Newsletter of the Desert Foothills Astronomy Club
Issue #62: March 5th, 2012
          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
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: Big Bang Cosmology, Quantum Cosmology, and the Philosophical Idea of Creation
  North Valley Regional Library
40410 North Gavilan Peak Parkway
Anthem, AZ 85086
Mar 01   7:30-9:00 pm   PAS Special Meeting
Speaker: William K. Hartmann
Topic: Origin of the Moon
  Paradise Valley Community College
SE corner of Union Hills & 32nd Street
Building Q, Room 120A & B
Map available
Mar 02   6:00-8:30 pm   Astronomy Night at Archway Classical Academy
Setup starts at 6 pm (sunset at 6:30 pm)
Targets: Gibbous Moon, Jupiter, Venus, and a few good deep-sky objects
Fully staffed!
  Archway Classical Academy
7496 E. Tierra Buena Ln., Scottsdale, AZ.
Map available
Mar 17   6:00 pm - ?   Joint Observing Session with PAS
Setup starts at 6 pm (sunset at 6:30 pm)
Targets: Jupiter, Venus, Mars, Saturn, 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: Scott Rohrer
Topic: Astronomy Apps on the iOS
  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
1-2 volunteers still needed ...
  Canyon Elementary School
34630 S. School Loop Road
Black Canyon City, AZ 85324
Map available
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, March 21st, 2012
Our March speaker will be local astrophotographer Tom Polakis, who has spoken to us before. This time his topic will be "Atacacma Astronomy." Tom and wife Jennifer recently returned from a sojourn to Chile, where they traveled the high (14 kft +) Atacama Desert, and toured some of the world-class observatories there. He'll explain why this is the best site on the planet for astronomy, and what new telescopes are in the pipeline.

Tom has been an amateur astronomer for more than one revolution of Saturn. His main interests are deep-sky observing, camera-and-tripod sky photography, and astronomical travel. He writes for Astronomy magazine, where he is a Contributing Editor.

Doors open at 6 pm, the meeting will run from 6:30-8:30 pm. Get there early for a good seat. Hope to see you all there!

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Last Meeting: Wednesday, February 15th, 2012
Our last meeting featured Fr. William Stoeger, S.J., of the Vatican Observatory. His topic was: Big Bang Cosmology, Quantum Cosmology, and the Philosophical Idea of Creation. It was a fascinating look into some of the biggest questions in astronomy research. All photos by Terri Finch, Phoenix Astronomical Society,

Dan opened the meeting with the Galactic Gavel, taking time to explain to all the new faces just what it was, and where it came from. He rushed through club business, and the usual officer introductions, to give our eminent guest speaker the maximum amount of time possible.

Fr. Stoeger waits patiently for his invitation to the lectern. [That's Dan's empty camera case behind him, which is why these photos are all courtesy of Terri. Thanks you!].

Fr. Stoeger proceeded with his talk, pausing to answer questions. He began with an overview of what we know about the Creation Event (Big Bang) — and what we don't know. Dwelling on the emergence of structure (both inorganic and organic), he emphasized how Science and Religion are complementary views of evolution in the cosmos. When he moved on to Quantum Mechanics, he made the profound assertion that the Big Bang was not necessarily the same as the Creation Event. Rather, Creation included the establishment of the laws of Quantum Mechanics, which were a prerequisite of the Big Bang ... a mind-boggling concept.

We had time for about 20 minutes of Q&A afterward, during which time Fr. Stoeger fielded some tough questions, some of which came from the younger students in the crowd. Speaking of which, this event was standing room only, with a total of 72 people in attendance (two of which have since become DFAC members). That was a new club record. My apologies to those who had to stand. My thanks to all who attended. And our special thanks to Fr. Stoeger, who traveled all the way from Tucson to be with us.

We adjourned at 8:45 pm to Rookies Neighborhood Sports Bar & Grill (henceforth RNSB&G). Service was excellent, food was good. They'll likely become our default post-meeting hangout. Hope to see more of you there after our March meeting. There's a good chance that Tom & Jennifer Polakis will join us. Of course, their tab will be on us (split by DFAC members attending).

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State of DFAC: By Dan Heim, President
Item 1: Who did this ad in In&Out of Anthem? DFAC sent the usual text ad, but didn't send this. Apparently, some DFAC member composed and paid for this quarter-page ad. I have a pretty good idea who's responsible for this, but since I was not informed, I'll respect anonymity. But I do want to thank that member for his generosity. No doubt it attracted additional guests for our February 15th meeting with Fr. Stoeger.

Item 2: [repeat from last month] 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 two each year, even if it doesn't always come together. So this is your opportunity for some good observing conditions (still over 20 on my SQM) and observational camaraderie. Please RSVP and consider carpooling with another member if possible. If you need a map, let me know.

Item 3: [repeat from last month] 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. DFAC will buy any volunteers a burger and drink at the Roadrunner afterward (time permitting). And I'm willing to carpool with any local DFAC member(s).

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). This is the "official" call for volunteers. 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. Here's the map to help you find the school. Thanks!

Item 4: Several members have emailed me regarding plans for the May 20th annular eclipse. I know some will be traveling to the Monument Valley area, others to Lake Powell or Bryce Canyon. May 20th is a Sunday, so that makes logistics easier. There are no official club plans for this event. If I go, it'll be to Albuquerque, which is right on the center-line. Plus, that's where my bro lives, so I would combine that with a visit to family. If you haven't seen a map of the eclipse path, check it out here: Zoom and pan as needed.

Item 5: Thanks to those of you who acted my request to contact your legislators regarding HB 2757. As you read in my last email, this bill passed th House and is now in the Senate. The billboard lobby is powerful, and just might succeed in overturning the Arizona Highway Beautification Act. If it passes the Senate Natural Resources and Transportation Committee, which begins deliberation today, we'll have one more chance. That will be contacting our State Senators to voice our opinion. Watch for an email update later this week.

Item 6: Our Astronomy Night at Archway Academy on March 2nd was a resounding success. DFAC received a donation of $240, collected by the 3rd graders who attended. See the photos and writeup on our North Sky News page. Thanks to all those who participated. This could likely become an annual fundraising event. I have to show you two of the "thank you" cards we received from the students.

Note the "not to scale" comment on the first card ... and this from a 3rd-grader! Note also that James included Eris as a member of the solar system. They've obviously been learning some astronomy.

Item 7: Regarding my continuation as President of DFAC ... a good friend from SAC once told me "After 5 years, the founding President needs to step down and let in some new blood." We don't hold our elections until the May Business Meeting, but I thought this was a good time to start talking about it. I'm perfectly willing to continue as Editor and Webmaster, but really need to shed some responsibilities. And so I'm seriuously thinking about not running for DFAC President in the 2012-2013 season. If you want to run for this position, see the "job description" as outlined in our Constitution here:

Constitution.doc (36 k.)
Constitution.pdf (74k)

Truth be told, your President needs a break. I'll talk more about this at our March meeting.

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

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Quote of the Month:
[The following prayer was written by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Jesuit, French philosopher, paleontologist. geologist, and influential thinker. It was intended to be the closing slides for Fr. William Stoeger's presentation, but time was running short. I include it here for your edification and enlightenment.]

Blessed be you, mighty matter, irresistible march of evolution, reality ever new-born; you who by constantly shattering our mental categories, force us to go ever further and further in our pursuit of the truth.

Blessed be you, universal matter, immeasurable time, boundless ether, triple abyss of stars and atoms and generations: you who by overflowing and dissolving our narrow standards of measurement reveal to us the dimensions of God.

Blessed be you, impenetrable matter: you who, interposed between our minds and the world of essences, cause us to languish with the desire to pierce through the seamless veil of phenomena.

Blessed be you, mortal matter: you who one day will undergo the process of dissolution within us and will thereby take us forcibly into the very heart of that which exists.

You who batter us and then dress our wounds,
you who resist and yield to us,
you who wreck and build,
you who shackle and liberate,
the sap of our souls,
the hand of God,
the flesh of Christ:
it is you, matter, that I bless.

I acclaim you as the universal power which brings together and unites, through which the multitudinous monads are bound together and in which they all converge on the way to the spirit.

I acclaim you as the divine milieu, charged with creative power, as the ocean stirred by the Spirit, as the clay moulded and infused with life by the incarnate Word.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955)

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Space Debris: The Vega Science Trust
The link below will take you to an amazing website that hosts an extensive collection of science-related videos. If you have a high-speed internet connection, you could easily spend hours watching some of the classic material they have available for free. I could try to describe it, but just click on the link below to got to their main menu. The Feynman lectures are fascinating!

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