Newsletter of the Desert Foothills Astronomy Club
Issue #55: May 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 25   3:00 pm - ?   June Summer Social at Heimhenge, featuring Asteroids Snooker, snacks and drinks provided by your hosts Dan & Sandi. Arrive at 3 pm for Snooker, 5 pm for food and a special double-feature on the big screen.   Heimhenge (maps will be sent to members only)

Back to Top

Next Meeting: Wednesday, May 18, 2011
This will be our annual Business Meeting, including election of club officers, our Treasurer's Report by Roger Serrato, and an official vote regarding a change in our liability insurance provider. Our Business Meetings rarely run more than an hour, so we'll be adjourning early and retiring to Native New Yorker for the usual food and libations.

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

Back to Top

Last Meeting: Wednesday, March 16th, 2011
Our last meeting featured Rick Tejera, Editor and member of SAC, who returned for his second presentation to DFAC. Rick's topic was "Beyond M42 (what to look for after you've found all the easy stuff)." He discussed several of the "tools" needed for finding the "not easy stuff," including sky atlases, databases, software, and hardware. And, as promised, here's the link to their website where you can find that software, as well as the SAC collection of databases:

Dan starts the meeting with the usual Galactic Gavel impact ...

DFAC member Raul gives an update on his progress with Star Veil Observatory (see Space Debris).

Our featured speaker, Rick Tejera, anxiously awaits his turn at the podium.

This slide from Rick's presentation shows some of the software assets available at no charge from SAC.

Rick takes questions from the audience after his enlightening lecture.

Dan closes the meeting with another Galactic Gavel impact.

The meeting adjourned around 8:30 pm, with 12 members in attendance.

We retired after the meeting to Native New Yorker, our new post-meeting venue. As always, this extended our enjoyable evening till around 9:30 pm.

Back to Top

State of DFAC: By Dan Heim, President
Item 1: 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 2: Dues are due. We got burned last year with cash flow because of late renewals. Some members missed out on their Astronomical League magazine. We've cut costs to keep our dues stable. But we need prompt remittance for this year's dues. May 31 is the deadline. You can pay at our May Business Meeting, mail it to our Treasurer here, or (as a last resort) bring your check or cash to our June Summer Social.

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. And while we're down there ...

This just in from DFAC member Scott Loucks ... turns out he has connections at the Catalina Sky Survey on Mt. Bigelow. Scott has confirmed a few SB objects discovered by CSC, so they owe him, and he's calling in his chips. We have now received confirmation that, with a little advance notice, we can get a private tour there for DFAC. Details will be nailed down as the date approaches. Thanks Scott!

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 third, 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.

Item 4: This is the one you've been waiting for. Details on the DFAC June Summer Social ...

Dan & Sandi Heim are proud to be hosting the DFAC June Summer Social at Heimhenge. Just bring yourselves and your family. Heimhenge has everything else covered for you (but hey, an extra bottle of wine never hurts). This is just our way of saying "Thanks!" to all our members for helping make DFAC possible. We truly hope to see all of there.

Where: Heimhenge in New River. Maps will be mailed to all members.
When: Saturday, June 25th, 3 pm for Asteroids Snooker, 5 pm for hors d'oeuvres and big-screen video.
Video Double Feature: With footage de-classified in 1999, The Atomic Filmmakers (45 min) and Nukes in Space (52 minutes).

Menu: Sloppy Joes w/ pickles, grated cheese, deviled eggs, fruit salad.
Snacks: crackers and cheese, mixed nuts, chips, veggie platter & dip.
Drinks: choice of several beers and wines
Desert: you're just gonna have to attend to find out what you would have missed.

And of course ... popcorn for the movies. If anyone has any room left.

Weather permitting, I'll have the Takahashi tracking Saturn. Sunset is 7:40 pm, at which time Saturn will be elevated 52 degrees in the SSW. The ring system is starting to open nicely.

Please RSVP by June 1st.

Thanks for reading Quid Novi. If you have feedback, you know where to reach me. Until next we meet, clear skies!

Back to Top

Quote of the Month:
“Why don't they make more science fiction movies? The answer to any question starting, 'Why don't they ...' is almost always, 'Money.' ”

Robert A. Heinlein, (while shooting Destination Moon)

Back to Top

Space Debris: Continuing Progress 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 were Raul's son Stephen, and friends Kim, Don, and Rich. Here's Star Veil where we left off last episode ...

Raul has since made significant progress. Below you can see the track and sliding aluminum shutter system he designed and built. The aluminum has a higher friction coefficient than the original stainless steel, but it's much lighter. Lubricants solved the friction problem, and it's rain-tight. He had a few leaks around the dome, but that is being solved by extended vinyl flashing around the perimeter.

Here (through the magic of digital photo retouching) we see the interior "lit up" as though there were interior lighting. You can see the pier in place, as well as an AC outlet for the scope on that pier. Obviously, it's still awaiting the installation of his C-14, but that is pending the solution of all moisture problems. It'll happen soon.

The door is made from a synthetic composite (like many decks) for low maintenance. The pipe-like structure pointing downward (just left of the door) is a routing path for an extension cord reeled up inside. The matching water-tight outside outlet is under that brick. Long story ... but the original design called for a square infrastructure matching the size of the pad. After Raul downsized to the current design, that electrical feed now fell outside the perimeter. This was the simplest solution, as it avoided excavation and another code inspection. It provides power for the dome motor and interior red light.

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, but his current best guess is "sometime in June."

Back to Top