Reeves for the loan of his
laser collimator. Performance was definitely improved,
but the mirror is still going to need resurfacing. Still,
views of the Double Cluster in Perseus were breathtaking.
Roger Serrato set up his Celestron 8" CAT and got some really nice views of Saturn and Venus.
Here's Scott Loucks doing his polar alignment. After the camera flash, it took him another 10 minutes to relocate Polaris. Sorry 'bout that, Scotty.
Ken Reeves eschewed his large open-truss Dob for his more portable 12" Dob, and still found some cool multi-colored double stars in Canis Major that most of us had never seen.
We had three guests that night who found us through Roger's roommate. Here are Roger Rohback and friend Bob, who drove up from north Scottsdale just get some time at the eyepiece in a relatively dark locale. And it was very dark that night, except for a couple of mercury vapor yard lights about a quarter mile north of us. Dan is working on that. Bob had a collimation problem with his Dob, but eventually got some viewing done.
Our other guest was Elisa, a retired teacher and friend of Bob. She had a small refractor that was great on those double stars.
It was a glorious night of observing until clouds moved in around 10 pm. We all packed it in by 10:30 pm. Next outing will be at a deep sky site north of here, around Stoneman Lake Road. Watch for details.
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