Newsletter of the Desert Foothills Astronomy Club
Issue #23: April 1st, 2008


About Quid Novi

Past Issues

DFAC Events

Next Meeting

Last Meeting

State of DFAC

Quote of the Month

Space Debris

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


DFAC Events for 2008-2009:
Date   Time   Event   Location
Jan 30   7:00 pm - 9:00 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #4
Speaker: Tom Polakis of SAC
Topic: The Transition from Film to Digital
  Boulder Creek High School, 40404 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086
Feb 27   7:00 pm - 9:00 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #5
Speaker: Jeff Hester of ASU
Topic: Quantum Physics & Cosmology
  Boulder Creek High School, 40404 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086
Mar 9   6:00 pm - 8:00 pm   Astronomy Night (DFAC fundraiser)   JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort (north of Loop 101 on Tatum)
Mar 26   7:00 pm - 9:00 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #6
Speaker: JD Maddy of AVV
Topic: A Personal Tour of Mauna Kea
  Boulder Creek High School, 40404 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086
April 12   7:00 - ? pm   DFAC + BCHSAC Astronomy Night   Heimhenge
Apr 30   7:00 pm - 9:00 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #7
Speaker: Scott Loucks of DFAC
Topic: Minor Planet Astrometry
  Boulder Creek High School, 40404 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086
May 28   7:00 pm - 9:00 pm   DFAC Business Meeting   Boulder Creek High School, 40404 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086
Legends Sports Bar & Grill, 3655 W Anthem Way Suite D115, Anthem, AZ 85086

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Next Meeting: Wednesday, April 30th, 2008
Our April meeting will feature DFAC member Scott Loucks, who will reprise his lecture on astrometry from last year. Scott does most of his work with minor planets, and has contributed formal results to the IAU Minor Planet Center at Harvard (see: http://www.cfa.harvard.edu/iau/mpc.html). He'll share his expertise, explain what is involved in actually doing astrometry, and show us some animations of those elusive points of light. We hope to see you all there.

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Last Meeting: Wednesday, March 26th, 2008
Dan Heim opened the meeting with about 10 minutes of club business, discussing our successful fundraiser at JW Marriot Desert Resort, and our upcoming "rent payment" of a private Astronomy Night for the BCHS Astronomy Club on April 12th at Heimhenge. Read more details in our State of DFAC section below.

Our speaker for the evening was JD Maddy, President of the Astronomers of Verde Valley (see: http://www.astroverde.org/). JD spent one of his vacations touring the observatories at Mauna Kea, and shared photos and stories of his adventure. In addition to photos of the observatories, he also shared other Big Island sights, including volcanoes, flora, and the enigmatic Nene bird (you had to be there). There's much to see and do on Hawaii related to astronomy, and JD cautioned that careful planning is essential to fit it all in. JD proved to us that he's as adept at nature photography as he is at astrophotography. By the time his presentation was over, we all felt like we'd been there on the Big Island with him.

JD also brought along some prints he had done of his astrophotography. We always enjoy "show and tell" features, and once the room lights were back on, he passed several prints around for the edification and enjoyment of our members. After that, we were still ahead of schedule, so JD fired up a cool CD planetarium program available with each issue of a British astronomy magazine called Sky At Night (www.skyatnightmagazine.com). The magazine is not generally available in the States, but you can occasionally find it at finer bookstores. JD says he got his copy at Barnes & Noble. If you're looking for an alternative, or supplement, to S&T, give this mag a look.

Turnout was good this meeting, with 12 members in attendance. Speaker JD Maddy and his wife Karen are seen here seated at the center table. Karen is actively involved in their club (AVV), and often accompanies him to astronomy events and speaking engagements. Thanks again to JD for an outstanding presentation!

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State of DFAC: By Dan Heim, President
  • Desert Ridge Resort Event: On Sunday, March 9th, DFAC did a 2-hour Astronomy Night for a convention of marketing professionals at JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort. Thanks to: Roger Serrato, Scott Loucks, Raul Espinoza, and Ron Walker (backup) for being there. We raised $250 for our treasury! The highlights of the evening were M42, Saturn, and the Moon. This event was coordinated by Laura LeRoy of Zohar Productions, and there's a good chance this could turn into a continuing relationship that feeds our treasury each year. Of course, we need to balance outreach activities with income opportunities, but this is a good match. We decided early on that about three Astronomy Nights a year was all DFAC wanted to commit to, so we need to select the best opportunities. And Zohar looks like it will be able to provide those opportunities.
  • BCHSAC: I've been in contact with Kathy Hill, Moderator of the new Boulder Creek High School Astronomy Club, regarding a private Astronomy Night for her students. This event is now set for Saturday, April 12th, sunset (7:00 pm) to whenever, at Heimhenge, with equipment setup from 6-7 pm. This will fulfill DFAC's obligation to do an on-campus event in exchange for our use of BCHS facilities for our monthly meetings. If you can reserve that night in your plans, it would be good to have at least 4 scopes up here. We have 2 for sure (mine and Roger's), and a tentative 3rd with Ron Walker. We could really use one more. Please let me know if you can help out on this. Collaboration between DFAC and BCHSAC will be a great opportunity for outreach. Thanks.
  • DFAC Parade Float: Member Scott Loucks has suggested that we could improve our visibility by entering a float in the annual Veterans' Day Parade at Anthem (next year). We've had some discussion about this, and several of our members feel it's a good idea. Scott can score the trailer, but we're undecided about just what should be on it. Transporting a deployed telescope would not be optically wise, but Roger suggested a dome tent with a sonotube sticking out to simulate an observatory, with the usual accompanying DFAC ID signs. We could also setup a table at the park where the parade ends, where more DFAC info would be available, along with my Takahashi and hydrogen alpha filter for solar viewing. Sounds like a plan to me. It would only cost us $25 to enter a float, and Jim Renn (who is the announcer for this parade) could grease the wheels and help us with the details. If you have any ideas for addition to the float (or a better idea than a dome tent and sonotube), let us know. This is all still in the early planning stages.
  • LPR Strategy for DFAC: Back at our October meeting I started distributing printed copies of the ARS and MCZO regulations on lighting. All DAFC members should be familiar with these documents. I'll continue to distribute copies until all members have them. Please read them carefully. I understand that reading legal documents is about as much fun as going to the dentist, but they aren't that long or difficult, and this is stuff we need to know as a group. We need to generate internal discussion about our long-term strategy for fighting light pollution. I want DFAC to be effective, but we must also be pragmatic. It's time to start thinking about how we can have the greatest impact against light pollution. Your input is sincerely solicited.
  • An Evening at High Desert Park: Due to a lack of interest, this event has been cancelled. I'd still like to do a night with PAS up there one of these days, as it's a regular venue for them. Perhaps this summer? You can see the dates for planned PAS events at HDP at: www.pasaz.org/events.html. I'll bring this up again at our May business meeting and see if there's more interest.
  • Sky Lights Still on Sabbatical: As some of you may know, Sky Lights, my weekly column on astronomy and weather, has not been published since last November. The Desert Advocate newspaper has had significant problems, and at this point I've written them off. I had some interest expressed by 12 other AZ newspapers, but none of that has turned into new subscriptions. At this point, I'm seriously considering all-electronic self-publication on the internet (like a blog). But I'm still in negotiation with Jason Stone, Editor of the Foothills Focus (one of the two remaining north valley newspapers). He has expressed an interest in the column, said he really likes it, and is trying to find some space for it. You may see Sky Lights back in print soon. Wish me luck.
  • Thanks for reading Quid Novi. If you have feedback, you know where to reach me. Until next we meet, clear skies!

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Quote of the Month:
"Two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying."

— Arthur C. Clarke

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Space Debris:
Most of you are by now aware of the March 18th passing of Sir Arthur C. Clarke. For 91 years we were graced to share this planet with a true visionary. Clarke wrote science fact as well as science fiction, influencing a generation (or two), myself included. My personal interest in science was the result of several factors, not the least of which were stories by Clarke, Wells, Verne, and other classic writers. Sir Arthur, you will be missed. Thanks for the dreams. You can visit his Foundation at: http://www.clarkefoundation.org/,where the dream lives on.

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