Newsletter of the Desert Foothills Astronomy Club
Issue #59: December 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
Speaker:
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
Fully staffed!
  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 17   6:00 pm - ?   Joint Observing Session with PAS
Setup starts at 6 pm (sunset at 6:30 pm)
Targets: Jupiter, Venus, and a plethora of deep-sky objects (no Moon that night)
  Heimhenge in New River
Map available on request.
Please RSVP if attending.
Mar 21   6:30-8:30 pm   DFAC Lecture Meeting #5
Speaker: Tom Polakis
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, January 18th, 2012
Our next "meeting" is actually an Astronomy Night at NVRL. We owed them a favor, and it saved us the trouble of finding a speaker for that date. As you can see from the DFAC Events section above, that event is now fully staffed. Thanks to Roger Serrato, Jim Renn, Ron Walker, Bob Doerzbacher, and Raul Espinoza for volunteering to bring their scopes. Dan Heim will be bringing astro binocs for the Pleiades, as well as our illuminated donations box and DFAC sign. If anyone else want to attend, it's always good to have a few more people to answer questions or point out constellations. And we will be adjourning to NNY afterward for the usual food and libations.

We'll be setting up on the grassy area just west of the Library entrance. Targets visible that evening: Venus (might be too low), Andromeda Galaxy, Double Cluster, Pleiades, Orion Nebula, Sirius (shows colorful refraction when low), Betelgeuse, no Moon that night.

Backup plans in case of bad weather: Dan will bring a presentation on "What you would have seen tonight if it wasn't cloudy/raining" and NVRL will hold the usual classroom for us at no charge in case we need to do that. Depending on weather, we might still want to set up a scope or two under the protection of the overhang at the entrance to NVRL. Even if all they can see is a distant streetlight, at least that lets our guests look through a telescope at something.

Setup at 6-6:30 pm. Observing ends at 8:30 pm. Hope to see you all there!

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Last Meeting: Wednesday, October 19th, 2011
Our last meeting featured DFAC Treasurer Roger Serrato, with his usual holiday presentation on "Astronomy 101 — How to buy your first scope." We do this every year in the hopes of attracting the general public, as many people are considering telescopes as gifts this time of year. We did, in fact, attract one father and son in that category. Although that was lower-than-average public turnout, we're committed to continuing this presentation each year for the purpose of "public education." Photos by Dan Heim.

Roger began with a discussion of the human eye, its strengths and limitations, and how it interfaces with external optics. It also gave him a chance to talk about the importance of naked eye observing, learning the constellations, and using a planisphere. He pointed out that starting with binoculars and "graduating" to an actual telescope is a good strategy for those new to the hobby.

He explained the concept of magnification, which is often difficult for beginners to understand. Here he compares views of Jupiter at various magnifications, showing the trade-off between size and detail.

We finished a little earlier than usual, giving members the opportunity to ask some followup questions. Here Roger explains the advantges of a Telrad (zero magnification) finder over conventional finders. There was a lot of "show and tell" in his presentation, which is always helpful to beginners in our hobby.

10 members and 2 guests were present. It was a good turnout. Always nice to see new faces.

Dan adjourned the meeting at 8:30 pm, and eight of us met afterward at NNY for food, libations, and the usual great conversations.

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State of DFAC: By Dan Heim, President
Item 1: First and most importantly, my wishes for a joyous and relaxing holiday season. These times can be hectic, and I hope you all get a chance to do some observing. Personally, I find the experience of doing astronomy very Zen-like. Especially when observing alone here at Heimhenge. Although I can usually hear the band playing at the Roadrunner Bar & Grill, it's still a pretty quiet neighborhood around here. And on a good moonless night, I can still get a reading over 20 with my SQM.

Item 2: Speaking of which, you might have noticed we added an event to our calendar for Saturday, March 17th. This will be a joint observing session with PAS (who typically fields 5-6 scopes). They'll be car-pooling where possible, as parking space at Heimhenge is limited to about 10 vehicles. DFAC doesn't do nearly as much group observing as the other clubs, but we try to do at least one each year, even if it doesn't always come together. So this is your opportunity for some good observing conditions and observational camaraderie. Please RSVP and consider carpooling with another member if possible. If you need a map, let me know.

Item 3: And speaking of group observing, the final public outreach session on this season's calendar is a school event in Black Canyon City at Canyon Elementary School. This is a somewhat disadvantaged group of kids, and not the richest school district. The teacher, Trinka Hall, approached SAC for volunteers, and SAC contacted me for additional help. Trinka says to expect 75-80 people (including the parents), so it would be good to have 5-6 scopes up there.

The problem is that April 25th is a Wednesday night, and I know that weekday events can be problematic for many of you. The good new is, since this is a "school night," it'll be a relatively short session. Setup will be 6:30-7:00 pm, sunset 7:00 pm, observing 7:00-8:00 or 8:30 pm (or whenever the kids get tired or too cold). I'll be there, since it's a 15 minute drive from New River, but if we could get two more volunteers with scopes, that would really help. I'll need to clear this with our Treasurer, but I think DFAC should buy any volunteers a burger and drink at the Roadrunner afterward (time permitting).

These will be younger kids, not likely to appreciate most deep-sky targets. But here's what will be up that night: Waxing Crescent Moon, Pleiades, Orion Nebula, Venus, Mars, Saturn (low in east). I'll put out an "official" call for volunteers in March, since the event is still 5 months off, but if you think you might be able to help out, put it on your calendar and let me know. It's an easy-to-reach venue, just off I-17 at Exit 242. I also have a map that will help you find the school. Thanks!

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:
“The earth is simply too small and fragile a basket for the human race to keep all its eggs in.”

Sir Arthur C. Clarke

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Space Debris: Journey, by Raul Espinoza
As many of you know, DFAC member Raul Espinoza is also an accomplished artist. If you've been to his home, you've seen some of the paintings he's done. Below is a photo of a recent impressionistic work titled "Journey." Some of the symbolism is obvious, others less so. If anything stumps you, feel free to ask Raul about it. He's always happy to talk about his pieces. Enjoy!

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