Newsletter of the Desert Foothills Astronomy Club
Issue #47: August 29th, 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
Oct 13   6:30-8:30 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #2
Speaker: Br. Guy Consolmagno, S.J.
Topic: Are Asteroids Fluffy?
  North Valley Regional Library, 40410 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086
NOTE: This meeting is the 2nd Wednesday of
the month to accommodate our speaker.
Nov 17   6:30-8:30 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #3
Speaker: Roger Serrato
Topic: Astronomy 101 (+ How to Buy Your 1st Telescope)
  North Valley Regional Library, 40410 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086

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Next Meeting: Wednesday, September 15th, 2010
This meeting kicks 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 philosophy 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 could combine to make this happen.

Dan will also provide an update on his activities with MAG (Maricopa Association of Governments) in the development of a model light pollution ordinance. And he'll clue you all in on what he learned about those new LED animated billboards (like the one they installed this summer at the Anthem Outlet Mall just off I-17).

This should be an informative presentation for all who appreciate the beauty of a dark night sky. Hope to see you there.

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Last Meeting: Saturday, August 21st, 2010
This was our third Summer Social this year and, as has become tradition, the August event was hosted by VP Jim Renn and his wife Jean. We see here the assembled members at the "guys' table," minus the photographer (whose Guinness Stout can be seen unattended in front of the empty chair). Clockwise from that chair (which was Dan's seat) we have Dave, Scott, Ron, Jim, and Raul. Discussion ran the gamut from the latest 3D movies to the recent Perseid shower.

Not like it was planned this way, but the ladies gravitated to their own table. If you don't recognize all those smiling faces, that's because 3 of them are (hopefully) new members of DFAC, attending their first "official" event just to meet the group. Clockwise from Jean & Julie, they are Janet Marceau, Catherine Mulligan, and Diann Smith. They all have an interest in astronomy, and looked us up to see if maybe we were the right place to learn. They chose wisely. Welcome all!

El Gato ... the flash bulb got his (her?) attention.

Dan poses here with our 3 new guests. Aaahhh, the protocols of office. No, that is not a tiara on my head. It's an ornament on the wall behind me. Nice camera angle, Ron :)

Of course, there was the usual fine selection of appetizers ...

... which in most cases had us already filled up. But then Jim brought in the burgers and brats, hot off the grill. You just can't beat an August BBQ.

After stuffing ouselves, we retired to the patio. It was still a bit warm, but Scott and Dan wanted to enjoy a pipe of their favorite tobacco. Discussion continued on matters astronomical. We decided to organize a "group trip" and meet at one of the AMC theaters to see the 3D IMAX movie "Hubble." This was at the Desert Ridge AMC on Sunday August 29th.

The event broke up between 8-9 pm. As they say ... a good time was had by all. Our thanks to Jim and Jean Renn for hosting yet another outstanding August Social.

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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 22 members, with a few more yet to come (hopefully) based on recent inquiries. Unfortunately, at last count, only 13 of those members have paid their dues for the upcoming season. So if you have not, please either send your check to Roger or bring it to our September meeting. There is no need to complete a membership form unless your contact information has changed. Fortunately, our treasury is fat enough to weather bad times, but we do have some bills to pay. Thanks for your attention to this.

Item 2. DFAC member Scott Roher has suggested we utilize our mutual contact with Tony Gutowski to arrange a public outreach event at the Pioneer Living History Museum. Tony is a member of NRDHCA (New River Desert Hills Community Association), where I have spoken several times. He also happens to be a Board member at the Museum. It's between Anthem and Tramonto just west of I-17, so it's not really a "dark-sky" site, but they can control their own lighting, and have both electricity and restrooms available. Tony and Scott spoke about a possible "Astronomy Night" at the Museum, and it looks to be a win-win scenario. And Tony has a personal interest in astronomy. I have made contact with the Museum, and planning is underway. We'd probably need at least 6 scopes to handle the crowd. Whether this would be a ticket event (with DFAC getting a cut), or an open event (where we could still set up our donation box) is yet to be determined. Given that we want a young Moon up, and need to do this on a Saturday, the two dates being discussed are Nov 13 and Dec 11. I believe the November date is better, since Dec 11 is getting pretty close to the holidays. I'll keep you all posted on developments.

Item 3. It appears, due to scheduling complications, DFAC will not be doing its usual Veteran's Day event (solar viewing) at the Anthem celebration this year. VP Jim Renn, who organized this event in previous years, called my attention to these problems at the August Social. Further, due to Roger's new work schedule, his solar scope and tent will be unavailable. I don't see this as a huge issue, since we can only do so many outreach events each year, and I see the Pioneer Astronomy Night as potentially even bigger and better outreach. Plus, it could become an annual (and fund-raising) event. If we do any solar this year, it may well be in connection with the new Aerospace Academy (magnet school) in Anthem. Both my H-alpha equipped Takahashi and Roger's neutral density filtered C-8 would be available for a weekday daytime event. I expect I'll be hearing from principal Patrick Yennie shortly, as soon as the new school year is underway.

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!

By the way, 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. So far it's been a fun venture, but we're still working to iron out some bugs as we move forward.

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:
"He preferred the hard truth to his dearest illusions."

— Carl Sagan's epitaph to astronomer Johannes Kepler

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Space Debris: Atmospheric Optics
Several of our members not only do astrophotography, they also photograph what are generically called "luminous atmospheric phenomena" (rainbows, sun dogs, halos, etc.). Several books on this topic have ben published, all with beautiful color images, and some that also explain the optics behind the phenomena. Most notable of these is "Rainbows, Halos, and Glories" by Robert Greenler of the University of Milwaukee. You can snag a used copy of this hardcover tome for a mere $20 on Amazon. Use the link below:

But I digress. This is not about talking you into buying Greenler's book. Turns out there's an outstanding website covering just this topic. It doesn't get into detailed explanations of the optics, but it does contain a wealth of beautiful images. It's been running since 1998, and was put together by Les Cowley of the UK. Most of the images are his own, and he's as good a photographer as Greenler. I'm certain you'll enjoy browsing his website. To visit, use the link below:

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