Newsletter of the Desert Foothills Astronomy Club
Issue #14: June 6th, 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 for 2007-2008:
Date   Time   Event   Location
Jul 21   4:00 pm - ?   DFAC Summer Social   Walker Ranch in Cave Creek.
Sep 26   7:00 pm - 9:00 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #1   Boulder Creek High School, 40404 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086

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State of DFAC: By Dan Heim, President
  • Year One Comes to a Close: For our first year in existence, I'm quite satisfied with the way things went. We had some great speakers, did three Astronomy Night events (all of which raised funds for our treasury), had our own observing event here at Heimhenge, established Quid Novi as the first (to my knowledge) all electronic newsletter for an Arizona astronomy club, designed our publicity handouts and business cards, and ratified our Constitution. My thanks to all members for making DFAC possible. I'm optimistic about the future for our organization, and look forward to a great next season.
  • Officer Positions: Our Constitution defines the duties and responsibilities of DFAC officers. Now that the Constitution is ratified, take a look at it and see what each position involves. Roger and I were unanimously elected to continue in our positions next year, and we thank you all for the vote of confidence. I'm also acting as Editor and Webmaster, and the need to eventually distribute these duties to others should be obvious. It's just not healthy for a club to place all this power in the hands of one person. The need for a VP was made clear to me as I dealt with a family medical emergency and nearly missed two meetings. This is still an unfilled position, so if you want to help out, and contribute to the stability and continuity of DFAC, read the VP job description (as well as the others) and think about it. And don't forget that, as an officer, you'll get an unlimited supply of really cool, glossy, DFAC business cards. See mine here. Our thanks to Jay Chatzkel for picking up half the VP's duties voluntarily — he'll be acting as our media czar, sending notices of upcoming events to area papers, something I did for the first half of this last season but dropped due to other obligations. Hopefully, better media contact will create higher attendance at our meetings and attract new members.
  • Membership: We started this club over a year ago with 20 paying members. That is the critical number needed to meet all our costs via dues alone, as dues were set based on that number. With 10 members, and a few income generating Astronomy Night events, we can also meet our costs without raising dues. As of today, 10 members are renewed for next year, and 2 new members have been added. I have yet to contact non-renewers and do a little "arm twisting," but hope to bring back a few of them. Considering that SAC spent its first three years with 6 members helps put this in perspective, but the need for increasing our membership is clear. We will be focusing our efforts in that direction over the summer. You can help. If you know anyone with an interest in astronomy, and they're not currently a member of any astronomy club, suggest DFAC and invite them to a meeting or event. Ron Walker did just that, and we'd like to welcome his friend Bob Doerzbacher as our (second) newest member. I'd also like to welcome Lloyd Horton as our newest member ... I received his membership application today. I know Lloyd from the early days of PAS, and he had expressed interest in DFAC when we first started, but then we lost track of him. Nice to have him back on the team.
  • Summer Social: DFAC doesn't meet over the summer, but we decided a purely social event would be a great way to stay in touch. Starting a new tradition, we will hold our first annual DFAC Summer Social on Saturday, July 21st, 4:00 pm till whenever. The event will be held at Ron Walker's digs in Cave Creek. Ron will be providing food and drink, and I'm bringing desert, so all you need to bring is yourself. Hamburgers, bratwurst, and hot dogs are on the menu for 5-6 pm, followed by a double feature in his massive home theater. Movies will be decided by vote from several in his collection, but they'll all have a science fiction theme. If you can't stay late for the second feature, no problems. Thanks to Ron for his generosity. Please RSVP to assist him in his planning. See you all there!
  • Galactic Gavel: Our Galactic Gavel project is nearly complete. The Gavel itself is done, the sounding block is done, and all we need now is a proper "box" of some sort to store and transport it in. We used that Campo del Cielo meteorite donated by Bob Holmes as the head of a gavel. It drilled and tapped fairly easily compared to that Canyon Diablo meteorite I used for the Brophy Astronomy Club's Galactic Gavel. It represents the "authority of the President" and will be used to start and end future DFAC meetings. In fact, it was used for the first time at our May business meeting (see Last Meeting below). The gavel will be passed on from President to President as a DFAC tradition. I've added a new section to the History page detailing its genesis and construction (including photos).
  • Blue Hills Observatory: Saturday, May 12th, up in Dewey (near Prescott) Stan Gorodenski hosted his annual Astronomy Pot Luck. He extended an invitation to DFAC members, and Roger Serrato and Jay Chatzkel accompanied me to this event. There were 20 people (mostly SAC) in attendance, and the usual array of fine instruments. Stan had his new Meade 16" LX200R installed and operational, as promised, and we were all treated to some outstanding views of Saturn and several deepsky objects. As always, the food and discussion before nightfall was also outstanding. Thanks, Stan, for the invite. See you again next year.
  • Thanks for reading Quid Novi. You know where to send your feedback. Clear skies!

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Last Meeting: Wednesday, May 30th, 2007
Provisional (now elected) President Dan Heim opened our first official business meeting with the Galactic Gavel, and presented a recap of the year's events.

Here's a list of the agenda items covered at this meeting ...

  • Election of Officers: Dan Heim was elected President for 2007-2008, and Roger Serrato was elected Treasurer for 2007-2008. We will continue with just these two Officer positions filled, but emphasize the need for a Vice President, Editor, and Webmaster. Jay Chatzkel will perform part of the VP duties, notifying local media of DFAC meetings and events. Dan Heim will continue as provisional Editor and Webmaster.
  • Treasurer's Report: Roger Serrato delivered his "state of the treasury" address, providing copies of the budget to all in attendance. Based on the number of renewing members, and the current treasury balance, it was decided that dues can remain at $25. It was also noted that the need to do Astronomy Night events for fund-raising remains. If we do three each year, we can supplement our dues income and easily cover our operating expenses. We will also continue our policy of providing in-town speakers with a $20 honorarium, and out-of-town speakers with $50.
  • Membership Drive: The need to grow our membership was recognized by all. Several strategies were suggested. Dan Heim provided a map showing the meeting locations of other astronomy clubs in the valley, and it was clear that DFAC has unique coverage of the north Valley. Specifically, all points north of Happy Valley Road fall into our domain. Media coverage in this area will be handled by Jay Chatzkel (thanks Jay!), and that should help get the word out. Dan Heim will also run another Sky Lights column in the Desert Advocate announcing our presence and soliciting new members. Beyond that, only time will tell. The north Valley area is growing rapidly, and should be able to support DFAC indefinitely.
  • Constitution: Dan Heim provided members a hardcopy of our provisional document. As it was modeled on the PAS constitution, the document was already in reasonably good form. There was some discussion about a "student membership" category, but we decided to leave that out and accept the document with a few minor changes in wording. Following a motion and second from the floor, the DFAC Constitution was unanimously ratified by the 12 members in attendance.
  • Summer Social: It was suggested that, since DFAC doesn't meet over the summer, we hold an annual Summer Social some time in July. As a tradition, and as a way for members to stay in touch, the idea was greeted with much enthusiasm by members. Ron Walker volunteered his home as the venue, and promised good sci-fi entertainment in his big-screen home theater. The date decided on was Saturday, July 21st. You can read more details above in the State of DFAC section.

The doors closed around 8:00 pm, after which we adjourned to Legends Sports Bar in Anthem for some R&R. Dan Heim bought the first round, as promised. Good food and conversation was enjoyed by all, proving once again that we are a group of friends as well as amateur astronomers. The post-meeting event adjourned around 9:30 pm.

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Next Meeting: Wednesday, September 26th, 2007
DFAC does not meet during the Summer, but will return for our 2007-2008 Lecture Series in the Fall starting on Wednesday, September 26th. Over the Summer we'll be lining up speakers for next season. We already have commitments (but not dates) from the following people:
  • Dr. Jeff Hester of ASU (quantum cosmology)
  • Stan Gorodenski of Blue Hills Observatory (building your own observatory: lessons learned)
  • Tom Polakis of SAC (making the transition from film to digital astrophotography)
  • Scott Loucks of DFAC (asteroids and amateur astrometry: reprise)
  • Gene Lucas of SAC (topic yet to be determined)

If you have an idea for a speaker or topic you'd like to hear, let us know. There's room for two more speakers in our schedule. We want our Lecture Series to be of the greatest possible benefit to members, so your feedback is solicited.

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Quote of the Month:
"With every passing hour our solar system comes forty-three thousand miles closer to globular cluster M13 in the constellation Hercules, and still there are some misfits who continue to insist that there is no such thing as progress."

— Ransom K. Ferm (a character from The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut)

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Space Debris:
There was this contest a couple years ago. Write a science fiction "short short story" in 100 words or less. The prize was $100. Dan Heim sent in his attempt, but didn't win. He saved his entry, nonetheless, and shares it here with you. There was no title required, but in retrospect, he would call it ...

Eve of Destruction

Selene’s telescope was barely visible in the dim light. Each bright star cast its separate shadow. The Moon looked somehow different tonight.

Carl stepped up and gazed into the eyepiece. He stared in silence for what seemed like hours. Finally he spoke.

“There’s so many craters ... it’s hard to imagine it like it was.” “Yeah,” she added, “thousands of impacts were reported.” Carl sighed, “We were really, really lucky. That asteroid storm came from behind us, right out of Gemini. Here on Lunar Nearside we were shielded from the worst of it.”

“Too bad about the Earth though,” thought Selene.

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