Newsletter of the Desert Foothills Astronomy Club
Issue #64: May 1st, 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
β€” 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)
  Cancelled due to weather.
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
This event is now fully staffed.
  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, May 16, 2012
Our next meeting will be the annual Business Meeting. This includes open discussion of any DFAC business, a Treasurer's Report from Roger Serrato, election of club officers for the 2012-2013 season, and setting the dates and venues for our usual 3 Summer Socials. These meetings typically end a bit earlier than our nominal 8:30 pm, allowing us a longer time at Rookie's afterward.

Doors open at 6 pm, the meeting will run from 6:30-8:30 pm. Arrive early for a good seat [as if these Business Meetings are crowded]. Hope to see you all there!

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Last Meeting: Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Our last meeting featured DFAC member Scott Rohrer, who presented some astronomy apps that run on the iOS (Apple operating system). Scott was filling in for Steve Coe of SAC who was originally scheduled but had to cancel. We appreciated Scott's willingness to step up with an informative and entertaining presentation. All photos by Roger Serrato, DFAC Treasurer.

VP Jim Renn presided over this meeting. Dan Heim was "homebound" pet-sitting his new dog while wife Sandi visited family in Minnesota. Jim opened the meeting to a smaller-than-usual group.

Scott took center stage with his opening slide, showing the 5 apps he was going to demonstrate. He had his iPad patched through Dan's LCD projector (which Roger had picked up for the meeting). Worked nicely, as you can see, via a special VGA adapter cable Scott had found on eBay.

An app called SkySafari was the featured software. It's a very popular app that comes in either a basic version ($1.99), or the Pro version ($39.99) which Scott had. The Pro version sports an extended database and more functionality. Of course, the really cool thing about SkySafari, and most astronomy apps, is that they pull input from the hardware itself. That includes the system clock, GPS, inertial sensors, and compass.

See? It's a functioning compass! Here's some other photos showing various interesting features ...

ISS tracking capability, both user-centric and global, is available.

The Moon can be displayed as you see it in the sky, with prominent features labeled. Labels can be turned on or off. Of course you can zoom in or out as desired.

This is only one of many informational displays you can pull up. Rise time, set time, and elevation are provided for objects of interest.

And ... there's a cool "night vision" mode where all info is displayed in astronomy-friendly red. Brightness is user-adjustable. Scott gave an excellent presentation on what's available for the iOS, but noted there are other astronomy apps with similar capabilities than run on other operating systems. Many thanks to Scott for filling in as speaker. He's quite adept with technology, and taught the other (older) members much about what can be done these days with the latest hardware and software.

Jim adjourned the meeting with the usual meteoric impact. Thanks to Jim for filling in for our home-bound President.

And thanks to Raul for parting the waters. This small but dedicated group of members retired to Rookie's for the usual post-meeting gathering. A good time was had by all. Except Dan.

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State of DFAC: By Dan Heim, President
Item 1: First, and most importantly, we have some crucial club business to discuss. This will also be a topic during our upcoming May Business Meeting. My call for someone to replace Jim Renn as VP has to date gone unanswered. Even though you'd get an unlimited supply of these cool DFAC business cards at no cost.

To reiterate: Jim Renn will be stepping down from his position as DFAC VP due to other obligations. He will continue his membership. The primary responsibilities of this VP position are filling in for your President when he can't make it to the meeting (a rare occurrence), and scheduling our guest speakers for the DFAC Lecture Series. Given that I usually kick off the season with my "Light Pollution Update" presentation (and I'll have a LOT to say about electronic billboards by then), Roger Serrato does his traditional November "Astronomy 101" presentation, and May is our Business Meeting, this involves finding only 5 speakers each season (4 if the NVRL Astronomy Night becomes a tradition, which it well might).

I have a list of potential speakers, with contact info, that serves as a starting point. Of course, DFAC members can always suggest other speakers to add to that list. If you want to run for this position, see the "job description" as outlined in our Constitution below. Please let me know of your interest as soon as possible. We will vote on Jim's replacement at our Business Meeting this May 16th.

Constitution.doc (27 k.)
Constitution.pdf (19k)

So let's consider this "last call" for a VP, as elections are less than 3 weeks away. Now please continue reading. Item 2 is very important.

Item 2: If we don't get someone to run for VP, the nature of DFAC will necessarily change. Allow me to expand on that. As your President (among other things), here's what I have to do ...

  • coordinate events with other clubs, schools, church groups, scout troops, etc., and soliciting DFAC members to volunteer for these events
  • act as webmaster and editor, two jobs I think are inextricably intertwined given our newsletter is electronic
  • act as ALCor for the Astronomical League, updating our roster quarterly, and serving as their point of contact
  • provide the multimedia equipment needed by our guest speakers at NVRL (at least a projector, and more often a laptop)
  • represent our mutual interests in the fight against light pollution, on government committees like MAG, and with communications to media, legislators, and DFAC members
  • a whole bunch of other stuff I won't bore you with, but which nonetheless comes with the Presidency

In addition to the above, due to the time constraints of our VP, I've been in charge of scheduling speakers for our Lecture Series. Not all, of course, but most. Bottom line is ... this cannot continue. I've got a day job too, and absolutely need more discretionary time in my schedule. This is why it's crucial we get a VP who has the time to fulfill all duties as described in our Constitution. Here is the text:

ARTICLE 2: Officers and Duties

b. Vice President: The Vice President shall assist the President in the performance of all duties, and assume responsibility for those duties should the President be unable to do so. The Vice President will maintain and a list of potential speakers for our Lecture Series, contact and schedule those speakers, ensure the necessary multimedia equipment is available for each speaker, and coordinate honoraria as needed with the Treasurer.

And just to make it clear, that part about "ensure the necessary multimedia equipment ..." involves asking each speaker what their multimedia needs are for their presentation (LCD projector, laptop, outboard speakers, 35 mm slide projector, etc.). If the new VP has access to any of this stuff, cool. If not, communicate those requirements to me and I'll make it happen. I have access to pretty much anything a speaker would need, including an overhead transparency projector (yes, they still exist).

So here's what I think will have to happen if nobody steps up to fill the VP position ...

DFAC drops its Lecture Series at NVRL and becomes a "less formal" organization. We'd still do Astronomy Nights for others. We'd still do our own observation sessions (which we need to do more of). We'd still do our Summer Socials. We could still meet monthly at Rookie's for discussion and socializing (or at a member's home). And maybe we'd even do some of those field trips we've discussed (which I just don't have the time to coordinate). We might even still have the occasional special speaker (like Fr. Chris Corbally, S.J., from the Vatican Observatory), and rent the room at NVRL on an as-needed basis. The actual way DFAC will change is, of course, open for discussion, and on the agenda for our Business Meeting.

Bottom line is this ... the nature of any club must be determined by its members. This is not "my" club, and as we add members and evolve, so must DFAC. The future of DFAC is in your hands. Which way we go will depend entirely on feedback received before our Business Meeting. As I always say at the end of this section, you know where to find me.

Item 3: As far as I know, all other Officers are remaining in their positions. That includes Roger Serrato as Treasurer, Jay Chatzkel as Media Liaison, and Scott Loucks as Newsgroup Moderator. And of course, yours truly as President/Editor/Webmaster. Thanks to all, as well as to 6-year VP Jim Renn, for your dedication to DFAC. Our club is alive and well because of your efforts.

Item 4: DFAC will be holding its traditional Summer Social series. In June, we'll be at Heimhenge for more Asteroids Snooker (and other goodies). July will be hosted by the Ron Walker Cineplex, feature movies yet to be announced. August is wide open, and available should any member like to host an event. No dates have been set. August, in the past, had been hosted by Jim & Jean Renn, but they'd prefer to do a Holiday Social in December this time around. So if you're interested in doing something for the club in August, let me know and I'll get it on our calendar. A "pot luck" would be fine ... the format is totally up to the hosts(s). You wouldn't really need to set a date for a couple months, but it would be good to at least get the venue decided.

Item 5: DFAC member Jim Renn would like to start a discussion group on the topic of "science and religion." Several members have already expressed interest, myself included, and several such discussions have already occurred (at Rookie's after our meetings, and at our Summer Socials). For your "homework," just to provide some context and content to get the discussion rolling, Jim recommends the book God's Mechanics by Br. Guy Consolmagno. You can read a synopsis of the book (and order it) here. Although the details have yet to be worked out, and depend on the level of interest, this would be a monthly discussion group that meets at Jim's home in Anthem, starting perhaps later this Summer or early Fall. If you are interested in participating, email Jim at:

Item 6: [repeat from last month] 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.

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:
[I've reached the end of my collection of "astronomy-related quotations," after 6 years! So I here include one of my own, inspired perhaps by reading A Canticle for Liebowitz, recommended to me by VP Jim Renn.]

β€œFar off in the future, perhaps when printed and bound books have been all but replaced by electronic storage systems, there will still exist a Catalog of Forbidden Books. It will contain a single entry ... itself.”

β€” Daniel A. Heim (1992 prediction)

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Space Debris: The Dunn Solar Telescope
This just in from DFAC member Scott Rohrer. The link below will take you an informative article about the Dunn Solar Telescope in southern New Mexico. If you're ever in the area, it's a worthwhile side-trip off the main drag, open to the public, and an historic astronomical site.

And this just in from Mark Bosley. If you're looking for some good solar-rated shades for the upcoming annular/partial (depending where you are) eclipse, as well as the Venus transit, check out:

Rainbow Symphony has a sale on their eclipse shades. They are 40 cents a piece! However, minimum order is 100. Maybe you could share an order with your favorite school? Mark's review follows:

I bought 100 from Rainbow Symphony when we went to China for the 2008 eclipse. I like them much better than mylar. The Sun does look orange (which it is). Lenses are made from an exclusive scratch resistant optical density 5 "Black Polymer" material. They filter out 100% of harmful ultraviolet, 100% of harmful infrared, and 99.999% of visible light. These premium filters produce a sharper image of the Sun.

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