Newsletter of the Desert Foothills Astronomy Club
Issue #18: November 5th, 2007
About Quid Novi
State of DFAC
Quote of the Month
Contact the Editor: Dan Heim, phone: 623.465.7307 or email:
|DFAC Events for 2007-2008:|
|Sep 26||7:00 pm - 9:00 pm||DFAC Lecture Meeting #1||Boulder Creek High School, 40404 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086|
|Oct 31||7:00 pm - 9:00 pm||DFAC Lecture Meeting #2||Boulder Creek High School, 40404 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086|
|Nov 3-4||2:00 pm - overnight||A Night Under the Stars||Alamo State Park|
|Nov 26||6:00 pm - 9:00 pm||Way Cool Science Night||Horseshoe Trails Elementary School, 5405 E. Pinnacle Vista Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85262 (read more below)|
|Nov 28||7:00 pm - 9:00 pm||DFAC Lecture Meeting #3||Boulder Creek High School, 40404 North Gavilan Peak Parkway, Anthem, AZ 85086|
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|State of DFAC: By Dan Heim, President|
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|Last Meeting: Wednesday, October 31st, 2007|
|Our second lecture of the 2007-2008
season featured local expert, and SAC co-founder, Gene
Lucas speaking on the topic of binocular astronomy. Gene
has been a fixture in Valley astronomy for decades, with
experience across the astronomy spectrum (pun intended).
Some months ago, up at Blue Hills Observatory, he offered
to do a presentation for DFAC. We took him up on that
offer this season.
Dan started the meeting by blessing all the binoculars in attendance. Actually, this was just a bad pose Roger caught when shooting pics for Quid Novi. After a small amount of club business, not the least of which was an announcement that DFAC was now a member of the IDA, he turned the meeting over to Gene.
Gene had some 19 pairs of binocs displayed for show & tell, including some cool 25x100s (visible at right). He spoke about the historical development of binocular optics, their evolution over the last 200 years, and many obscure details about binocular optics and applications. He never ceases to amaze with his encyclopedic knowledge in virtually all areas of astronomy. He also brought along a stack of useful reference books and charts that work well with binocular observing. His presentation was punctuated by many questions and comments from the audience. His goal was to convince us that one can do real astronomy with binocs, and in that he succeeded well. He also had some useful advice for novices, primarily "forego the apartment store refractor, and spend your money on some decent binocs, at least 7x50s, and learn the sky at low mag first."
Here you see just a few of the binocs Gene brought with him. They were all passed around the room for inspection. The people at this table deserve some note. At left, Keith Parizek, also a long-time fixture in Valley astronomy, who lives near Gene and carpooled to our meeting. It was at Keith's home in Paradise Valley, way back in 1980, that this astronomer was first introduced to the Valley astronomy scene. What followed was my 20+ years of involvement with PAS, until the eventual founding of DFAC. Keith was President of the Phoenix Observatory Association back in the 60's, and later served an extended tour as PAS Treasurer. At right is yet another icon of the Valley astronomy community, Raul Espinoza, 1984 PAS President, who in a cosmic example of synchronicity (or karma?) will soon be a member of the club I'm privileged to preside over. At middle is Jim Walborn, local science promoter and astronomy enthusiast. I met Jim through the Kiwanis Science Fair at Cactus Shadows High School. Jim joined DFAC at this meeting. Lest I seem remiss, in the background are DFAC charter members Bob Biegler and Scott Loucks.
Here Jim tries out Gene's vintage WWII Japanese trench binoculars. Jim complained that he could only get channel 3.
Member George Kantarges (right) tries out one of Gene's mini-binocs. George brought his misaligned 7x50s, and was finally able to get an answer to his re-collimation question: bottom line, it would cost more to repair them than to buy a new set. My suggestion ... give them to Goodwill and at least take a tax write-off. Or donate them to a school .. they'll probably never notice the misalignment. At left is one of several guests from the Anthem / Tramonto area who came to check us out. Our meetings are always open to the public, and we welcome all who share our interest in astronomy!
Attendance at this meeting was 13 (4 members and nine guests - three of whom are now new members). BCHS students were conspicuously absent, likely due to the fact that this was also Halloween night. The meeting adjourned at 9:15 pm.
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|Next Meeting: Wednesday, November 28th, 2007|
|Our November Lecture features Science
Teacher Kathy Hill (and two of her students) from Boulder
Creek High School. Kathy and her team were selected to
work on NASA's Phoenix Mars Mission, on course to arrive
at the Red Planet about seven months from now. You can
read the official press release on this collaborative
Kathy and her students will talk about their experiences to date in this ongoing project. If you're not familar with the Phoenix Mars Mission, check it out here: http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu/
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|Quote of the Month:|
|"After I give
lectures - on almost any subject - I am often asked, 'Do
you believe in UFOs?' I'm always struck by how the
question is phrased, the suggestion that this is a matter
of belief and not evidence. I'm almost never asked, 'How
good is the evidence that UFOs are alien
Carl Sagan, "The Demon Haunted World"
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|Dan & Sandi Heim, their dogs Astro
and Beta, and Roger Serrato headed up to Alamo State Park
50 miles NW of Wickenburg on Saturday, November 3rd. The
park was hosting an Astronomy Night for all AZ clubs in
celebration of their 50th anniversary, and we decided
this was a good opportunity to see some really dark skies
(and get in a little camping).
Two images were spliced together here to provide a wide view of Alamo Lake. It's a popular state park in this area, with plenty of campsites, several boat ramps, good fishing, and dark skies.
Camping would be better in a trailer or RV, as the ground is rock hard. We got our tents pitched, but bent several stakes in the process.
There were about a hundred people present for the daytime festivities. Verde Valley Astronomy Club had a booth set up. Dan made contact with JD Maddy (of VVAC), who may be filling in that last slot as our speaker for the April DFAC meeting. JD and I have had several discussions on the AZ-Observing list server.
This is the handout Alamo provided for guests. Inside is a checklist of astronomical objects they hope to see.
Page 2 of same.
Embry-Riddle had a team of robotics specialists there to give a presentation on their robotics program.
Lowell Observatory sent two interns down to give a presentation on how to make a comet (the usual dry ice + H2O demo).
Educational displays were all around. A lot of work went into this event. Congrats and thanks to Park Superintendent Elizabeth Enriquez for organizing and planning "A Night Under The Stars." There were around 15-20 scopes deployed. Sunset was 5:30 pm, and with the clear sky, it cooled off rapidly. A small amount of haze from CA fires seemed to be present all night, but it was nonetheless dark with excellent seeing.
As sunset approached, Roger and I kicked back for a cigar and beer. All we need now is darkness.
Dan observes Comet Holmes through binocs. It was an easy naked-eye object, and looked even better with some magnification.
Roger brought his 8" Celestron CAT along. At 200x, Comet Holmes showed filamentary detail in the coma, and a bright nucleus.
Phoenix is about 100 miles (as the buzzard flies) from Alamo Lake. Comet Holmes and M31 were visible to the naked eye. The skies were indeed dark, yet the sky glow from Phoenix was still visible. This 10 second exposure captures about how it looked to the eye. It exemplifies the far-reaching impact of light pollution.
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