Newsletter of the Desert Foothills Astronomy Club
Issue #54: April 1st, 2011
          Member Society of the Astronomical League
Since 2006

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 @ 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, April 20th, 2011
Our speaker will be Rick Tejera, Editor and member of SAC, who returns for his second presentation to DFAC. Rick's topic will be "Beyond M42 (what to look for after you've found all the easy stuff)." He'll have a target list coordinated for this time of year, coincidentally when M42 is prominent. If you're a beginner and need some new celestial targets, this is exactly what the doctor ordered. If you're an experienced observer, find out what interesting targets you've been missing.

If you want to sneak an advance look at Rick's planned program, check it out here: Beyond M42.pdf (5 KB)

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

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Last Meeting: Wednesday, March 16th, 2011
Our last meeting featured Bob Holmes, Meteorite Man, and source of the Campo de Cielo meteorite that became our DFAC Galactic Gavel. Dan started the meeting with his usual asteroid impact, and made a few announcements related to club business.

That was followed by an announcement by DFAC Media Liaison Jay Chatzkel regarding his upcoming (March 22nd) Daisy Mountain Camera Club meeting, at which member Ron Walker would be speaking on the topic: "The history of video recording technology and media in the film industry" (which, by the way, was itself an excellent presentation). Jay speaks below.

Dan then turned over the lectern to our guest speaker Bob Holmes, who launched into an informative survey of meteorite types, classifications, and compositions, He also spoke about the process of finding and identifying meteorites in the field, using simple tools like metal detectors, diamond files, scratch plates, and magnets. If you've seen the show "Meteorite Men" on the Science Channel, and wondered if they make it look easier than it really is, the answer is no ... provided you have the right equipment and travel to the best strewn fields. Bob actually knows these gentlemen (Geoffrey Notkin and Steve Arnold) and vouches for their authenticity, but reminded us that these guys have a lot of experience, can afford to travel to where the meteorites are, and of course focus their show on the "finds" instead of the "busts."

Bob brought along some samples from his collection for show and tell, as well as recommended reading for would-be meteorite hunters. He proudly pointed out an acknowledgment of his contributions in the Forward of the Meteorite Men's latest book.

After his presentation, Bob invited members up to take a closer look at his samples, ask questions, and hold a piece of outer space in their hands.

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

The assembled crowd, numbering 14, enjoyed the presentation and engaged our speaker with questions, and some of their own samples for identification. Bob is an expert at telling a meteorite from a "meteor-wrong."

We retired after the meeting to Native New Yorker, our new post-meeting venue. Legends Sports Bar now hold poker tournaments on Wednesdays, so it's too noisy and crowded for our purposes. About 6 members joined us there for food and libations, and continued our discussion of all things astronomical. As always, this extended our enjoyable evening till around 9:30 pm.

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State of DFAC: By Dan Heim, President
Item 1: OK, this first item has to start with "April Fool!" Given the publication date, which has recently defaulted to "first of the month," I could hardly resist. The spoof in the accompanying email:

This just in ... exciting new development for DFAC! It now appears that member Ron Walker (an independent producer) will be teaming up with George Lucas for a movie based on the classic TV series Space 1999! And what's more, there'll be several minor cast openings for which DFAC members will be eligible! Read more in State of DFAC in our newsletter, and claim your 15 minutes of fame.

was suggested by Treasurer Roger Serrato. We actually had several ideas, but this one seemed the most plausible. Sorry about that, but if it actually got you to read State of DFAC, mission accomplished.

Item 2: I'm pleased to announce that all DFAC Officers will be continuing in their positions for next season, so only a confirmation vote will be needed at our May Business Meeting. Thanks to Dan Heim (President), Jim Renn (VP), Roger Serrato (Treasurer), Jay Chatzkel (Media Liaison), and Scott Loucks (Newsgroup Moderator) for helping make DFAC a continuing success. At some point there will no doubt need to be some turn-over, but I'm told by other clubs this is the norm when a club first starts out. We're still at 22 members, which tops the "critical mass" of about 20 needed to meet our costs without raising dues. But I suspect we'll need to grow some more before the available pool of members contains people with enough time and motivation to challenge any seated Officer. It'll happen at some point.

Item 3: [Repeated from last month to allow for last minute input before our May Business Meeting.] Based on feedback (or lack thereof) we've made three decisions regarding next season. First, we'll be planning a field trip south next February to attend the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show, and take in some other interesting area sights, including (perhaps) the McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope and a retired Titan Missile silo, mothballed since the end of the Cold War. Turns out one of our members, VP Jim Renn, actually spent some time in one of these silos during his tenure in the Air Force. Details are still being worked out, but this will likely be an overnight stay.

Second, it has been decided that our 3rd-Wedensday-of-the-month nominal meeting date will remain as is, with occasional exceptions to accommodate our speakers.

And finally, we are going to switch our liability insurance from Marsh Affinity Group to RV Nuccio & Associates. The switch will save us $55/year, with slight but insignificant reductions in coverage limits. My wife Sandi, 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. See the February issue of Quid Novi for specific details about the coverage changes.

It's still not to late for any member to provide input on these three items. Only the last (insurance) needs to be voted on at our May Business Meeting. If you don't expect to attend, send me your preference and I will cast your vote by proxy in your absence.

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:
“I wonder why. I wonder why I wonder. I wonder why I wonder why I wonder.”

Richard Feynman

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Space Debris: Dome Raising at Star Veil Observatory
On Saturday, March 5th, several DFAC members, family, and friends, came together at the Tramanto hacienda of member Raul Espinoza for a dome raising at his Star Veil Observatory. Present were DFAC members Diann Smith, Scott Rohrer, Scott Loucks, Mark Bosley, and Dan Heim. Others in the photo below include (behind Raul) Raul's son Stephen, and friends Kim, Don, and Rich.

The lift is underway ... total weight just over 200 pounds, and easily managed by a crew of eight adults. The dome is fiberglass and metal, and was fabricated onsite by Raul.

Heavy lifting done, the dome now needed some fine tuning to interface properly with its supporting structure.

The proud crew, and a very happy Raul, pose for a post-lift photo.

Since that time Raul has been continuing work on his own. We received this photo on March 23rd, showing the now-installed metal siding.

When Raul gets his C-14 mounted and operational, he promises a "first light" event at his place for all DFAC members, date to be announced.

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