Newsletter of the Desert Foothills Astronomy Club
Issue #39: October 19th, 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
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
Sep 19   6:00 pm - ?   DFAC Members Only Observing Session   Heimhenge in New River.
Setup 5:30 - 6:30 pm, sunset at 6:30 pm, moonset at 6:45 pm
NWS is predicting clear skies through the weekend!
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
Oct 24   6:00 pm - 8:00 pm   Astronomy Night for DAMS   Desert Arroyo Middle School, 33401 N. 56th Street, Scottsdale, AZ 86331.
Map available
Setup from 5:30 pm - 6:00 pm.
Nov 17   6:30 pm - 8:30 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #3
Speaker: Tom Polakis
Topic: Lunar and Planetary Imaging with a Webcam
  North Valley Regional Library, 40410 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086
This meeting will be held on a Tuesday to accommodate our speaker's schedule.
Dec 5   TBA   Holiday Social   The Renn Hacienda.
This will probably be a potluck.
Other info to be provided later.

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Next Meeting: Tuesday, November 17th, 2009
Our speaker will be local astrophotographer Tom Polakis, who has presented to DFAC twice in the past. He'll be talking about how to use a webcam attached to a scope for shooting lunar and planetary images. If you haven't seen any of his amazing images, visit his website at: We hope to see you all there. Note that this is a special Tuesday meeting date, chosen to accommodate our speaker's schedule.

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Last Meeting: Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Our last meeting was the annual Astronomy 101 presentation, by Treasurer Roger Serrato. We have committed to starting each Lecture Series with Dan Heim's Light Pollution Update, followed by Astronomy 101. With the holiday season approaching, this is a good time to talk about telescope choices as possible gifts, learning how to use a telescope you have, and generally introducing people to our hobby. This has proven to be a popular presentation in the past, as it was again this year.

Dan opened the meeting, as always, with a precision impact of the Galactic Gavel. After a brief discussion regarding yet another potential change in our meeting dates (read more in State of DFAC below) he turned the meeting over to DFAC Treasurer Roger Serrato.

Roger began with a discussion of basic telescope geometries, and the pros and cons of each. Even though this presentation is at a level aimed for beginning astronomers, even experienced amateurs benefit from reviewing basic principles. Roger went on to discuss different mount styles, eyepiece types, the use of filters, planispheres, and binoculars, and how to navigate via RA and DEC, as well as via naked eye "star hopping." This presentation gets better every year, as Roger continues to add and refine content.

There was plenty of time for Q&A afterwards. This image shows the group assembled (minus photographer Dan Heim). We had 8 DFAC members in attendance, and another 8 guests who had responded to either our press release or posters, both of which helped publicize this special meeting. One of those guests, Anthem resident George Barrett, became the newest member of DFAC that night. Welcome George! We may get a few more new members shortly. The meeting was adjourned at 8:45 pm, after which several members continued discussion at Legends SB&G.

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State of DFAC: By Dan Heim, President
Item 1: Still no firm commitment from Marc Buckhout, editor of the Foothills Focus, regarding resurrecting my weekly Sky Lights column, either in their online or print versions. I need to push a little harder here, I guess. I'd prefer to go with this newspaper, rather than Sonoran News, just to due personal philosophical differences I have with the publisher of the latter. There are few other alternatives beyond publishing it online myself as a blog, and/or perhaps adding that blog to our DFAC website as a "new feature." Wish me luck, as however this plays out, it will be yet another venue for getting out the word on light pollution.

Item 2: MAG (the Maricopa Association of Governments) is in the process of developing a comprehensive light pollution policy that would apply throughout the County. Of course, both the ARS and Maricopa County Zoning Ordinance address these issues (to a limited extent), but beyond that, there exists an inconsistent mix of other policies for individual cities and towns within the County. MAG is working with the IDA on this, and also seeking a "citizens panel" to provide additional input. The Glendale MAG rep contacted Jimmy Ray of SAC for the name of an amateur astronomer who could work on this committee. He suggested me, since I had spoken to SAC last year on the topic of light pollution. A recent communication from MAG confirmed my position on this committee. This is the kind of opportunity I've been seeking, in order to have some real impact on laws and zoning that preserve our night sky. I am awaiting notice of our first MAG meeting, and you can trust I'll keep you all apprised of my progress.

Item 3: After consultation with the members, email feedback, and some final input at our October meeting, we have decided to change our meeting day to "third 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 #2 (Classroom #1 has been commandeered by Boulder Creek HS for use as an additional student classroom). Meeting times remain the same. However, we will need to be more timely in the scheduling of that single, remaining classroom ... and that's my job. Sal Casillo, NVRL Manager tells me they will start taking reservations for 2010 in December of 2009. I will be there on December 1st with our 2010 schedule, and grab those dates.

Item 4: Our October 24th Astronomy Night at Dessert Arroyo Middle School is fully staffed, all systems go. Pray for clear skies, as our earlier event at Foothills Academy was clouded out within an hour of our arrival. Thanks to DFAC volunteers Scott Loucks, Jim Renn, Ron Walker, Roger Serrato, Raul Espinoza, and me, for making this event happen. Some 100 parents and students will be attending, so this provides some huge visibility for DFAC. Of course, we'll have a table with our brochures to encourage potential new members. And if any other DFAC member just wants to drop by and check out the views, you are welcome to do so. The map is available here. Plus, you get to park in the "exclusive" bus turn-around loop, and park within 20-30 feet of where we'll be setup.

Item 5: We plan to repeat our daytime solar and terrestrial observing display at the Anthem Veterans Day festival on November 7th. Details are still being worked out by Jim Renn, but it will be much the same as last year: Jim's CAT on some distant mountain peak, Roger's CAT on the Sun with a neutral density filter, and my Takahashi also on the Sun with an H-alpha filter. Solar activity is picking up, and we're hoping to see both sunspots and flares this time around. Scott will be manning our info table, and handing out DFAC brochures. If you're free that day, come on by and check us out ... a couple members did exactly that last year, and were treated to a fine h-alpha view of a solar flare.

Item 6: At some point your life, you will play a game of Asteroids Snooker. The game was invented by yours truly, scheduled for play at the August DFAC Social, but the balls arrived one day late. We now have the full set of un-numbered snooker balls: 13 black (asteroids), 1 yellow (Sun), 1 blue (Earth). After the game we played at the last Heimhenge meeting (when observing got clouded out), I discovered, not surprisingly for a new game, some ambiguities and other defects in the rules. The current revised rules are available on our Downloads page. Note that I have added a copyright notice to preserve my rights while still posting this online (which would otherwise put it immediately into the public domain).

Item 7: VP Jim Renn is now at work scheduling four more speakers to fill our 2010 Lecture Series for this season. Our Lectures page will be updated as each speaker confirms, so check it out occasionally to see what's coming up. We have some exciting speakers in the queue, and all we need to do now that our meeting day has been set, is lock them in. Thanks Jim!

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:
"Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said, ’Because it was there.’ Well, space is there, and we’re going to climb it, and the Moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there."

— President John F. Kennedy, Address at Rice University on the Space Effort, September 12, 1962

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Space Debris: The Year in Space
I received an email last week from one Steve Carridi, publisher of "The Year in Space." It was one of many emails I get as President of DFAC ... we're on several mailing lists due to our membership in both IDA and AL. Anyway, in cooperation with the Planetary Society, they have recently made several of their resources available for free online. I have provided a partial copy of his communication below, along with links to their resources. I've also added "The Week in Space" to our Links page.


The Year In Space, published in cooperation with The Planetary Society, is now offering free online and e-mail versions of its popular print edition desk calendar. Please share these completely free weekly resources with your club members, and feel free to link to the weekly calendar from your club website or newsletter. The new companion website and the weekly newsletter are completely free — no purchase is necessary. The online calendar and the newsletter are very concise but packed with information that amateur astronomers and space enthusiasts will find useful. Now in its 17th year of publication, The Year In Space features images and information from the past, present and future of space exploration and astronomical discovery. Each weekly space photo-essay is accompanied by daily Moon phases, night sky information, space history dates, and more.

See the current week in space online:
Sign up for the free weekly newsletter:
Learn about the 144-page desk calendar:

If you have any questions about the free online calendar, the free weekly e-mail newsletter, or the desk calendar, please contact me ( and I'll do my best to help you.

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