Newsletter of the Desert Foothills Astronomy Club
Issue #52: February 1st, 2011

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 2011:
Date   Time   Event   Location
Jan 19   6:30-8:30 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #4
Speaker: Dennis Young, Sirius Lookers Astronomy Club of Sedona
Topic: Astro Scenic Photography of Arizona
  North Valley Regional Library, 40410 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086
Feb 16   6:30-8:30 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #5
Speaker: Howard Israel, IDA
Topic: The Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe
  North Valley Regional Library, 40410 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086
Mar 16   6:30-8:30 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #6
Bob Holmes, Meteorite Man
Topic: Meteorite Hunting
The Inside Story
  North Valley Regional Library, 40410 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086
Apr 20   6:30-8:30 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #7
Speaker: Rick Tejera, Saguaro Astronomy Club
Topic: Beyond M42 (what to look at after you've found all the easy stuff)
  North Valley Regional Library, 40410 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086
May 18   6:30-8:30 pm   Annual Business Meeting   North Valley Regional Library, 40410 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086
Jun TBA   5:00-9:00 pm   June Summer Social at Heimhenge, featuring Asteroids Snooker, snacks and drinks provided by your hosts Dan & Sandi.   Maps will be sent to members only.

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Next Meeting: Wednesday, February 16th, 2011
Our speaker will be Howard Israel of the IDA. He will not be talking about light pollution. Turns out he's quite knowledgeable in many areas of our hobby. I met Howard at a MAG meeting, and had corresponded with him on matters of light pollution. He said he'd be pleased to speak to DFAC, and let me pick the topic from a list he provided. I chose SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). We haven't yet had a speaker on this topic, and I know many of our members would like to learn about current SETI research. In addition, Howard will explain how various parameters of the Drake Equation have changed in the last 2 decades. Further, he'll expound on his personal view of the Fermi Paradox. This will be a fascinating presentation.

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

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Last Meeting: Wednesday, January 19th, 2011
Our last meeting featured Dennis Young, astro-scenic photographer and member of the Sedona Sirius Lookers astronomy club. Dennis sit in the background here, as Dan opens the meeting with a few items of club business. Note the wild garb perched at left next to Dennis.

Dennis took the floor, wearing astro pants that can barely be seen here. Suffice it so, they were psychedelic. Cool tie too. He showed many slides of his work, combining landscape and skyscape photography, We learned that timing is everything ... whether you're trying to capture a comet against the red rocks of Sedona, or simply get the moonlight angle correct on a waterfall. We all came away from this meeting with a better appreciation of his work, and insights into what makes a great astro-scenic photo. As a bonus, at the end of his presentation, Dennis provided a brief overview of the evolution of telescope eyepieces. He brought many examples for show& tell. One has to wonder how much $ Dennis has tied up in eyepieces. He's an obvious optics connoisseur.

Scott Loucks appears deeply absorbed in the presentation, but might be thinking about what he's gonna order at Legends after the meeting.

Dan Heim appears deeply absorbed in the presentation, but might be thinking about what he's gonna order at Legends after the meeting.

The meeting adjourned around 8:30 pm, as Dan caused the traditional asteroid to lithosphere impact.

The assembled crowd, numbering 14, included 2 guests from Jay Chatzkel's photography club.

We retired after the meeting to Legends Sports Bar. They finally re-opened after several months of recovery from a transformer explosion. The EPA had to clear them of any PCBs on the premises. I have to say, none of our food or drink had a PCB after-taste. You know ... it would be good to get a group picture at Legends one of these days. We usually have 6-8 members attending, and it seems to have become a tradition. DFAC is not only an astronomy club, it is also a social club. We all have many common interests beyond our mutual hobby of astronomy.

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State of DFAC: By Dan Heim, President
Item 1: Not much to report at this point in time, except that our speaker schedule for Spring has filled in nicely. See the DFAC Events for 2011 at the top of this page. We have some interesting lectures on tap for 2011, and always strive for a good mix of topics. We think you'll enjoy our selections.

Item 2: Check out our new Links page. It's been reorganized by category, and includes many new links provided by Dennis Young (our Jan 19th speaker). Something there for just about everyone.

Item 3: 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 not to run. 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 step up, 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 this, and I appreciate your thinking about it.

Item 4: DFAC member Scott Loucks has suggested we put the Tucson Gem & Mineral Sow on our calendar for next January. In addition to being the premier event of its type in AZ, there are planty of astronomical points of interest in the area. It was proposed at our January meeting that we make this an overnight event to allow for more opportunities, as well as organize carpooling for the drive down there. We could easily spend more than a day at the TGMS, as it's huge. Plus, Scott tells me there are some pretty good deals on meteorites at the TGMS, should you be interested in acquiring one. I would suggest driving down the evening before, getting rooms somewhere, spending the next morning at the TGMC, and then the afternoon at the McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope which offers public tours as well as special "insider" tours for astronomy clubs if arranged in advance. I've been there, and if you haven't yet seen this instrument, I guarantee you will enjoy the visit.

So that's the first item for which I need input. Please respond to me if you are interested in doing an overnight event such as this.

Item 5: Our liability insurance comes due each year in August, and we are thinking of switch companies to save some funds. Our existing insurer (Marsh Affinity Group) costs us $320 yearly, and is our single largest expense. We need this kind of insurance if we do any public events. I recently received a mailing from RV Nuccio & Associates, offering to provide insurance at $265, saving us $55. The "catch" is that their "single medical emergency" coverage is $5k rather than our current $10k, and there is no coverage for automobiles (which we now have with Marsh). My wife, who's in the insurance business, tells me it sounds like a viable deal. I would tend to agree, since claims are rare for astronomy clubs, and nonexistent to date for DFAC.

And that's the second item for which I request member input. If you will be attending our May Business meeting, we'll be voting on it then. If you don't expect to attend, send me your preference and I will cast your vote by proxy in your absence.

Item 6: One of our members has inquired as to our meeting dates, and suggests that something other than our nominal "3rd Wednesday of the month" might work better. We try to pick a meeting date that works for the majority of our members, but realize there will always be conflicts whatever date we choose. Again, this needs to be voted on at our May Business Meeting, so if you don't plan on attending, let me know and I will cast your vote by proxy. If I don't hear from you, I'll consider it a vote for continuing as usual. If you would prefer a different date, tell me your preference.

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:
“One of the most impressive discoveries was the origin of the energy of the stars, that makes them continue to burn. One of the men who discovered this was out with his girl friend the night after he realized that nuclear reactions must be going on in the stars in order to make them shine. She said "Look at how pretty the stars shine!" He said, "Yes, and right now I am the only man in the world who knows why they shine." She merely laughed at him. She was not impressed with being out with the only man who, at that moment, knew why stars shine. Well, it is sad to be alone, but that is the way it is in this world.”

Richard Feynman, "The Feynman Lectures in Physics"

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Space Debris: Local Amateur Scores Big
Local amateur astronomer and photometry expert Jeff Hopkins (who some of you know) has completed his analysis of the recent Epsilon Aurigae brightness cycle. Evidence is strong that this is a binary system that includes an occulting disc. He presented his work at the January meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle. Jeff's (zoomable) poster paper for that meeting, is available here: [For some reason, this DL will time-out. But it's still viewable.]

Jeff's Hopkins Observatory website is at: He's done some amazing work. I almost hesitate to call Jeff "amateur," as the distinction between that and "professional" continues to blur as more and more equipment (like the LHIRES and PEP-101 photometers) comes into the reach of the amateur community. In fact, his website proclaims he does "not so amateur" astronomy. I tend to agree.

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