Newsletter of the Desert Foothills Astronomy Club
Issue #46: June 1st, 2010

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 2010:
Date   Time   Event   Location
Jan 14   6-8 pm   Astronomy Night   YMCA at 34250 N. 60th Street (just south of the Carefree HWY)
6-8 pm (setup 5:30-6:00 pm)
Jan 20   6:30-8:30 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #4
Speaker: Dan Heim
Topic: The Physics of Weightlessness
  North Valley Regional Library, 40410 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086
Feb 17   6:30-8:30 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #5
Members' Night
  North Valley Regional Library, 40410 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086
Mar 17   6:30-8:30 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #6
Speaker: Scott Schoneman
Topic: New Launch Systems at Orbital Sciences Corporation
  North Valley Regional Library, 40410 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086
Mar 20   6:00 pm-???   Members-only Astronomy Night   Heimhenge in New River.
Apr 21   6:30-8:30 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #7
Speaker: Rick Tejera
Topic: How to Use a Star Atlas - Finding Your Way Around the Night Sky
  North Valley Regional Library, 40410 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086
May 25   6:30-8:30 pm   Annual Business Meeting   North Valley Regional Library, 40410 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086
Jun 19   5:00-9:00 pm   June Summer Social at Heimhenge, featuring Asteroids Snooker, snacks and drinks provided by your hosts Dan & Sandi.   THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED.
Jul 17   Noon-?   July Summer Social at the Walker Ranch, with a double-feature (The Thing, original and remake) on his BIG screen home theater, food and drinks provided by your hosts Ron and Julie. Please RSVP by July 5th.   Walker Ranch in Cave Creek.
Aug 21   5:00-9:00 pm   August Summer Social at the Renn Estate, with a patio BBQ, food and drinks provided by your hosts Jim and Jean. Please RSVP by Sunday, August 15th.   Renn Estate in Anthem.
Sep 15   6:30-8:30 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #1
Speaker: Dan Heim
Topic: Light Pollution Update
  North Valley Regional Library, 40410 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086

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Next Meeting: Wednesday, September 15th, 2010
This is our next "official" meeting, kicking off our 2010-2011 Lecture Series. As has become our tradition, President Dan Heim will provide his annual "Light Pollution Update" including much new material and some recent auspicious developments that have caused his stance to change from "the best we can do is slow the increase of light pollution" to "we may actually be able to reverse the trend, reduce light pollution, and regain our night sky." Both new technologies and new legislation might combine to make this happen.

This should be an exciting presentation, both for amateur astronomers, and for anyone who appreciates the beauty of a dark night sky. Hope to see you there.

Of course, over the summer we'll be meeting 3 times for our traditional Summer Social events. Details and maps are provided in our Events schedule above. Plan ahead, mark these on your calendar, and we hope to see you at all three. These events are a great way to get to know our members at a personal level, and are always lots of fun.

And on that same topic, Jay Chatzkel has asked "Why limit our social events to the summer?" and suggests hosting one at his casa in September or October. Don't know what he has in mind, but we'll surely talk about it over the summer. Thanks to Jay and Barbara for the offer!

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Last Meeting: Tuesday, May 25th, 2010
This was our annual business meeting. In attendance were the core group of Officers including President Dan Heim, VP Jim Renn, Treasurer Roger Serrato, News Group Moderator Scott Loucks, and members Ron Walker and Bob Doerzbacher. Providing input and votes via proxy were Media Liaison Jay Chatzkel and members Dave Beams and George Kantarges.

The first two items on the agenda were brief updates by Dan on some recent developments in light pollution reduction (actually a "teaser" for his upcoming September 15th presentation), and his progress with the Foothills Focus, a local newspaper that now carries his Sky Lights column in its online version (link in State of DFAC below).

Officer elections followed, with all current Officers unanimously retaining their positions. There were two unexpected spin-offs during this process. First, Roger announced that this would be his last year as Treasurer. Bob announced that he would be willing to run for Treasurer following Roger, ensuring continuity in this critical position. Second, Ron announced that he would be willing to run for Webmaster (currently Dan's job). We decided not to vote on that, as the transition is a bit complex, and will require Dan and Ron to work together over the summer on both hardware and software issues. We might end up holding a special election later this year just to make it official, but Ron said he really wants to get his own DFAC business card because they look so cool. So here you go Ron ... this is what your card will look like:

Next on the agenda were some (mostly minor) revisions to our Constitution, removing some redundancies and clarifying the proxy voting process. Perhaps the most significant change was removing the specification about which day of the month our meetings will be held, and simply specifying the months they will be held. This gives us more flexibility to deal with changes in our members' schedules, allowing for the greatest number of members to attend, and to deal with the unusual room rental scheduling process imposed by NVRL. All changes to our Constitution were also unanimously approved.

This was followed by informal discussion about the degree of public outreach DFAC should be doing. More about that in State of DFAC (following section).

Scott then raised the issue of the "DFAC club scope," currently in the possession of Jim Conley, who did not renew his membership for this last season. We understand that Jim has had some medical problems with his hip and knee joints, and that may have prompted his membership non-renewal. We hope that Jim is recovering well, and can rejoin us in the future. Dan committed to contacting Jim and resolving this issue. Scott also suggested a once-a-year public event at the New River Kiwanis Community Park, which could be helpful in fundraising. It's a nice dark site, and we've done events there in the past. Since we'll have a "donations box" at all such future events, this could help grow our treasury as well, if properly promoted.

Roger then presented his annual Treasurer's Report, and DFAC is in fine shape (more about that also below). He also emphasized that, if we decide as a club to do more public events, it is essential for more of our members to get involved. We understand that it's tough to "give up" an evening, but it's for a good cause and great publicity for DFAC. He also suggested raising the honorarium from $20 to $40 for in-town speakers and from $50 to $60 for out-of-town speakers, claiming we could afford to do that based on his numbers. The suggestion was unanimously approved. If you want to download and read his report yourself, the links follow here:

report.doc (17k)
report.pdf (64k)

And so concluded our agenda and Business Meeting. Jim was a little tired, as you can see. It was his birthday today, and he must have started partying early.

We adjourned at 8:30 pm, and all of us regrouped at Legends SB&G for libations, grub, and further discussion. Jim's wife Jean was there with a surprise birthday cake for both Jim and Dan (who had his birthday on the 27th ... 2 days later. Jean had arrived at Legends earlier to secure a table, which was fortunate, since the place was packed for Game 4 of the Suns vs. Lakers playoff. We arrived in time to catch the entire fourth period, and the Suns were victorious. All in all, a great meeting and fun post-meeting.

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State of DFAC: By Dan Heim, President
Item 1. This has been an auspicious year for DFAC. We surpassed our "critical mass" membership count of 20 (needed to cover our operating costs), and are now at 23 members, with a few more yet to come (hopefully) based on recent inquiries. Our treasury is fat enough to weather bad times, but I expect membership to continue to grow. Getting my Sky Lights column back online gives me the soapbox to promote DFAC via an active link, and talk more about light pollution. It also gives me the ability to use color images. In print, I was constrained to grayscale. And that pretty much eliminated any discussion of sun dogs, rainbows, coronae, and the like. On the basis of this optimistic scenario, we proceed to Item 2.

Item 2. DFAC currently has its domain name registration and security with Network Solutions, and its website hosting with Go Daddy. You can read the Treasurer's Report linked in the previous section if you want the details and numbers, but DAFC will likely be switching over all services to Go Daddy at considerable cost savings sometime over this summer. I did this with my own business account, and cut my costs by 20%. This is not a matter that we need to vote on. It will be handled entirely by me and our Treasurer. But it looks like an opportunity to save DFAC some money and actually reduce our operating costs. We'll keep you posted on developments.

Item 3. VP Jim Renn called my attention to a recent article in In&Out magazine (the Anthem local). Seems the Anthem School (at 41020 Freedom Way) is opening their own Aerospace Academy, a magnet school for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). STEM is a national initiative to increase our global competitiveness in those areas, where we sadly lack at present. Principal Patrick Yennie, the article said, was looking to establish relationships with AZ aerospace companies, NASA, Young Astronauts, Air Force JROTC, and Luke AFB. Jim suggested that perhaps DFAC should offer to get involved, and I agreed. I have since spoken with Principal Yennie, and he is eager to have DFAC as part of his program. What this means for DFAC, is an annual Astronomy Night for these students, and yet another great PR opportunity. DFAC members who regularly volunteer for these events are most appreciated. That's yet another way to grow our club.

Item 4. If you haven't already seen the online version of my Sky Lights column in the online Foothills Focus newspaper, the link is:

It updates weekly, on Wednesday or Thursday (depending on how busy their webmaster is). I'd appreciate your bookmarking that link, forwarding it to friends, and visiting weekly. My future negotiations with the editor will depend heavily on the page hit count reported by their servers. Thanks for your support!

Item 5. The distribution of responsibilities required to make DFAC work is a delicate balance. When DFAC was born, Roger (my co-founder) agreed to take the Treasurer position, and I was doing all the rest. Since then, DFAC has added a VP, Media Liaison, and News Group Moderator. DFAC is only 4 years old, and these first 4 years have been a transitional experience. The more we grow, the more talent we amass. It now appears we will be having a new Officer taking over as our Webmaster. Plus a transition to a new Treasurer (next year). The involvement of members in DFAC operations is essential to our success. I have to say that I am excited by these recent developments, a I thank those members who have recently stepped up to the plate.

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:
"Finally we shall place the Sun himself at the center of the Universe. All this is suggested by the system of procession of events and the harmony of the whole Universe, if only we face the facts, as they say, with eyes wide open."

— Nicholas Copernicus

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Space Debris: Dark Sky Observing Sites in AZ
Howard Anderson of EVAC recently posted this compilation of darksky observing sites in AZ. It is built on the Google Maps interface. If you switch to the satellite view and zoom in, you can actually see the dirt roads from the main roads leading to the site, as well as the open areas where scopes could be deployed. DFAC has yet to do a true darksky session. All our members-only events have been here in New River at Heimhenge. And I can still get SQM readings over 20 on good nights, but the view to the south is compromised by Phoenix sky glow. I've asked Howard for permission to add this link to our website. It represents a fair amount of work on his part, and it's a great resource. If and when DFAC finally gets around to doing a "real" darksky observing session, it appears the Cherry Road sites would be the most convenient for most of our members. They are about 60 miles north of here, not far off I-17. Check them out:
Howard has a fine website of his own, showcasing everything from astrophotography to Arizona wildflowers, and much more of general interest. Check it out at:

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