Newsletter of the Desert Foothills Astronomy Club
Issue #16: September 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 for 2007-2008:
Date   Time   Event   Location
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 Two on Deck: After a great first year, I'm looking forward to continued success for DFAC. We have plans for increasing meeting attendance and membership, and it looks like we'll finally realize a student astronomy club at BCHS. New faculty member Kathleen Hill has volunteered to be the club moderator, and we'll hopefully start to see some students attending our meetings. We'll be doing some more Astronomy Night events (all of which raise funds for our treasury), and hopefully have our first deep-sky outing at a location up north yet to be determined. On the topic of increasing membership, I ran another Sky Lights column in the August 29th edition of The Desert Advocate advertising our (and other) local astronomy clubs. With the continued growth of the north Valley area, I fully expect we'll see continued growth in our membership. We just need to get the word out, and Jay Chatzkel will be assisting on that front. My thanks to all members for making DFAC possible. I'm optimistic about the future of our organization, and look forward to a great second season!
  • New Astrophotos: I've added two new pages to the Astrophotos on our website. Both taken over the Summer, they include the August lunar eclipse and a spectacular double rainbow. Check them out! And if you have any images you're particularly proud of, send them to me with documentation and comments and I'll add them to our fine collection.
  • Some Bad News: I began the search for this season's speakers a few months ago, and in July started the process locking in dates. I had some difficulty reaching Dr. Jeff Hester, who I wanted to have first choice of dates. He confirmed last week for our February lecture. Stan Gorodenski, of Blue Hills Observatory, was going to speak to us about constructing personal observatories, but he cancelled the day after Hester confirmed. Then I again tried to secure a lecture with Dr. David Burstein, who had offered to do so at the last PAS meeting I attended. You may recall that health problems forced a cancellation of his lecture last season. Unfortunately, I regret to inform you that his health problems are now terminal, and he is unavailable. Dr. Burstein, as some of you may know, is one of the "Seven Samurai" responsible for the discovery of The Great Attractor, a wall of galaxies in the Centaurus Supercluster. I'd like to take this opportunity to offer our sympathy to Dr. Burstein and his family, and thank him for sharing his wealth of astronomical knowledge with local amateur astronomers over many years. You can read more about David's life and work on his ASU web page at:
  • Opening Lecture: While continuing the speaker lineup process, I discussed the possibility of a change in our program with co-founder Roger Serrato. My idea was to use the first lecture of each season to update members on the issue of light pollution. This would be my annual contribution to the DFAC Lecture Series. After all, this was one of the reasons DFAC formed, and I have plenty to report since last season. This issue won't go away and, as attendance at our meetings grows, it provides a public forum to help get the word out. Furthermore, it gives us an opportunity to "shake down" our meeting facility before any guest speakers arrive ... you never know what happens to a school room over the Summer. Finally, it provides a longer window for speaker scheduling given how many speakers are unavailable over the Summer. And so we decided. And thus it shall be ... the first lecture of each season will be "light pollution update" by yours truly.
  • Upcoming Speakers: I am still in the process of locking-in dates for this season's speakers. We need to find one additional speaker. If you have any suggestions, let me know. In the meantime, here's our now-abbreviated list:

               Dan Heim of DFAC on light pollution (September)
               Kathleen Hill of BCHS on her PSIP Phoenix Mars Mission student project (November)
               Jeff Hester of ASU on quantum cosmology (February)
               Tom Polakis of SAC on transitioning from film to digital photography
               Scott Loucks of DFAC on minor planet astrometry and photometry
               Gene Lucas of SAC on (topic to be determined)

  • Thanks for reading Quid Novi. You know where to send your feedback. Until we meet again, clear skies!

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Last Meeting: Saturday, July 21st, 2007
Our first annual DFAC Summer Social was held at the home of member Ron Walker in Cave Creek. Ron graciously provided a fine assortment of food and drink for our members. We reported on this event in a special Quid Novi Summer Supplement. There's lots of great photos included, so if you missed it, check it out at:

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Next Meeting: Wednesday, September 26th, 2007
Our 2007-2008 DFAC Lecture Series kicks off on Wednesday, September 26th. President Dan Heim will speak on the topic of light pollution. This is how we started least season's Lecture Series, and we decided to make it an annual tradition. There's much new to report since last year, so be there and learn what's been happening in the north valley and evirons.

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Quote of the Month:
"What grander idea can the mind of man form to itself than a prodigious, glorious and firy globe hanging in the midst of an infinite and boundless space surrounded with bodies of whom our earth is scarcely any thing in comparison, moving their rounds about its body and held tight to their respective orbits by the attractive force inherent to it while they are suspended in the same space by the Creator's almighty arm! And then let us cast our eyes up to the spangled canoply of heaven, where innumerable luminaries at such an immense distance from us cover the face of the skies. All suns as great as that which illumines us, surrounded with earths perhaps no way inferior to the ball which we inhabit and no part of the amazing whole unfilled! System running into system, and worlds bordering on worlds! Sun, earth, moon, stars be ye made, and they were made! "

— Edmund Burke at age 15, praising the "noble science" of astronomy

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Space Debris:
NASA's New Methane Engine:

NASA contractors Alliant Techsystems and XCOR Aerospace are developing a rocket engine powered by liquid methane. Earlier this year the companies conducted a series of successful test firings of their 7,500 pound-thrust LOX/methane engine (pictured, video). Such technology could one day supplant the current LOX/liquid-hydrogen systems common since the start of the space age. You can vew a 3.3M video of the test firing here: (requires Windows Media Player).

Or, read more about this exciting new technology at:

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