Newsletter of the Desert Foothills Astronomy Club
Issue #35: May 4th, 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 12   6:00 pm - 8:00 pm   Astronomy Night
Coincides with the DAMS Science Fair
  Desert Arroyo Middle School, 33401 N. 56th St., Scottsdale, AZ 85331
This event is fully staffed. Thank you.
This event was cancelled due to poor weather.
Feb 26   6:30 pm - 8:30 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #5
Speaker: Roger Serrato, DFAC
Topic: Amateur Astronomy 101 - Tips and Tricks for Beginners
  North Valley Regional Library, 40410 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086
Mar 2   7:00 pm - 9:00 pm   Astronomy Night
Anthem Cub Scout Den
Setup at 6:30 pm
This event is now fully staffed.
Mar 26   6:30 pm - 8:30 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #6
Speaker: Dan Heim & Roger Serrato of DFAC
Topic: Planning session for April 4th public event
  North Valley Regional Library, 40410 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086
Our original speaker cancelled, and will be rescheduled for next season.
Apr 4   7:00 pm - 9:00 pm   100 Hours of Astronomy for IYA 2009, (public observing)
Setup 6-7 pm
Sunset 6:48 pm
  New River Kiwanis Community Park, New River, AZ
Map available
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
Our original speaker cancelled, and will be rescheduled for next season.
May 26   6:30 pm - 8:30 pm   DFAC Business Meeting   North Valley Regional Library, 40410 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086
Note this is a Tuesday night, changed from our original date.
(later adjouring to)
Legends Sports Bar & Grill, 3655 W Anthem Way Suite D115, Anthem, AZ 85086

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Next Meeting: Tuesday, May 26th, 2009
Our next meeting is our annual Business Meeting. Note that it has been moved from the original Thursday, May 28th date to Tuesday, May 26th. We have several items on the agenda, including constitutional changes to the job descriptions of the officers, revision of our public outreach commitment, and the extension of our meeting schedule through the Summer. Read more about each in State of DFAC below. As always, our Business Meeting will adjourn to Legends for a proper "closing" to the season. We hope to see you there.

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Last Meeting: Thursday, April 30th, 2009
Our original speaker for this evening, Dr. Jeff Hester of ASU, had to cancel at the last minute. We'll be rescheduling him for next season. We received an email from him on Monday, April 27th, with his regrets for an unavoidable scheduling conflict. After some discussion between the DFAC officers, it was decided that, at this late notice, the best thing we could do was cancel the meeting and save $10 on the NVRL room rental.

However, since DFAC members already had that night reserved in their schedules, we decided to take advantage of that time slot and move the meeting to Legends Sports Bar & Grill, and just turn it into a social event (something we don't do enough of). Listening to a speaker and learning about our hobby is fine, but so is just chatting about our hobby, and whatever else comes up. We talked about astrophotography, the new Star Trek movie being released this week, next season's speaker schedule, our Summer Social, and the need for more time to socialize. We also watched the Bulls beat the Celtics in a triple-overtime thriller, an exciting finish regardless of your favored team.

In attendance were (in order of appearance) Dan Heim, Jim Renn, Scott Loucks, and Ron Walker. We'd hoped for a larger turnout (we always do), but the food, drink, entertainment, and conversation, were outstanding nonetheless. We resolved (unofficially) that DFAC needs to do more of this.

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State of DFAC: By Dan Heim, President
Change of Business Meeting Date: Last month we proposed that our Business Meeting be moved from Thursday, May 28th to Tuesday, May 26th. Since there was no feedback to the contrary from members, we have now made that change official. See our revised calendar at the top of this page.

Business Meeting: As I've said in the past, with only around 20 members, it's hard to draw people into serving as club officers. I understand it's a matter of time, ability, and (hopefully not so much) motivation. Our existing club officers have confirmed to me that they will be happy to continue in their present positions: President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Media Liaison. Of course, any member has the right to run against them for office, but a few changes to the existing structure would be beneficial. Thus, this is your formal notice of items to be voted on at the May meeting. If you are not able to attend, and still want to cast your vote or provide input, you may do so by phone, email, or postal mail to me at any time prior to that meeting.

  • First, I'd like to create a new club Officer position that Scott Loucks has already assumed responsibility for: Newsgroup Moderator. Our newsgroup, DFAC-QN, at currently has only 9 registered members, not all of whom are routinely active. Still, this is yet another venue for improving our visibility and attracting new members. You'll need to be registered with Yahoo (an easy task) to join the newsgroup. It's also a venue for the type of informal discussion that we seldom have time for at meetings or in Quid Novi. If you haven't already joined, please consider it. Either way, I'd like to make that Newsgroup Moderator position formal, include it in our constitution, recognize Scott for his efforts (Thanks Scott!), and print him up a set of those nifty DFAC business cards.
  • Second, although our Constitution specifies this as the President's duty, I would like to delegate the job of contacting and scheduling speakers. In some astronomy clubs, scheduling speakers is the President's duty. In others, it is the VP or some other dedicated position. Given that I'm already the President, Editor, and Webmaster (a situation unlikely to change in the foreseeable future), I could really use some assistance here. I have spoken to Jim Renn, DFAC VP, and he has graciously agreed to accept this duty as part of his job. As with the preceding item, we will need to vote on this change of job description as a constitutional revision. You can see the proposed constitutional revisions (in bold red) in either of the documents below:

    constitution.doc (27k)
    constitution.pdf (11k)
  • Our Summer Social will again be hosted by member Ron Walker. The date for this event will be finalized at our May meeting, but it's always been on a Saturday around mid-summer (July). Our Lecture Series runs from September through May, and we normally schedule no other official events from June through August, but ...
  • Although not a part of the "official" activities of DFAC, some members have suggested that we expand our monthly meetings into the summer. We already do our Summer Social in July, courtesy of Ron Walker. We would like to propose doing something similar in June and August. These would be social events, with no speakers or formal presentations. Jim Renn and I have volunteered our homes for these additional two events (at least for 2009). Dates and details have yet to be worked out, but that will happen at our Business Meeting.
  • One final item up for discussion is our policy and commitment to doing public events. Turns out we've been getting a rather high number of requests, and we hate to say "no," but we also hate to tap the same volunteers over and over again for fear of burning out their enthusiasm. This is not meant to pressure non-volunteers, but to generate discussion about what our level of commitment to public events can realistically support. The Services page on our website advertises our availability, but places no limits. We may need to state "3 per year" or something to that effect. It would be good to do at least one "major" public event each year. Maybe we should only do 1-2 "major" events, and lose the small stuff? The daytime event at the Anthem Veterans Day Parade is great for generating free publicity, as would be a night event at NRKCP (during warmer weather than our recent event). Point is, we need to have some discussion about this, since the situation as it now stands is untenable.

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:
"The meek shall inherit the Earth. And the rest of us will go to the stars."

— Omni Magazine (ca. 1985)

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Space Debris: Occultation of Venus by the Moon
I hope you all caught that glorious occultation back on April 22nd. From our location, ingress was before sunrise, but egress was after. I watched it from here at Heimhenge, and the 10x80 binocular view was awesome. The link below will take you to the website of Tom Polakis (past and future DFAC speaker), where he has posted more of his outstanding work covering this event. There are both stills and time-lapse animations. Check them out at:

Tom says he used a 70-200mm lens with a Canon 20D, and then attached the 20D to a TV101 refractor.  The webcam was in the 10" at prime focus. For the time-lapse video, the entire ingress took roughly 4800 frames, which would correspond to 80 seconds at 60 fps.

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