Download PDF version:
The Newsletter of the Ottawa Centre, RASC
|Vol. 13, No. 6 June, 1974|
Editor....... Rolf Meier 77 Meadowlands Dr. W...K2G 2R9
Addresses Earl Dudgeon...545 Bathurst Ave . .K1G 0X4
Circulation...Ted Bean.......399 McLeod Street......K2P 1A5
The center leaf of this issue of Astronotes is an index to the 1970 volume of Astronotes. Subsequent issues will each contain an index for the volumes which follow 1970, up to the index for 1974 which will appear in the December 1974 issue.
The value of an index becomes apparent when you want to find an article you remember having read, and you don’t know where it is. Hopefully, when you look through an index, you will see titles of interesting articles you didn't even know existed, and you may look these up out of curiousity. An index should encourage the continuous use of past issues of Astronotes instead of a single reading when it is received. A member who has built up a collection of Astronotes over the years will find a wealth of reference material. An index provides an orderly means of finding exactly what you want under any topic.
There have been indexes to Astronotes in previous years, and these will not be repeated. The last index appeared in the December 1967 issue when Dan Brunton was the Editor. If there is enough demand, I will compile an index to the 1968 and 1969 volumes, although my collection of 1968 issues is not complete. Since the index to 1970 is in the center leaf, it can be easily removed and placed at the end of your collection of 1970 issues. Notice that this will not effect the normal numbering of the pages in this issue. The articles are arranged by topics which appear in alphabetical order. The articles are in alphabetical order except when it was more practical to put them in chronological order. After the title comes the name of the author, then the month of the issue, and finally the page number. When the name of the author does not appear, it can be assumed that it was written by the Editor; for 1970 it was Tom Tothill.
Now, use your index!
OBSERVER’S GROUP MEETING - MAY 3
About 60 people were present at this meeting, with Ted Bean as Chairman and Karl Poirier as Vice.
Recent Aurora activity was illustrated with slides shown by Rolf Meier and Cathy Hall.
Fred Lossing spoke about the house being built next to North Mountain Observatory, and advised us to cooperate with the owner, since his action will determine whether or not we will retain the observing site. The building the Hubberts are now constructing will be replaced in a few years by another to the south of us. Why don't they leave us alone?
Later on in the meeting, Fred showed slides which included Saturn, M81-82, and a much improved exposure of M51.
Cathy Hall showed the slides she took of Comet Bradfield, the most recent naked-eye comet. Cathy also explained how she had collected the newsletters of other RASC centers and had bound them together for placement in the library.
Rolf Meier showed slides of M101, the Rosette Nebula, and a fabulous shot of the Veil Nebula.
Jack Horwood gave a talk entitled "How Attractive is Attraction?”. In an interesting experiment, he established that Glenn Slover could indeed attain escape velocity on Phobos.
In a few closing words, Ted Bean described the properties of a pitch lap.
SUMMER AT NORTH MOUNTAIN OBSERVATORY
The last few weeks have seen increased attendance at this site, as the fine summer conditions approach. Unfortunately, this means that everybody wants to look through the 16-inch or use it for photography. It would be worthwhile if people brought out their own telescopes for some of the observing, for even a small scope will perform with excellence under the dark skies of North Mountain. There is room for a limited amount of camping, and storage of telescopes. We expect to see a large number of people out there this summer to make use of the facilities. For specific activities, see the article by Cathy Hall elswhere in this issue.
DNA'S BIG GAMBLE
Bill Smythe (London Center, RASC)
Many highly vacuous arguments often result from a disagreement among people as to what the proper "purpose" of a certain thing whould be. This situation arises because this matter of "purpose", unlike matters of technique and results, is a very arbitrary one. Consider the following example: "A chicken produces an egg for the purpose of creating another chicken." The obviousness of this statement is pleasingly deceptive. Frequently the most instructive case, in an instance such as this, is the one that is the least intuitively appealing. Consider this alternative: "A chicken is simply an egg’s way of producing another egg." It is by no means clear which of these two interpretations is the correct one. It depends on which you think is more important - the chicken or the egg.
In any event, consider the latter viewpoint in the context of your own existence as a human organism: You, assuming that you are successful in this business of reproduction, are simply a process whereby your genetic material can produce some more genetic material. There are many reasons why a viewpoint like this seems unattractive.
If you are prepared to consider it, however, you may well wonder why your genetic material (your DNA) has come to proliferate itself in such a complicated and clumsy fashion. Simpler organisms could do the Job equally well, you claim. It is worth considering this argument in a little more detail. The distinguishing characteristic of simpler (i.e. nonhuman) organisms is that, with few exceptions they tend to find their way into living arrangements with fellow creatures and with their environments, that are essentially stable. This has both favourable and unfavourable ramifications for DNA. It means that DNA can proliferate itself with little chance of extinction; but that at some point, when the carrying capacity of this planet is reached, a finite limit will be set on the amount of genetic material that it can maintain.
If we assume that DNA becomes "frustrated" (excuse the anthropomorphism) upon encountering such a barrier, then this situation becomes clearly undesirable. DNA must find another alternative.
Consider the species Man: Here is a creature whose overwhelming tendency is (often without explicit intention) to disrupt stable eco-systems. Left to his own devices (which unfortunately he is) man can be expected to overshoot this planet's carrying capacity on some vital parameter, resulting in global instability, high death rates for many organisms, and thus DNA’s investment in mankind seems even more curious. However, consider one of man’s more redeeming characteristics: his enormous curiousity. This curiousity has, in our lifetime, led to space travel. Perhaps someday (DNA hopes) it will lead to extraterrestrial colonization. If this happens, DNA will then have attained a condition of virtually unlimited restraints on its proliferation. If this does not occur, DNA will then have to suffer the aversive consequences of taking this risk on the human species.
In effect, one can suppose that DNA is making a "wager" with the universe on somewhat uncertain odds, that man will develop space colonization before he destroys himself.
As an amateur astronomer, it probably makes some sense to keep in mind the gamble tha DNA has made on people like yourself.
(The preceding article appeared in the January-February issue of "London RASC News", the newsletter of the London Center of the RASC. - Ed.)
EXOBIOLOGY (OR THE STUDY OF LITTLE GREEN MEN)
by Randy Rosenfeld
Most of you have probably heard of the word "exobiology", somewhere cryptically mentioned, and have no doubt drawn the conclusion that the word is associated with exo-bedbugs. Not a bad guess, but rather off the mark.
Exobiology is the study of, or right now, of evidence for, extra-terrestrial life. It has been assumed by now that there is, indeed, life out there. What gives scientists evidence of this is the molecules being discovered in the inter-stellar medium which are basic to life as we know it.
These molecules are detected by way of the radio telescope and include a whole family of molecules based on carbon or carbon-oxygen (CO) bonds. In addition, Amino acids (right hand and left) have been found in molecular clouds.
All of this evidence seems very convincing and would seem to leave no doubt in our minds that we are not alone in the Universe. If we were to make contact with a more intelligent civilization, or one at our own stage of development, it would have to be by way of our old friend the radio telescope.
There have been a couple of attempts at this, all of which have produced negative results. This dosen’t mean that there is no intelligent life out there. The results of these surveys are probably so because only a few stars were checked, out of the possible billions, and the radio time allotted for these projects amounted to at the most eight hours for each survey.
Maybe if there was a regular program devoted to this at one or more of the major observatories, we would meet with more success.
Another exciting aspect of exobiology is that of meeting face to antenna with an alien civilization. The only way we could accomplish this is to go outside of our Solar System and into our galaxy. This would require a practical form of inter-stellar travel, which we don’t posses at the present time (and it is doubtful if we will aquire it in the forseeable future). There has also been a search for life locally, and this will continue when the Viking space probe lands on Mars in 1975 (hopefully). This probe will be equipped with life-detecting devices, capable of picking up samples for chemical analysis. Chances are that if we find anything on Mars, it will be a green lichen, or even more likely, a bacterial form of life.
Oh well, until we do make contact with an extraterrestrial civilization, or lichen, we will have to be content with just listening to interstellar molecular clouds sailing through the ether.
Since this is the last issue until the fall, I thought I would provide a list of the planned activities for the summer months ahead. These consist of meteor shower observing at Quiet Site and star parties at North Mountain. Please let Rolf Meier or myself know about a week ahead the activity you are interested in, just in case you are not on our phone list. Rides can be arranged.
There will also usually be someone observing every clear night that is not too hazy, foggy, or influenced by the moon. Keyholders who head out to North Mountain often are Rolf Meier (224-1200), Dr. Lossing (733-2715), myself (825-1628), Rob Dick (722-5809), Ted Bean (233-8856), and Glenn Slover (225-3290). Those with access to the Quiet Site include Chris Martin (236-2868), Dave Paterson (733-4201), Les MacDonald (225-1140), Rolf Meier, Rob Dick, and myself. Rides can probably be obtained by phoning one of these individuals. Contributions towards gasoline will always be appreciated.
In the following list, coordinates refer to the point in the sky that the meteors seem to come from; number of days refers to the duration of the shower.
2 Zeta Draconids; 22 days; 17h 9m; 66°N
6 Arietids; 22 days; 3h; 23°N; daylight
Zeta Perseids; 20 days; 4h 8m; 24 N; daylight
9 Bootids; 1 day; 14h 42m; 45°N
Librids; 1 day; 15h 6m; 28°S
14 Alpha Scorpiids; 14 days; 18h; 30°S
15 Lyrids; 10 days; 18h 32m; 35°N; favourable; blue meteors
20 Ophiuchids; 10 days; 17h 20m; 20°S; favourable
21 Star party; June 22 alternate date if 21st cloudy
26 Corvids; 4 days; 13h 8m; 19°S
28 Draconids; 4 days; 14h 20m; 55°N
Beta Taurids; 14 days; 5h 48m; 23° N; daylight
l9 Star party; July 20 alternate date if 19th cloudy
25 Capricornids; 45 days; 21h; 15°S; bright meteors; favourable
26 Theta Aquilids; 6 days; 19h 56m; 3°S
29 Delta Aquarids; 30 days; 22h 36m; 17°S; double radiant; fairly favourable
31 Pisces Australids; 35 days; 22h 40m; 30°S
2 Alpha Capricornids; 30 days; 20h 32m; 10°S; yellow fireballs
3 N. Delta Aquarids; 30 days; 22h 28m; 0°
6 N. Iota Aquarids; 40 days; 22h 4m; 6°S
12 Perseids; 25 days; 3h 4m; 58°; bright fragmenting meteors with trains
16 Psi Aurigids; 45 days; 6h 21m; 51°N
Star party; Aug 17 alternate date if 16th cloudy
18 Cepheids; 40 days; 20h 30m; 64°N
20 Kappa Cygnids; 5 days 19h 20m; 55°N; exploding fireballs
24 Zeta Draconids; 12 days; 17h 24m; 63°N
30 Aurigids; 1 day; 5h 40m; 42° N
OBSERVING THE SUN
While it is the year of a "quiet sun", quite a lot of solar activity has been noted by several members and it should be observed through the summer. A mass of groups, all fairly well developed last month, coincided with auroral activity that lasted for several weeks.
Observing the sun is not at all difficult, but it can be dangerous. NEVER look at the sun through an unfiltered scope or with your naked eye! When using a scope, a quick check with your hand in front of the eyepiece will tell you if there is more light there than expected. Observing may be done in one of two ways with any type of telescope: direct and projection.
Direct, as its name implies, is observing the sun directly through the scope, with suitable filtering or stopping down done. I do not advocate this method as accidents can happen in the safest of equipment.
Projection, however, is the observing of the image projected from the eyepiece. It is safer for you in that you don’t stand the chance of a filter breaking or falling off. The latter method, however, subjects the eyepiece to a great deal of heat, and so the objective should be stopped down to 3 inches or less unless you really wish to get rid of an eyepiece.
One bonus with projection that makes it superior to direct observation is that, by darkening the surrounding ares such as a room, you can greatly increase the contrast and get a sharper image. Images of three feet in diameter in focus is not uncommon with even a 2-inch telescope.
Turbulence is the major drawback from projection, but only because it is more apparent in the enlarged image than by direct observing.
When you are observing the sun, and you would like to record information, you will be struck with the problem: where is the axis of the sun? To overcome this problem you must first center the sun in the eyepiece. If you then let the image drift the west limb of the sun will touch the edge of the field of view first. By tilting the mount south, the north limb of the sun will touch first. You may leave it at that, or you may want to find the poles and the equator, and to do this you must turn in your Observer's Handbook to page 54 and look under the heading of "Sun Ephemeris for Physical Observations".
Here you will find four columns: date, P, Bo, and Lo. Direct interpolation of all numbers is accurate enough. The date is obvious, and each column occurs at 0 hours Universal Time, so a bit of conversion is required. P is the angle towards the east that the North Pole makes with the north point found before. More easily, I’ve found, it is how far north the west end of the equator is with respect to the west limb found above. It is easy because with consistent observations you will know how the axis is oriented and by simply letting the sun drift you can readily determine the axis without need to tilt your scope south each time.
Bo is the distance, in solar latitude, that the center of the disc is north of the solar equator. Lo is the heliocentric longitude of the center of the disc, or the distance in solar longitude from the solar meridian.
To elaborate more on the meaning of the columns, take a look at the date June 15. Under column P we see -9.98, which means the western equator is located 9.98 degrees south of the point which touched first when the sun was allowed to drift after it had been centered.
Under Bo we see 1.02, which means that the equator passes 1.02 degrees south of the center of the solar disc. Lois 46.77, which means that the center of the disc is at solar longitude 46.77 degrees, or the central meridian is 46.77 degrees east of the center of the disc, since the sun rotates east to west.
To find the position of a group, or spot, a few handy tricks are in order, if you do not have a proper solar projection map that gives latitude and longitude every 10 degrees for a given orientation of the sun.
The easiest is the longitude. Depending on the accuracy you desire, conversion from the time of observation to the times given, from direct interpolation of the values will give you fairly accurate values of P, Bo, and Lo. By drawing a light or imaginary line from the group down, parallel to the north-south axis until it intersects the circumference of the circle used to represent the disc of the sun, and measuring the angle relative to the south pole will give you how far east or west of the center the group is located. By adding this to Lo if the group is west of the center, or subtracting if east will give you the longitude of the group; this is useful in identifying a group that comes around on the next rotation.
The latitude is a bit more difficult, as you must estimate where the equator passes, a bit difficult if it is at maximum elongation and the group is 50 degrees or more either side of the center. An estimate of an ellipse with the major axis the diameter of your circle and minor axis twice the value of Bo is needed, depending on the accuracy required. With a compass, measure off the distance
from the group to the equator, located north or south. Measure this distance off along a tangent to the circle with one point at the contact point of the circle and tangent. A line drawn from this point, perpendicular to the north-south axis will intersect the circle and the angle from here to the point common to the tangent and circle will give you the latitude of the group.
With this it is possible to locate any object on the solar surface. For those who intend to look at the sun this summer, good luck.
RECENT IAU CIRCULARS
With the advent of summer and the change in constellations, quite a variety of comets are becoming accessible. Many are too faint for amateur telescopes - such is always the case. There are a number, however, that can be picked up using the 16-inch at North Mountain.
Comet Bradfield, 1974b, is still a good object in the north circumpolar region, though it is on its way down from 11th magnitude. Coordinates for the summer have not been received yet.
Comet Encke is trying hard to elude us. Near perihelion it was lost in the evening twilight, and now in the morning twilight. On June 2 it will be just to the left of the body of Cetus at Mag 11.4 (c.2547). It will then head down towards Grus and at the end of August will pop back up into Sagittarius near M 54. Perhaps we can catch up to it then.
The most recent comet discovered, Comet Lovas, 1974c, seems to be getting brighter. I wish the IAU circulars would make up their mind. On June 2 it will be between Eta and Beta Virginia at mag 13.6, heading across towards Sextans (c.2660). It will be just below the Coma-Virgo group of galaxies, and should be a very good object in the 16-inch telescope.
The last comet within our magnitude reach is Comet Araya, 1972XII, which will be just beneath Fomalhaut (Pisces Austrinus) for the summer at mag 14.0 and fading. (c.2630) Unfortunately that is a little too low in the sky to get at.
Then we have the comets that are too faint to be seen and getting fainter. With the rising of the Pegasus and Pisces region comes Schwassmann-Wachmann I, although it will not be high in the sky until August. Normally, even the 16-inch scope couldn't pick it up, but if it increases in brightness unexpectedly like it did in the past, we could easily detect it. So that a vigil can be kept, here are some coordinates (c.2652):
Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann I, 1925II
Date RA Dec
June 2 23h 28.30m 0° 38.0' N
12 23 31.75 1 15.4
22 23 34.27 1 47.6
July 2 23 35.77 2 14.1
12 23 36.20 2 34.3
22 23 35.55 2 47.6
Aug 1 23 33.82 2 53.9
11 23 31.08 2 53.1
21 23 27.50 2 45.5
31 23 23.27 2 32.0
In Pegasus and travelling toward Cygnus there will be Comet Kojima, decreasing from mag 20.5 to mag 21 (c.2649). Comet Finlay will be in Pisces on June 2 and on its way to Gemini where it will be at the end of August (c.2637). Just above the body of Cetus and going towards Aries will be Comet Reinmuth 2, which will rise from mag 19, but not appreciably, and then fade (c.2644).
Comet Forbes, 1974a, will be moving up and back down Aquarius at about mag 17 (c.2625). Lastly, we have Comet Heck-Sause in Camelopardus and heading north, at about mag 20 (c.2638).
News of new comets for the summer can be obtained by consulting the IAU circulars at North Mountain or by giving Rolf Meier or myself a call. We would appreciate hearing about your observations and hope to see you out observing!
THE MILKY WAY IN CYGNUS
The summer Milky way is brighter than the winter Milky Way because you are looking in the direction of the center of our galaxy. The actual center, and brightest part is in the constellation of Sagittarius, at about RA 17h 42m, Dec 29° S. Here one sees many star clouds and clusters and nebulae. Unfortunately, this part of the sky is rather low in our latitudes, and is only briefly in good viewing position. The second-brightest part of the Milky Way is in the area of the constellation Cygnus, and it dominates the summer sky overhead.
On a good clear night, the naked eye almost seems to be able to resolve the clouds of stars into individual stars. Since the ancients didn’t know any better, and good eyesight may have been rare, it can be imagined how they assumed the homogenous glow to be a "milky way". When you look at, try to realize that you are looking at the arms of our own galaxy, and that this is a 3-dimensional structure, and the stars extend far outward.
Remember also that there are many intervening dark clouds of gas which prevent you from seeing stars beyond. It is instructive to lie back and look at this area with binoculars. Imediately one sees many bright areas resolved into stars. To orient yourself, locate the "Northern Cross". (see map) Binoculars will show the North American Nebula to the east of Deneb fairly easily. The "Gulf of Mexico" is the brightest part, and the contrast may be high enough to show the outline in a richest field telescope. The entire nebula is about 3 degrees long, and fits nicely into a binocular field.
Under very dark conditions, the Veil Nebula may be seen in binoculars. The nebula is a glowing cloud of gas which forms sort of a circle with two bright and several fainter arcs. It is the remnant of a supernova explosion which occured about 100,000 years ago. One arc passes through the 5th magnitude star 52 Cygni, which should be put out of the field when the object is observed in a telescope. The Eastern arc of the Veil Nebula, which you have seen in the famous Schmidt photograph, is about 1° long and is barely detectable in binoculars. With larger telescopes the view gets better. It is truly an incredible sight in the 16-inch, with which the delicate streamers which give it the "veil" appearance are seen. Averted vision may be needed in smaller scopes, although it is a matter of using the power which gives you the best relative light efficiency. (about 4 x per inch).
There are many fine telescopic objects in this area, some of which are marked on the map (below).
THE MILKY WAY IN CYGNUS
SUMMER ASTRONOMICAL MEETINGS
If you are really keen and looking for an interesting summer vacation, there are a number of places you can visit this summer and use astronomy as an excuse to visit them.
The General Assembly of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada will be held in Winnipeg this year from June 28 to July 1. This will be a joint meeting of the RASC and the American Association of Variable Star Observers. Paper sessions, tours, displays, and accommodation will be at the University of Manitoba. Registration is $10.00, and accommodation at the university residence is $35.40 for a single room and $32.40 per person for a double room.
This is for three nights and meals. At this GA there will be an opportunity for telescope makers to display their telescopes. Prizes will be awarded for the best in mechanical and optical excellence, uniqueness of design, and radio telescopes.
The annual Stellafane convention will be held this year as usual in Springfield, Vermont (in what will soon be the suburbs) probably on August 10. Amateurs from all over North America will bring their telescopes for judging and to talk shop with other telescope makers. The best telescopes there are usually brought by members of the Ottawa Center.
American meteor observers will be holding several group observing sessions in July. One will be in Pennsylvania, and another will be in Florida, starting on July 17.
If you don't want to go so far, there will be the usual observing sessions at Quiet Site and North Mountain Observatory.
For information on who goes where and when on these conventions, feel free to contact me.
ESCAPE FROM THE STAR LOST
2 unknown members
(The authors apologise for the total irrelevance of the title, but it is catchy)
A visit to the North Mountain Observatory (an extract from the log of two travelers from the United States touring the great Canadian observatories). Our van pulled into a barren wasteland which the map says "WARNING: NORTHMOUNTAINVILLE".
"There it is", we cried. At 3:01 EST, our van parked in the shadow of the impressively massive structure known as the Northmountain Observatory. Luckily, after a brief chat with the owner, Mr. Rolf Meier, we were allowed to get into the glass rotunda for the modest price of $7.00 a piece. Cramming our equipment into the rotunda, we were able to secure pictures of the massive 16-inch telescope before getting kicked out by a crabby janitor cleaning the narrow corridor.
Suddenly we heard the announcement, "...today at 15:30 hours the washing of the 16-inch primary mirror will commence. All work crews are advised to be prepared." This was it. Not only did we see such great scopes as the Slover scope, Meier monstrosity, and the Buchanan borrowed buchroeder but we were going to see the cleaning of the biggest mirror in all of Ontario! A lengthy bartering session with Mr. Meier and his stooge Karl Poirier led to permission to view this once in a lifetime spectacle; giving up our van, telescopes, and cameras as a trade. (We've heard that this Karl Poirier still has our van with the C on the back for California, but we doubt that it still works. When we were finished with those N.M. potholes, the transmission was so bad that the van only travelled in reverse. This was fixed through the sheer genius of Karl. One can travel forward merely by taking the axles and the wheels off and loading it on a flat back truck.)
So, equipmentless, we strode into the massive observatory. As we turned on the TV right after the Jello festival in Rumania finished, we heard Chris Martin and Barry Matthews describe it. "We should be expecting the hydraulic roof-roll-off any moment now. Wait, we have a red light...it seems, in the opinion of the officials who are now checking the program manuals that the reinforced clothesline wire has rusted through."
"Yes, that's what it is, Barry, the reinforced clothesline wire capable of pulling 65 tons or 83 freight cars full of golf balls, whichever comes first, has failed again. They had that problem last year, didn't they?"
"Yes, Chris, it seems the Canadian winter and its effects have once again marked its effect! The count is now re-commenced, and the roof is now rolling off under the guidance of an IBM 370, 2 million byte computer."
"Yes, Barry, on the floor before us now is a new crew who are entering instructions into a secondary Ampex computer. I believe that this will position the telescope to its ICP."
"That’s right, Chris, the Initial Cleaning Position instructions are now entered at...Mark...execution is now commencing with the Ampex computer, capable of storing Rolf Meier's incomplete sentences 500,000 times in its memory or handling the complete agenda for an RASC meeting."
"Now as the telescope moves to its ICP, ground crews stare in awe. Isn't it ingenious designing a telescope that not only moves in RA and Dec but also does cow impressions when it moves?"
"I’ve heard that it took a program longer than one that sends men to the moon to get that sound.”
"Crew 2 has just been summoned to bring in the hydraulic mirror lift which they are now wheeling in."
"Y'know Chris, I’ve heard that if this lift were attatched to mechanical jaws that its power could run it so fast that it could double Glenn Slover's rate of eating hot dogs!!"
"What POWER! Well, the MGA and MLA are being set into the computer and the attatchments are being made. We’re coming to the big moment now. T minus 10..9..8.. start atomic worm screws..5..unbolt cell..3..pressurize tube..2..1..zero..we have lowering, yes the cell is cleared at 15:40:29.38 EST!! The mirror is being lowered down from its cell onto the lift. The rate is 1 cm/hour to ensure maximum alignment precision and balance to prevent strain...(time lapse)... ..."Well, here we are again, and now before us is the mirror in its down position on the lift, its gargantuan face pointing to the ceiling. What would you estimate on the dust there, Barry?"
"Uh..uh.,uh..professional estimates have just come out of the computer now, and judging by the sterile cleanliness of this observatory, I’d say between .02 to .03 meters of dust on the mirror."
"Now the 'clean crew', a group of men imported from Sweden, sterilized and disinfected, have arrived to clean off the Big Eye of the NMO scope."
"Yes Chris, this is a good team. I have notes here which show these boys once cleaned all the windows in Rolf Meier’s house in a month, so we've got the best there is.”
"Now a special cart of pure ocean sponges grown for mirror washing are being wheeled in. Following them is the Northmountain Fire Department headed by Art Fraser, who have been distilling water for two years for this operation. We can expect WPI any moment now and, yes, the light is green... we have WPI."
"According to data here the Water Pumping Initialization takes about 3 hours as the water is pumped through an 8-mile-long charcoal filter. The suction pump at the other end is working full tilt trying to draw the water through the filter. This pump is capable of drawing all the water out of a block of cement in 3 years, if humidity is present...
"Here we are again. Now other crews have moved in all dressed in green suits from head to toe. The electric cords are knee-high on the floor from the thousands of instruments huddled around the 16-inch mirror. Now, striding into the room are the head cleaners (and de-magnetizers), Dr. Lossing, Ted Bean, and Cathy Hall, the 'scrub' cleaner. We take you to Dave Penchuk on the observatory floor."
"Speak up, Dave."
"Well, here I am on the observatory floor as the cleaning is about to commence. All are going over last minute checks and manual procedures displayed by the computer on CTRs overhanging the table."
Lossing: Hose Hall: Hose Lossing: Sponge...Clamp that corner...Get some suction in here...I can't see a thing "This is Dave here again. They are now lowering the Edmund Mirror Suction Unit with monogrammed chrome nameplate and optional AC/DC outlets with warning lights for dichroic fog. This unit has a 25,000,000-Angstrom diameter see-through hose. The water continues to drip from the filter."
"Barry here. We seem to have an emergency red light on the op-board. There is a short circuit near the table somewhere...Code 12-r-A702...according to my press manual on NMO mirror cleaning and the Observer's guide to incomplete sentences, it says we have a short circuit in Ted Bean’s pocket hand warmer. Oh, oh, it's Ted running wild all over the observatory floor trailing smoke from his pants. The reporter outside has the story for us."
(apologies to "The Streak):
"This is your action news reporter, Rob Dick, with all the news that's news across the nation on the scene at the observatory. There seems to have been a disturbance here. Sir, did you see what happened???"
"Yeah, ah did. I was just standin over thar by th' outhouse, and here he comes, smokin' like a chimney, runnin' thru the sumacs an then thru the fields an I said 'Don't look, Cathy!' but it was too late. She'd already seen it."(to be sung to the tune of "Werewolf" with apologies):
So she went down to Art Fraser
Gottem outa bed and said
Git your hoses out
An shut up your filter, and get out your pumps
We're gonna need all the water ya got
Cuz I want you to extinguish Ted Bean's pant
with a single shot
I got a job to do an I got to get it done before
old Ted burns up
Whaaaaaaaaaaaa is it any wonder (etc)
Then we heard a squirt
And I said "betcha Art gottim"
Then we heard a screeeeaaam
Rolf nailed and said "bet the fire got him"
But when I lifted up my eyes there was Ted in
Starin' at his shorts.
An I never did see that pocket warmer no more.
Whaaaaaaaaaaa is it any wonder (etc)
The music slowly fades out. Back at the observatory:
"Well, everything is now settling down and we are again restarting the count at 23:45:55.6 EST...Mark...the count has recommenced. At precisely 23:46:30 the ion bombardment of the present coating will begin followed closely by the wheeling in of the 4-ton heating unit. At 23:50:15 EST the heating will begin."
"That's right Chris, this is very important. For if the mirror is too cold it would be disasterous to the whole operation."
"What Barry is describing is a new process of surface cleaning that he discovered in his basement. It is being used for the first time here on a large telescope. We are coming up to HOM (Heating Of Mirror) now and the lights on the op-board are all green. Mark. Right on schedule. As I was saying, the process involves cleaning the mirror until it is sterile. Then an Essential Optics Aluminum Foil Pitch Pressing Unit Moduletor-Inverter (soon available in decorator colors) will be lowered by skycrane to a position directly above the mirror. The workings of this machine are too advanced for the average listener, however. The machine will evaporate exactly 2 microns of pitch onto the mirror. If the mirror is at precisely 150 degrees F it will conform perfectly. A 16-inch diameter piece of Alcan foil will then be pressed onto the Great Eye. As soon as the computers show the impression to be perfect the mirror is cooled down at the rate of 10 degrees per hour."
"Correct, Chris. Wait...yes, the Brinks truck with the 200.96 square inches of foil is coming down the dusty road and...wait...it's been engulfed by a pothole... but it's out again and it has arrived. The EOAFFPPUM-1 is not beginning to purr. Dr. Lossing has belted the five million dollar machine with a sledge hammer. Yes, all is back to normal. We now have the EOAFFPUM-1 being carried off by the skycrane and glittering in the sunlight is the new, freshly cleaned coating."
"What a finish." comments George Montgomery.
"And that's all from Barry and I. It looks like another great year of observing with the Big Eye. We would like to thank the NM Fireman's Association, Ottawa Cablevision, Edmund Scientific, and Rolf Meier for making all this possible. I'm Chris Martin..."
"...and I’m Barry Matthews. Good evening."
The memories of that great day will follow us for the rest of our lives. We were truly fortunate to see this once-in-a-lifetime spectacle, the sum total of man's dreams. As soon as they let us out we'll tell you all about it.
Astronotes will not be published in July and August.
Articles for the September issue are due by August 23.
Ms. Rosemary Freeman RASC
The Royal Astronomical Soc. of Can.,
252 College St.
TORONTO 130, Ont.
INDEX TO ASTRONOTES VOLUME 9 (1970)
Issues: 10 Pages: 108
COMET ABE; Allen Miller; Oct; 3
COMETS, COMETS EVERYWHERE; Ken Hewitt-White; Mar; 3
COMET 'KOSAKA WIDELY OBSERVED; Ken Hewitt-White; May; 12
COMET TAGO-SATO-KOSAKA (1969g); Feb; 4
DEEP SKY; Allen Miller; Sept; 7
DEEP SKY - AURIGA; Allen Miller; Mar; 9
DEEP SKY - Miscellaneous; Allen Miller; May; 11
DEEP SKY - NGC 253; Allen Miller; Oct; 9
DEEP SKY - Nothing; Allen Miller; June; 6
DEEP SKY - ORION; Allen Hiller; Jan; 5
INTO THE HEART OF COMA-VIRGO; Ken Hewitt-White; May; 10
AN ATTEMPT AT SHADOW BAND DETECTION WITH A PHOTOCELL;
Edward ter Heijden; May; 13
...AND IN SUNNY MEXICO; Rick Salmon; May; 2
COMPUTING THE ECLIPSE; Tom Tothill; Mar; 5
ECLISPE '70 - THE SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS!;
Dave Paterson, Ken Hewitt-White; Apr; 6
ECLIPSE NEWS; Tom Tothill; Feb; 3
ECLIPSE TIMINGS; Tom Tothill; Apr; 10
PHOTOGRAPHING THE SOLAR ECLIPSE; Fred Lossing; Apr; 9
SHADOW BANDS; Rick Lavery; Apr; 7
THE VIRGINIA BEACH ECLIPSE EXPEDITION;
Sylvia Wake; Apr; 11
NRC takes over astronomy; Jan; 1
on the measurement of time; Mar; 1
GUEST "EDITORIAL, DEFENCE OF THE PARSEC;
Edward ter Heijden; Apr; 1
INCENSE OF THE PARSEC; Tom Tothill; Apr; 2
on a National Newsletter; May; 1
on the General Assembly; June; 1
on the 16-inch; Sept; 1
Gone Observing; Oct; 1
on activity in the Center; Dec; 1
EVENTS AND REPORTS
ASTRONOMICAL STAMP FROM GREAT BRITAIN; Rick Lavery; June; 7
BLITZ ON THE MIRROR; Feb; 5
COCOCA; Tom Tothill; Jan; 10
COUNCIL MEETING - DEC 9; Tom Tothill; Jan; 3
COUNCIL MEETING - FEB 20; Mar; 10
DEEP SECT WONDER NIGHT - VERMONT; Tom Tothill; Oct; 2
ECLIPSE NIGHT - THE MEETING OF APR 3; Sylvia Wake; May; 2
FALL PROGRAM; Rick Lavery; Oct; 2
GENERAL ASSEMBLY PLANS; May; 14
GENERAL ASSEMBLY REPORT 1970; Rick Lavery; June; 3
INTERNATIONAL ASTRONOMICAL YOUTH CAMP, BOLOGNA, ITALY, 1971; Nov; 9
"IT WAS NICE KNOWING YOU!"; The Council; Jan; 10
MONTREAL CENTRE TO VISIT HERE MAY 3; Mary Grey; May; 14
NEWS FROM MONTREAL; Rick Lavery; Oct; 10
NORTH MOUNTAIN OBSERVATORY; Tom Tothill; Nov; 1
OBSERVERS GROUP MEETING - DEC 6; Chris Martin; Jan; 2
OBSERVERS GROUP MEETING - JAN 3; Sylvia Wake; Feb; 6
OBSERVERS GROUP MEETING - FEB 7; Sylvia Wake; Mar; 2
OBSERVERS GROUP MEETING, MARCH 14; Sylvia Wake; Apr; 3
OBSERVERS GROUP NOW MEETS ON THE FIRST FRIDAY OF MONTH; Apr; 14
OBSERVERS GROUP, MAY 1ST; Sylvia Wake; June; 2
OBSERVERS GROUP, JUNE 5; Sept; 2
OBSERVERS GROUP MEETING - SEPT 4; OCT; 2
OBSERVERS GROUP MEETING - OCT 2; Sylvia Wake; Nov; 5
OBSERVER OF THE YEAR; Tom Tothill; Feb; 5
PROF SIDA ON RELATIVITY - MARCH 19; April; 14
SPRING STAR NIGHTS; April; 5
STELLAFANE '70; Tom Tothill; Sept; 12
TELESCOPE FUND REPORT; Rick Lavery; Jan; 3
TELESCOPE FUND; Rick Lavery; Feb; 5
TELESCOPE FUND; Rick Lavery; Mar; 4
TELESCOPE COMMITTEE MEETING; Rick Lavery; Sept; 3
TELESCOPE FUND; Rick Lavery; Dec; 5
VICE-CHAIRMAN'S REVIEW - 1969; Ken Hewitt-White; Jan; 7
LUNAR; Barry Matthews; Feb; 1
LUNAR; Barry Matthews; June; 14
LUNAR FEATURES; Barry Matthews; Apr; 13
OCCULTATION SUPPLEMENT; Barry Matthews; May; 6
YUP, FLUBBED ANOTHER GRAZE; Tom Tothill; May; 9
METEORS - THE WINTER REPORT; Ken Hewitt-White; Apr; 4
METEORS - THE SPRING REPORT; Ken Hewitt-White; June; 12
METEORS - THE INTERIM REPORT; Ken Hewitt-White; Sept; 6
METEORS - FALL REPORT; Ken Hewitt-White; Dec; 3
SOME INTERESTING METEOR PLOTS; Ken Hewitt-White; Oct; 7
THOUGHTS ON METEOR OBSERVING; John Conville; Sept; 5
OPTICAL THEORY AND INSTRUMENTATION
AN EXPERIMENT IN VISION; Walter Turner; June; 9
A NULL TEST FOR CASSEGRAIN SECONDARIES; Rick Salmon; Sept; 9
HOW GOOD IS THE DALL TEST?; Tom Tothill; Oct; 4
ONE MORE 8" REFLECTOR; Robert Dick; May; 4___
STARS, EXTENDED OBJECTS, AND PHOTOGRAPHIC SPEED; Fred Lossing; Nov; 7
THE DOPE ON SCOPES; Ken Hewitt-White; June; 10
THE SCOPE AS A RULER?; Allen Miller; June; 6
PLANETARY NOTES; Doug Beaton; Jan; 9
PLANETARY NOTES; Doug Beaton; Mar; 7
PLANETARY NOTES; Doug Beaton; June; 4
PLANETARY NOTES; Doug Beaton; Oct; 5
THE TRANSIT OF MERCURY; Edward ter Heijden; May; 3
PURKINJE EFFECT - CURSE OF THE VARIABLE STAR OBSERVER; Rick Lavery; Feb; 2
VARIABLE STAR SECTION; Rick Lavery; Jan; 10
VARIABLE STAR AWARD WINNER; Rick Lavery; Feb; 4
VARIABLE STARS; Rick Lavery; Mar; 8
VARIABLE STAR NOTES; Rick Lavery; Apr; 4
VARIABLE STAR SECTION; Rick Lavery; May; 5
VARIABLE STAR SECTION; Rick Lavery; June; 7
VARIABLE STARS; Rick Lavery; Oct; 10
VARIABLE STAR SECTION; Rick Lavery; Dec; 5
a letter to Tom Tothill; Oct; 8
BEEFS, BLURBS, AND BALDERDASH; Sept; 11
CLOUDED OUT; Barry Matthews; Apr; 12
CLOUDED OUT; Barry Matthews; June; 11
COMMENT ON THE FILMS; Rick Lavery; Dec; 2
LAST MONTH’S PROBLEM; Walter Turner; Feb; 6
NEWS AND MOTES; Mar; 10
NORTH MOUNTAIN OBSERVATORY - THE DEFINITIVE MAP; Dec; 6
POLLUTION UNDER STARRY SKIES; Doug Beaton; Sept; 4
TEACHING THE COMPUTER TO THROW EGGS; Tom Tothill; June; 13
THE ALL-KEN DEEP SKY BOOK - OR THE KEN-ALL; Sept; 10
THE LOST CLOCK; Walter Turner; Jan; 4