Newsletter of the Desert Foothills Astronomy Club
Issue #37: July 20th, 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 2009-2010:
Date   Time   Event   Location
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
  Heimhenge
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
here.
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
Jun 20   6:00 pm - 9:00 pm   June DFAC Social   The Renn Hacienda.
All food and drink will be provided by our gracious host.
Please RSVP by June 17th.
Jul 18   1 pm - ?   July DFAC Social   Walker Ranch.
All food and drink will be provided by our gracious host, not to mention a sci-fi double feature!
Please RSVP by July 11th.
Aug 22   6:00 pm - 10:00 pm   August DFAC Social   Heimhenge in New River
All food and drink will be provided by our gracious host.
Dan will premiere a new billiards game of his own design: Asteroids. No limit on the number of players.
Bring your cue, or use one of several available in the Heimhenge Game Room.
He'll also have his 5" Takashi set up for views of Saturn, Mercury, and the Crescent Moon,
all of which will be aligned low in the west, elevated 12 at sunset (7 pm).
Be there before 7 pm to catch your view of this celestial trio.
Please RSVP by August 15th.
Sep 9   6:30 pm - 8:30 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #1
Speaker: Dan Heim, DFAC
Topic: Light Pollution Update
  North Valley Regional Library, 40410 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086
Note that our meetings will now be held on the second Wednesday of the month.
Oct 14   6:30 pm - 8:30 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #2
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
Nov 11   6:30 pm - 8:30 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #3
Speaker: Tom Polakis,
Topic: Lunar and Planetary Imaging
  North Valley Regional Library, 40410 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086
We are still waiting for confirmation from Tom regarding the change of date.

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Next Meeting: Wednesday, September 9th, 2009
Our speaker will be DFAC President Dan Heim, who will provide the latest news on light pollution in the north Valley (and other places), as well as information on the latest developments in environmentally friendly lighting. We hope to see you there to kick off our 2009-2010 Lecture Series.

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Last Meeting: Saturday, July 18th, 2009
Our last official meeting was the May 26th Business Meeting, where we made several changes to the Constitution and discussed changes to our outreach policies. If you missed it, and want to get caught up, you can view a copy of the relevant newsletter here: 06-01-2009.html.

That said, our last "unofficial" meeting was the annual DFAC Summer Social at Walker Ranch in Cave Creek. This tradition is on its 3rd year now, and Ron & Family always provide a great time, good food, and fantastic movie. Here's a few pics we shot at the event ...

Both members and spouses were in attendance. Here you can see the generous spread of veggies and shrimp and cookies.

They had two separate tables set up, and even with that, a few ate standing, mingling in the kitchen. Yes, that is Guinness Ale in its proprietary pressurized bottle.

Another shot, attempting to get both tables in the same field of view. Tough to do. It was a good turnout, and so a bit crowded.

Our host (with brat on plate), Ron Walker, posing with family and friend. The brats were outstanding, as was the potato salad.

After lunch we retired to Ron's home theater, and settled in for a bonus demo of his new HD Blue-Ray capable system (1080 progressive). Plus, he had a new 20-foot screen, now continuous and seamless. The demo was the Blue-Ray version of Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. It blew us away. As Ron remarked, at this level of resolution, digital is now equivalent to 35 mm film. And the CGI (computer generated imagery) is so advanced that, even to a trained eye, it's hard to tell the real from the virtual.

For this evening, Ron had prepared a double feature. First, the original 1951 version of The Day the Earth Stood Still, starring Michael Rennie. Second, the 2008 remake starring Keanu Reeves. Of course, we had an intermission between the two to refill drinks and grab more snacks. The two movies are similar in plot, though vastly different in special effects (of course). The one intriguing difference is in the "message" Klaatu brings to Earth. In the original it is: You have nukes, you are developing space flight, you have a history of aggression, therefore, I am here to stop you, one way or another. In the remake, that message has changed to: You live on a rare, life-supporting planet, your species is ruining it, therefore, your species must be eradicated. The environmental slant is obvious, but also more ominous.

Thanks to Ron & Family for yet another fantastic Social. We appreciate his generosity and hospitality, not to mention the beer and brats.

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State of DFAC: By Dan Heim, President
Item 1: After consultation with the members, email feedback, and some final input at the Summer Social, we have decided to change our meeting day to "second Wednesday of the month." The primary motivation for the change was to avoid conflicts with other events, which seem to be preferentially scheduled near the beginning or end of the month. Our meeting location remains the same: North Valley Regional Library in Anthem, Classroom #1 or Classroom #2 (room yet to be determined). Meeting times remain the same.

Item 2: Which brings up an interesting possibility ... a December meeting would now be possible without getting too close to the holidays. I hereby solicit input from the members on that question. Should we add a December meeting to our Lecture Series?

Item 3: Some members have been asking why we don't do more "DFAC only" observing sessions. There's a few reasons this has been the case. First, there is no impediment to doing private club observing sessions. It's still possible to do astronomy here in the North Valley. It's not a "dark sky" site by a long shot, but I can still see the Milky Way from here at Heimhenge. And there are plenty of similarly dark sites scattered around the area, some at DFAC member residences. I've hosted two sessions here since DFAC was formed. It's the prerogative of any member to do the same.

And now I really can see the Milky Way. Last issue I told you about my impending cataract surgery. Although I'll be on daily eye drops for a few weeks yet, I'm pleased to report that the procedure went well. A few days after my second eye was done, I woke at 3 am and decided to take a walk out on the deck. The Summer Milky Way was straight overhead, and I was able to see it like I haven't in many years. Awesome. Once the weather cools down, we need to do a "members only" event. Time to start thinking about that. Since I retired from that part-time teaching job, September is just another month to me, and that's when the evenings start to get really nice. So let's plan something for September then. If somebody else really wants it, no prob. But for the default plan, let's do it here at Heimhenge. We have our meeting at NVRL on the 9th, so I propose either Saturday Sep 19 or 26. I'll take input if you got it, otherwise I'll make my own call in a couple weeks.

Dues are Due: This is another reminder that your DFAC dues are due. You can send your check to Roger Serrato at: PO Box 71458, Phoenix, AZ 85050. Or you can save a stamp a bring it to the August DFAC Social at Heimhenge. You do not need to fill out the Membership Application Form unless your contact information has changed. If you need one, get it here. Our dues for next season remain at $25 (with electronic delivery of Quid Novi) and $30 (with postal delivery). For those members we seldom see, but who keep renewing nonetheless, we say thank you for your continued support. DFAC fights light pollution in the North Valley on behalf of all sky lovers.

Summer Socials: Yes, it's plural now. The June event at Jim & Jean Renn's was very nice. You can read of the July event at Walker Ranch above. The August event, at Heimhenge, is yet to come. Details are in the DFAC Events section at the top of this page. Although Walker Ranch event in July will continue as it has in the past, the June and August events will be up for grabs each year, and the "theme" of the event at the host's discretion. Not like there has to be a "theme" beyond just getting together socially with some good people who share your passion for astronomy, which was really the whole point of the additional socials.

So let's get those RSVPs in for the Heimhenge Summer Social (affirmatives only). You can email me, or call 623-465-7307 by August 15th. Hope to see you there. No need to bring anything. We've got it all covered.

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:
"Chances are, when we meet intelligent life forms in outer space, they're going to be descended from predators."

— Michio Kaku

[Ed: Seemed appropriate after watching the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. Those nanobots were scary technology!]

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Space Debris: New Website on Links Page + Lunar Footprints
I doubt anyone noticed, and I didn't announce the change with any fanfare, but a few weeks ago I received an email from Ryan Owens, at StarDate magazine, out the University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory. He had found our website, and requested that StarDate be added to our Links page. And so I did. I used to subscribe to the print version of their magazine, but got too busy one year and just never renewed my subscription. Most of their material is available online now, and it's still a great publication with an interesting website. Check them out at: http://stardate.org/magazine.

At the July Summer Social we had a lively discussion about that old lunar landing conspiracy theory that doesn't seem to want to die. It appears it will finally be put to rest, courtesy of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) images recently released by NASA. You can see them here: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LRO/multimedia/lroimages/apollosites.html. The ascent module bases are clearly seen, but not, of course, the flags. Interestingly, you can see the "astronaut footpath" (NASA's term) leading from the lander to tone of the deployed experiment packages. It appears as a line of disturbed regolith, somewhat darker than the surrounding undisturbed material. Thanks to Scott Loucks for sending this link.

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