Newsletter of the Desert Foothills Astronomy Club
Issue #31: January 5th, 2009

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
Oct 1   6:30 pm - 8:30 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #1
Speaker: Dan Heim
Topic: Light Pollution Update
  North Valley Regional Library, 40410 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086
Oct 30   7:00 pm - 9:00 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #2
Speaker: Steve Jureweicz
Topic: Arizona Meteorites
  Cave Creek Museum, 6140 E Skyline Dr, Cave Creek, AZ 85331
Map available
Nov 8   12:00 pm - 4:00 pm   Veterans Day Parade
DFAC booth & scopes
  Anthem Community Park
Nov 20   6:30 pm - 8:30 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #3
Speaker: Gene Lucas, SAC & EVAC
Topic: 9 Metis Occultation
  North Valley Regional Library, 40410 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086
Jan 26   6:30 pm - 8:30 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #4
Speaker: George Coyne, S.J., Vatican Observatory
Topic: Intelligent Design
  North Valley Regional Library, 40410 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086
Note: This is a special Monday night meeting.
Feb 26   6:30 pm - 8:30 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #5
Speaker: Roger Serrato, DFAC
Topic: Hardware Tips and Tricks for Amateur Astronomers
  North Valley Regional Library, 40410 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086
Mar 26   6:30 pm - 8:30 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #6
Speaker: Scott Schoneman, Orbital Sciences Corporation
Topic: The Latest in Private Launch Systems at OSC
  North Valley Regional Library, 40410 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086
Apr 30   6:30 pm - 8:30 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #7
Speaker: Dr. Jeff Hester, ASU
Topic: Open Q&A
  North Valley Regional Library, 40410 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086
Please submit your astronomy questions before January 31st via
May 28   6:30 pm - 8:30 pm   DFAC Business Meeting   North Valley Regional Library, 40410 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086
(later adjouring to)
Legends Sports Bar & Grill, 3655 W Anthem Way Suite D115, Anthem, AZ 85086

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Next Meeting: Monday, January 26th, 2009
Note that this date is NOT the "last Thursday of the month." To accommodate our speaker's schedule, we will meet on the last Monday of this month.

Our first meeting of the new year will feature Rev. George Coyne, S.J. of the Vatican Observatory. His presentation is titled "The Dance of the Fertile Universe: Did God Do It?" The idea of intelligent design has been popularized of late from many directions. What are the thoughts of a scientist and astronomer who also happens to be a Jesuit? Fr. Coyne's article about The Evolution Debate in the January 2008 issue of Physics Teacher magazine provides a preview. We present it here, with permission of the author, for your download and perusal:

page-1.jpg (235k)
page-2.jpg (211k)

Also of interest is the brief abstract submitted by Fr. Coyne. You can download it below:

Coyne.doc (23 k)
Coyne.pdf (47 k)

We will be publicizing this meeting more widely than usual. Expect a larger crowd, so arrive early for good seats. This should be a very interesting meeting. Hope to see you all there.

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Last Meeting: Thursday, November 20th, 2008
There was no DFAC meeting in December. If you want to read about our November meeting (which featured Gene Lucas speaking on his recent 9 Metis occultation expedition), go to the December Quid Novi archived here.

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State of DFAC: By Dan Heim, President
Happy Holidays: I hope all your holidays are going well, that you're using this down time to refresh and renew, and are enjoying our recent turn of nicer weather. My communications with family and friends back in the Midwest only reinforce my decision to move from Green Bay to AZ back in 1978. Check out this photo from my sister's son's school.

IYA 2009: As many of you know, 2009 will be an International Year of Astronomy celebrating the 400th anniversary of Galileo's invention of the telescope. It was early in 1609 that Galileo first turned his telescope (originally designed and perfected for military purposes) on the heavens. What he saw changed our own world-view, and reinforced the Copernican idea of heliocentrism. Astronomy clubs world-wide are being encouraged by numerous stakeholders to make this a year of public outreach, so this is a great time to start thinking about a public event by DFAC. I would like to propose we do a public Astronomy Night at the New River Kiwanis Community Park. We've worked this venue before, I have the needed contacts to arrange scheduling, equipment deployment is easy since we can park our cars immediately adjacent to our scopes, and the sky there is about as good as it gets in this area with an additional line of hills blocking the light of Phoenix and Anthem. We need to decide what date would work best for DFAC members, as we'll need a large turnout to support the expected attendance. It would be good to wait for slightly warmer weather, so some time after March sounds good to me. As for day of the week, I believe Saturday would be most convenient. I'll be talking about this during the next few meetings, but start thinking about it now. If you have any feedback, let me know.

Q&A for Dr. Hester: Our April 30th, 2009 meeting will be a first of its kind for DFAC. Dr. Jeff Hester of ASU (and HST) will field open questions from members for the entire evening. This is your chance to ask a professional astronomer about anything you want to better understand. Dr. Hester is knowledgeable about all areas of astronomy, from its ancient history, to cutting edge cosmology. We are asking members to submit their questions ahead of time so that the good Doctor can bring appropriate supplementary multimedia with him on his laptop. Of course, you can also ask a question in "real time" at the meeting, but the list of prepared question will have priority. To submit a question, simply email me by January 31st, 2009, and include your question in your email. I will compile the list of questions and forward it to Dr. Hester.

Surely there's some astronomy question that's been puzzling you. I know I've got a few. Send your questions my way, and I'll stop calling your Shirley. Then hear the answers to your questions on April 30th!

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:
[Editor: As with last month's quote, this quote seemed especially appropriate, given our upcoming speaker.]

"On Earth, among millions of lineages or organisms and perhaps 50 billion speciation events, only one led to high intelligence ; this makes me believe its utter improbability."

— Ernst W. Mayr (1904-2005), Evolutionary Biologist

[Editor (again): Personally, I disagree with the assertion that only one species on this planet exhibits "high intelligence." I'm thinking here about primates, cetaceans, German Shepherds, and Cholla cactus.]

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Space Debris: Some Interesting Astronomy Links
This first link was sent to me by Peggy Biegler. It's actually an email saved as a web page, but it should open just fine in your browser. Astronauts voted on their Top 10 HST photos (no doubt astronomers would have voted differently) and their results were tallied and displayed. Check out some truly beautiful HST images here.

The second link was via the AZ-Observers list server, and forwarded by Tom Polakis of SAC. If you have a set of those funky red/blue 3D glasses, you have to check out these stereoscopic images of the Moon. They were made by an amateur astronomer in Russia. I didn't translate his website, and I don't read Russian, so I can't tell you his name. But the images were taken at opposite libration points under similar lighting (i.e., "phase") conditions, and that takes considerable time and precise timing. They are some of the best red/blue 3D images I've seen. If you don't have a set of red/blue 3D glasses, you can use red and blue eyepiece filters. I'm not sure which Wratten numbers will work best, so feel free to experiment. Just remember that the red filter goes over the left eye, blue over the right. Enjoy them here:

Finally, even though this has little to do with astronomy, it provides some important tips about "phishing" that all users of internet/email/chat should know. And I know that applies to all our members (save for George Kantarges). If you don't know what "phishing" is, all the more reason to read this. Phishing is one of the fastest growing online scams, and since it's based more on "social engineering" than technology, your email filters and browser security may not protect you. The 6-page article is copied from the current issue of Scientific American. You can download it with the link below:

phishing.pdf (1.113 Mb)

If you don't want to do the download, or don't have time to read this 6-page article (even though you should make the time), at least test your anti-phishing savvy in this online game called AntiPhishing Phil. You can play the game and test your skills at the link below. Good luck, and play safe!

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