Newsletter of the Desert Foothills Astronomy Club
Issue #58: November 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 2011-2012:
Date   Time   Event   Location
Sep 21   6:30-8:30 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #1
Speaker: Dr. Ted Dunham, Lowell Observatory
Topic: The Kepler Space Telescope and the Search for Exoplanets
  North Valley Regional Library
40410 North Gavilan Peak Parkway
Anthem, AZ 85086
Oct 15   6:00-9:00 pm   Astronomy Night at Corona Ranch Resort
Setup 5:30-6:00 pm, observing 6-9 pm
Post-event details TBA
  Corona Ranch Resort
7611 S. 29th Ave
Laveen, AZ 885339
Oct 19   6:30-8:30 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #2
Howard Israel, Phoenix IDA rep
Topic: Light Pollution Update
The IDA's Perspective
  North Valley Regional Library
40410 North Gavilan Peak Parkway
Anthem, AZ 85086
Nov 16   6:30-8:30 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #3
Speaker: Roger Serrato, DFAC
Topic: Astronomy 101 (How to Buy Your First Telescope)
  North Valley Regional Library
40410 North Gavilan Peak Parkway
Anthem, AZ 85086
Jan 18   6:30-8:30 pm   Astronomy Night at NVRL (takes the place of our regularly scheduled meeting)
Setup 6:00-6:30 pm, observing 6:30-8:30 pm
Volunteers still needed
  North Valley Regional Library
40410 North Gavilan Peak Parkway
Anthem, AZ 85086
Feb 15   6:30-8:30 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #4
Speaker: Fr. William Stoeger, S.J., Vatican Observatory
Topic: Cosmology
  North Valley Regional Library
40410 North Gavilan Peak Parkway
Anthem, AZ 85086
Mar 21   6:30-8:30 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #5
Speaker: Tom Polakis, EVAC & SAC
Topic: Atacama Astronomy
  North Valley Regional Library
40410 North Gavilan Peak Parkway
Anthem, AZ 85086
Apr 18   6:30-8:30 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #6
Speaker: TBA
Topic: TBA
  North Valley Regional Library
40410 North Gavilan Peak Parkway
Anthem, AZ 85086
Apr 25   7:30-9:00 pm   Astronomy Night at Canyon Elementary School
Setup 6:30-7:00 pm, sunset 7:00 pm, observing 7:00-
8:00 or 8:30 pm
Volunteers still needed
  Canyon Elementary School
34630 S. School Loop Road
Black Canyon City, AZ 85324
May 16   6:30-8:30 pm   DFAC Business Meeting
Speakers: Dan Heim & Roger Serrato
Agenda: DFAC Business & Officer Elections
  North Valley Regional Library
40410 North Gavilan Peak Parkway
Anthem, AZ 85086

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Next Meeting: Wednesday, November 16th, 2011
Our next Lecture Series meeting is November 16th. Our Speaker will be DFAC Treasurer Roger Serrato. This will be his annual pre-holiday presentation titled Astronomy 101, including a "how to buy your first telescope" lesson for those considering a holiday purchase. This lecture is designed for beginners in our hobby, as it usually attracts interest from the public at large. Still, even for us "pros" Roger always has some good tips on equipment and techniques.

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

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Last Meeting: Wednesday, October 19th, 2011
Our last meeting featured Howard Israel, Phoenix area rep for the IDA. Originally scheduled to talk about "light pollution," Howard decided there just wasn't that much new to report. Instead, he gave one of his many popular presentations from the cruise ship lecture circuit. The topic: We're All Made of Stardust — The Life Cycle of Stars. Dan began the meeting with some club business about upcoming events (see State of DFAC), a quick review of the Galactic Gavel genesis, and then introduced Howard. Photos by Roger Serrato.

Howard began his presentation with the intriguing question "Where did the atoms in your body come from?" He began his answer with a review of since-debunked theories of stellar and planetary genesis, and then explained the current proto-planetary disc model. From there, he launched into a discussion of stellar nucleosynthesis, basically covering the birth, life, and death of stars.

The following 2 images are slides from Howard's presentation. The first shows the Orion Nebula as a classic example of a "stellar nursery." The second is a supernova in the LMC that was recorded by the HST in 2007. For elements heavier than iron, nucleosynthesis requires the energy released by such massive explosions.

We finished a little earlier than usual, giving members the opportunity to ask some followup questions. Howard handled them all, and threw in some additional info about the prospects for intelligent life on other planets. The recent profusion of exoplanet discoveries (see last month's review of Dr. Ted Dunham's presentation) certainly modifies the factors in the Drake Equation.

10 members and 4 guests were present. It was a good turnout. Always nice to see new faces.

Dan adjourns the meeting at 8:15 pm with the usual nickel-iron to aluminum impact.

Special thanks to Jean Renn for providing a last-minute laptop for our speaker. Signals got crossed, and our speaker's presentation was on a thumb drive. The Library couldn't help, but Jean could. After the meeting was adjourned, 6 members and 4 guests retired to Native New Yorker for further discussion, libations, and the usual great food. Dave Beams, who missed the meeting, caught up with us there. DFAC picked up the tab for members who participated in our Astronomy Night event at Corona Ranch Resort (see Space Debris).

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State of DFAC: By Dan Heim, President
Item 1: [repeated from last month] Scott Loucks suggested we push strongly for all members (at least those who are online) join the newsgroup he moderates for DFAC. He points out that, for organizing astronomy events, it would be far superior to email chains, and a central repository for event information. We could even run a poll regarding where we want to eat/drink after the event. Makes total sense to me. So how about it, members? Signing up is easy. Simply visit: to create a Yahoo account (if you don't already have one), then go to and start participating. It would be great if all DFAC members were onboard there, and save me a lot of email time. And there's also some good discussion threads you might want to participate in. Scott has made signing up and participating about as easy as it can be. Thanks!

Item 2: With our successful October 15 event at Corona Ranch Resort now history, it comes time to solicit volunteers for the Jan 18 event at NVRL. This will be a public Astronomy Night that takes the place of our regularly scheduled Lecture Series meeting. We won't make any money at this one, but the Library says it's OK to put out our "donations box," so we might get a little something for our treasury. We're doing this mainly as a favor to NVRL, who has made our speaker scheduling process simpler with a change of their policy.

We'll be setting up on the grassy area just west of the Library. There will be some lighting issues, but not as bad as it was at Corona Ranch Resort. We also lose a little sky to building heights, but still have many good targets for the evening. Those include: Jupiter, Pleiades, Double Cluster, Andromeda Galaxy, Orion Nebula. So with my astro binocs for the Pleiades, that means we'll only need 4-5 scopes. Setup is 6:00-6:30 pm, observing from 6:30-8:30 pm. The Library tells me to expect 40-50 people.

So this is the official call for volunteers. If you want to attend without a scope, please do. Always good to have extra people around to answer questions, hand out club brochures, and keep an eye on the donation box. Otherwise I'll be handling those duties. And we will be adjourning to Native New Yorker afterward as usual. Please let me know if you can help out at this event. Thanks in advance!

And 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:
“In 1911 the little town of Nakhla in Egypt was the scene of one of the most remarkable events in history when a chunk of rock fell from the sky and killed a dog. This is the only known canine fatality caused by a cosmic object. Improbable though this encounter was already, its truly extraordinary nature was revealed only decades later when scientists found that the culprit was not a common meteorite, but a piece of the planet Mars.”

Paul Davies, "The Fifth Miracle - The Search for the Origin of Life"

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Space Debris: Astronomy Night at Corona Ranch Resort
On Saturday, October 15th, DFAC did an Astronomy Night at Corona Ranch Resort at Baseline & 29th Avenue. It was a bit of a drive, but we had been contracted for $100 per telescope, so it was well worth the effort to feed our treasury. We were assisted by PAS, who fielded 3 scopes to bring the total to the requested 10.

We were able to deploy our scopes on a flat and level concrete patio area. That advantage was somewhat offset by light pollution from the resort, but by the time guests arrived we had at least a few targets to show them. Those included the Double Cluster, Albireo, Jupiter, the Sagittarius Star Cloud, and a (late rising) gibbous Moon.

Here we are, fully deployed and waiting for customers.

The resort was hosting a convention of graphic design artists from around the country. With their eye for aesthetics, they appreciated the views. Not surprisingly, Jupiter and the Moon were the highlights of the show. Many of the guests resided in large cities, and many remarked how "I had no idea such cool things were up there."

Part of the deal (for DFAC volunteers) was that DFAC would pick up the tab at Native New Yorker after our next meeting. And so we did. Even with that tab, our treasury netted a cool $500+. Many thanks to all those who volunteered, and to PAS for their assistance.

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