Newsletter of the Desert Foothills Astronomy Club
Issue #50: November 22nd, 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
Speaker:
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
Dec 11 or
Dec 18
  TBA   DFAC Holiday Social   TBA

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Next Meeting: Wednesday, January 19th, 2011
Scheduling still in progress ...

Doors will open at 6 pm. Hope to see you all there!

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Last Meeting: Wednesday, November 17th, 2010
Dan opened the meeting with the usual meteoric impact ... and this one isn't fluffy. He filled us in on his latest meeting with MAG (more about that in State of DFAC below), and then turned the lectern over to DFAC Treasurer Roger Serrato.

Roger was presenting his annual "Astronomy 1.1," geared to beginners in our hobby, as well as those considering the purchase of a scope for the holidays. In fact, two of the people in attendance had received a scope last holiday season, and were having difficulty getting it working. Trust that we will help them out. It's part of our mission.

This first slide pretty much shows what he covered. Quite basic, yes, but invaluable to beginners.

And here's another slide Roger used to explain the various optical designs for telescopes.

He also included a series of animations showing the motion of light through each optical design. These were created by Dan using Adobe After Effects. If you click on the image below, the animation should open in your media player. Or you can right-click and Save As (Newtonian.wmv 193 kB). Scott Loucks, ever the engineer, "objected" to the ray path, which shows the ray on the left hitting the secondary before the other ray reaches it. In the end, after rebuttal by Dan, since both rays reach the focal point simultaneously, Scott reluctantly relented.

Presentation complete, we put the lights back on and Roger fielded questions from the audience. He intentionally shortened his presentation to allow more time for Q&A, given the target audience.

Speaking of which, it was a pretty small target. Only 10 people were there. Surprising, since this meeting usually draws a good crowd. We had posters up at the NVRL, and a couple other locations. I suspect there may have been a breakdown in our media pipeline. Still looking into that. Except for our two guests, turnout was disappointingly low.

Thanks to Roger for an excellent presentation, as always. He gives this presentation at other venues too, and never needs a script. Having worked at a telescope shop doesn't hurt either.

The meeting ended around 8:30 pm, giving us ample time for a visit to Native New Yorker for food and drink. We grabbed an inside booth, since it was a little too cool outside. Our original haunt, Legends, is still closed from that transformer explosion (!?) but should be re-opening soon.

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State of DFAC: By Dan Heim, President
Item 1. Don't know if you noticed, but this is the 50th issue of Quid Novi. Allow me to reminisce ... when we formed DFAC back in 2006, Roger and I discussed the whole newsletter issue. Traditionally, clubs have newsletters, and they use them to move information. In the past, that meant mimeographs at one point, but these days other media are more efficient. We considered going with no newsletter at all and relying only one email notices (since just about everyone is "connected" these days). We also considered an online blog. Bottom line was delivering needed info to our members, and doing it with the lowest possible cost and effort. It's also important to leave a "paper trail" (more accurately, "bit string") for historical reference. This is what we ended up with. The name "Quid Novi" translates (loosely) from Latin as "What's Happening." The name was suggested by Jared Copeland, a classics scholar at UA, and former physics student from my Brophy era. We hope Quid Novi is working to your satisfaction. We like it. To browse some of early issue and see how much we've evolved, go to: Past Issues.

Item 2. DFAC member Jim Conley asked me to remind everyone that we have a Club Scope available for loan at no charge. It's a beginner's scope (6" Newtonian), but it's in excellent shape thanks to Jim's restoration work. You can read more about it here: Club Telescope. If you're interested in borrowing it, email me and I'll put you in contact with Jim.

Item 3. Doesn't hurt to remind everyone, so here it is again, copied and pasted from last month: After consultation with our Treasurer, Roger Serrato, we've decided we need to set a more firm deadline for renewal. Henceforth it will be May 31st, as our League dues come due in June. We'll still welcome you with open arms if you renew late, but you might miss an issue or two of The Reflector. We have also simplified our record keeping by changing our membership application to specify full dues by May 31st (doing away with the pro-rated system). Since people are welcome to attend even as non-members, it really makes no difference to our treasury. However, when May 31 rolls around, dues are due, and all regular participants will be encouraged to remit. You'll see these changes reflected on our Join DFAC page.

Item 4. On Nov 16th I attended another MAG (Maricopa Association of Governments) meeting, participating in the creation of a model lighting ordinance for use by cities and towns. I represent the amateur astronomy community as a "stakeholder." Other interests represented include professional astronomers, IDA, city planners, engineers, advertising industry, billboard industry, etc. It's a diverse group that brings a lot of concerns to the table. The proposed lighting ordinance is still a work in progress. Our next meeting is Dec 14th. Even after we have a finished product that all stakeholders can live with, this is only a model. It can be adopted (or not) in part or in whole. The basic idea behind this MAG project, which was originally driven by professional astronomers, is to do the research, specs, and legal details for the ordinance. Before any ordinance is adopted, these are necessary steps. We're trying to make it easy, and our selling point is that, bottom line, wasteful lighting costs energy and money. So it really can be a "win-win" scenario. I'll keep you posted on developments, but if you're interested in seeing what we're up to, visit: http://www.mag.maricopa.gov/main/search.asp?qu=lighting and browse around.

Item 5. Again, a copy and paste from last month. We have an opportunity to do a "field trip" in southeastern Utah with Wild River Expeditions. If you were at the September meeting, you heard the sales pitch I presented. If you missed it, and might be interested, you can download the file WRE.pps on our Downloads page. It's a self-playing PowerPoint slide show, so you don't need to have PowerPoint to view it. It's fairly self-explanatory, even without my narration. Bottom line is we'll have a professional archeologist and geologist onboard to educate us on those topics, and I will fill the roll of astronomer for education at night. I'm hoping by then to have replaced my trusty 10x80 binocs with a pair of these babies: http://www.bigbinoculars.com/100bt45.htm. Carpooling for the 7-hour drive to Bluff, Utah would be required. Dates are yet to be determined, but would be one of those listed in the slide show. I'll be pitching this to the other astronomy clubs as well. If you are interested, let me know and I'll add you to my list. If we can round up the requisite 10-20 people we'll have all systems go. You know how to reach me. It might be possible to jump in late, but the sooner you let me know, the more likely this will happen. I already have 2 interested just from DFAC.

Item 6. And yet another copy and paste from last month. In fact, expect to see this here every month until we get some action. VP Jim Renn will not be continuing as VP next year. He'll still be a member, but time constraints dictate his decision. So we're looking for a member to step up and run for VP, to be voted on at our May 2011 Business Meeting. Here's the job description from our Constitution:

ARTICLE 2: Officers and Duties

b. Vice President: The Vice President shall assist the President in the performance of all duties, and assume responsibility for those duties should the President be unable to do so. The Vice President will maintain and a list of potential speakers for our Lecture Series, contact and schedule those speakers, and coordinate stipends as needed with the Treasurer.

If you think you can fill this position, please let me know. A few things to be aware of ... first, we maintain a "speaker contact list" with both phone numbers and emails for some 24 potential speakers to make the job of scheduling easier (not that you can't add to the list, which grows yearly). Second, as #1 for the President, your attendance at meetings is crucial. Should the President, for whatever reason, be unable to preside, you will need to be there. And third, should you become our new VP, you'll get an unlimited supply of these cool DFAC business cards:

I count on our membership to help make DFAC work. I appreciate the support of those who do, and encourage those who haven't to consider it. Bottom line is, none of the Officer positions really dominate your schedule, and you have considerable flexibility in choosing how to make it work. So please consider it, and I appreciate your thinking about it.

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:
[Ed: Sigh ... some people just have no sense of vision.]

“The Space Shuttle is the most effective device known to man for destroying dollar bills.”

US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher

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Space Debris: Joint Observing Session with PAS
On November 13th DFAC and PAS (Phoenix Astronomical Society) held our first joint observing session at Heimhenge in New River. I never got an exact count, but there were about a dozen people in attendance and half that number of scopes. The weather cooperated until about 10 pm, when clouds rolled in from the north. The panorama below shows the assembled group.

We set up about 5 pm with sunset at 5:30 pm. Targets included the 1st Quarter Moon, Jupiter, and many favorite deep-sky objects, including M31 and M57, The Double Cluster in Perseus, Albireo, and more. Seeing was pretty good (until 10 pm), but the Moon limited us on the fainter targets. Don Boyd, below, came dressed for cold weather. By the time we called it a night, temps had dropped to the low 50s, but at least the wind was calm.

Below, Dan poses with his 17.5" Coulter Dob, which he's had since the late 80s. This was "last light" for the two of them, as the scope was sold the following day. It takes two people to set this scope up, and Dan no longer has a means to transport it. So he decided it was time to find the Dob another home. Dan will be "focusing" more on planetary, solar, and lunar using his 5" Takahashi apochromat in the future. He also has plans to try CCD imaging since his DSLR adds a bit too much weight for his mount.

Even though we got clouded out at 10 pm, we had chairs set up in a circle, and were all bundled for the weather, so we spent about another hour just chatting about all things astronomical. It was a great night of astronomy, visual and verbal. If you missed out on this one, try to make the next, maybe in Feb-March.

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