AstroNotes June 1969




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ASTRONOTES    Vol. 8  Issue 6        June 1969

Editors Tom Tothill 22 Delong Drive, Ottawa 9
Addresses: Howard Harris 620 Keenan Ave, Ottawa 13
Circulation: Ted Bean 399 McLeod St, Ottawa 4


On a trip to the glorious West in May, your scribe was
able to seize an opportunity to drop in on George Ball in
Victoria. George is National Instrumentation Coordinator
and deservedly so, for he is an assiduous worker in his
basement and can design and make almost anything in his own
workshop equipped with modest but effective tools. There
is a lathe, a shaper, a bandsaw, a mirror grinding machine
of excellent design, an aluminising apparatus, and numerous
parts of forthcoming projects. Stepping into the little
drafting office next door, George becomes Chief Designer
and works out ideas on paper with careful thought before
making them. When I chanced to drop some ash on the floor
he explained that he was also the janitor!

In his back yard George has a newly finished dome
about ten feet in diameter with a large solid pier for a
solar telescope which he is making. The dome and slit are
of excellent workmanship and the counterweight system for
the slit cover is most ingenious. The segments of the dome
are fibreglass all made on a common mould, and the whole
building rotates at ground level on spring-loaded wheels
which take up any imperfections in the steel ring on which
they roll.

Victoria had a real tough winter last year. There was
snow on the ground for several weeks and the temperature
went all the way down to Five Above.

The Victoria Centre had concluded its activities for
the summer so I was not able to meet more of the members
or attend a meeting, but we send them our cordial good
wishes not untinged with envy, for they live surrounded by
some of the world's most magnificent scenery in a climate
well-tempered by the ocean.

Less time was available in Vancouver, but it was enough
to carry away an unforgettable impression of its magnificent
siting, layout, and architecture - one of the truly
beautiful cities of our time, with all the amenities in
exactly the right place.


The twenty-odd Ottawans who managed to get to Toronto
for Victoria Day weekend enjoyed themselves, at the same
time striking up new friendships in all directions. Stan
Mott was forever in evidence, blinding everyone with his
flash bulbs, and no doubt we'll see the results at the
June 7 Observers Group meeting.

Itching to see the 16-inch mirror blank, we lugged
the 81-pound crate into the trunk of Marie Fidler's car
and she took it to the McLaughlin Planetarium for us.
Then it was a mere matter of lugging it up four flights
of stairs to the display area, borrowing a hammer from
the planetarium staff, prising off the lid, strewing
wood shavings all over their immaculate carpet, and pulling
the mirror out of its rubber coccoon. What a lovely great
hunk of glass! Three inches thick, clear on one side and
ground on the side to be worked. A few bubbles near the
clear surface but nothing to worry about the other side.
Accompanying it was a proper certificate of annealing and
bi-refringence tests to indicate the residual strain. The
total cost including transportation and U.S. exchange came
to about $242 which exceeded the $225 made available to us
by the generosity of the Ottawa Centre (our original
estimate was for a two-inch thick blank but we took expert
advice and ordered the three-inch instead). However, the
Centre has once again stretched in our favour and picked
up the whole tab - our sincere thanks to Fil Park, Mary
Henderson, and special thanks to Earl Dudgeon.

Then there was the good Ottawa display to hang up,
and a little time left over to see around the other Centres'
displays and the outstandingly well organised display area
of the Planetarium , before the Planetarium show "Mars,
Planet of Mystery", delivered by Terry Dickinson. The
McLaughlin is indeed a magnificently well constructed
edifice. Seats in the star theatre have headrests and
plenty of leg room. There are conference rooms, mirrorgrinding
rooms, workshops, a well-stocked bookshop, staff
offices, and a library. The Toronto Centre now holds all
its meetings there and indeed most of the staff were
recruited from the active membership of the Toronto Centre.
The invited paper at the session for papers on Saturday
morning was by Ed Lindberg - "The Story of Stellafane"-
with good slides of the many ingenious and exotic telescopes
that have been displayed there over the years. A
very warm and cordial reception was given to Steve Craig
and Ken Hewitt-White for their excellent presentation of
the Ottawa solar group's results, repaying them in some
measure, we hope, for the hundreds of hours they have spent
observing, drawing, and counting sunspots.

At lunch time on Saturday we duly had the meeting for
those interested in a National News Letter. For a time it
seemed as if disaster was upon us, for the twenty people
present had as many different views as to how it might be
brought about. However, there wa6 no question that all
the Centres represented at the meeting were in favour of
some such publication, and a clear majority were in favour of
having a number of pages added to the Journal for news of
activities in the different Centres and by unattached members
too remote to join a Centre.

Therefore, at the Annual Meeting of the Society which
began at 2 pm we were able to report the concensus. A
motion, proposed by Tom Tothill and seconded by Ken Chilton
of the Hamilton Centre, that a National News Letter of five
or more pages be established as soon as possible, either as
an integral part of the RASC Journal or separately, was
debated and passed with only about four negative votes to
about two hundred in favour. Thus ends the long and often
uphill battle started by the Observers Group as a whole
and carried forward by the last three editors of Astronotes.
We would, perhaps, have preferred a rather more independent
publication, uncomplicated by editorial committees and all
the pruning and delays that may result, but we feel it is
a start in the right direction and if operated with due
regard to the amateur viewpoint may grow into a real asset
to the Society.

It is understood that National Council later the same
day decided to appoint a committee of five to get the
publication underway; naturally, there will be some delay
before the mechanics of the thing are worked out, but we
are hopeful that it will not be too much different from
the target date of 1st Jan, 1970 which was originally

The National Committee on Observational Activities
heard reports from the National Coordinators, all of whom
said that they got a few reports from members initially
and then almost nothing for the last year or two. When it
was pointed out that the addresses of the National Coordinators
do not appear in any Society publication, and tend
to get lost in the more rapid changeovers in the list of
local coordinators, Miss Northcott agreed that it would
be feasible to list up-to-date addresses of National
Coordinators and the Secretaries of Centres in the back
cover of the Journal. Thus everyone will know how to
contact these people and one more channel of communication
will be opened up.

The National Committee on Observational Activities
decided to wind itself up as being too formal an organisation
for the collection and reporting of observations.
Most people merely send their observations direct to the
proper collecting agency to save time. However, the
National Coordinators will continue to exist and it is
urged that they be sent copies of results to keep them in
touch with what is being done across Canada - the story is
worth telling, from the bits we learned by talking to
friends from other Centres.

Saturday ended with a dinner in the magnificent Great
Hall at Hart House, tendered by the Government of Ontario.
There were shafts of wit in the several speeches as well as
around the tables where still more friendships were

Sunday was more or less given over to sightseeing,
and Monday included a trip to the David Dunlap observatory
in the morning and to the Kleinberg collection of art in
the afternoon. The appropriate windup to the proceedings
was another planetarium show "The Sun and its Family"
conducted by Mr. Norman Green.
* * * * * * * * * *


Having been clouded out on May 9 and 10, new arrangements
were made for May 23 and conditions proved almost
ideal. Not only was the sky clear, but the seeing was
unusually good. About a dozen telescopes were available
at the Quiet Site and about 50 people - Centre members and
their friends, since we do not advertise these star nights -
were treated to excellent views of Jupiter, Uranus, and
Mars, plus some of the M-objects and a satellite. Apollo
10 was orbiting the moon at the time but we did not expect
to be able to see it and did not try. Mars was unexpectedly
easy to view when only about 10 degrees above the horizon
and Syrtis Major and Boreosyrtis were clearly visible dark
patches just past the centre of the disk. Later, the Great
Red Spot appeared on Jupiter's limb.

Ken Perrins brought along his restaurant which was
much patronised, and even the Solar group showed up. As
everyone here knows, the Solar group is, the Meteor group,
which in turn is the Lunar Occultation team, which also is
the Deep Sky group. And the Deep Sky group, of course, is
the list of Coordinators. Membership in this group is not
by any means exclusive, however. When are you going to
pitch in to it and do something?
* * * * * * * * * *


That Rick Lavery is starting his summer star classes
on Friday June 6th which is supposed to be for adults but
the definition of "adult” can be stretched considerably if
it's a good night. He will be telling us ignoramuses -
including the experienced ignoramuses (and as Confucius
says, "there's no ignoramus like an experienced ignoramus")-
where the constellations are, the names and magnitudes of
some of their principal stars, and how to go about
estimating magnitudes. Call Rick at 828-8213.

The classes for students, including elderly students
who didn't get it the first time, will begin July 4.
* * * * * * * * * *


Regretfully, we have to report that the Post Office
has turned down our request for second class mailing rates,
although it may be painfully obvious that we are a second
class publication and should qualify right at the head of
the list!

So in order to cut down on mailing costs which are
now the most expensive part of Astronotes, we are going
to separate out the Observers Group names and bring
Astronotes to Observers Group meetings for distribution.
Those not picked up will be mailed later so, to be up to
date, be sure to turn up!

The Observatory members' copies will be delivered to
the Observatory for internal distribution, and NRC members
will get theirs by internal mail too.


Several members are planning to drive to Springfield,
Vermont for this year’s Stellafane. The idea is to drive
down on the Friday and camp two nights. The actual display
and judging of telescopes is on the Saturday, but many
people stay up all night, one night or the other, observing
and comparing notes, if conditions are good. Please contact
Tom Tothill, Barry Matthews, or Rick Lavery if you are going.
* * * * * * * * * *


The Observers Group put on their annual show and
report to the Centre. A slide show of facilities and
activities entertainingly presented by Peter MacKinnon
and Les MacDonald was a highlight. Dr. Lossing brought
his nearly-finished Dall-Kirkham and explained its features.
He also commented on Tom Tothill's observatory in his
unavoidable absence, and brought members up to date on the
16-inch telescope project. Ken Hewitt-White reviewed the
observing programme in general.

The main talk was a "dry run" of the paper on solar
observations to be presented at the General Assembly by
Steve Craig and Ken Hewitt-White.
* * * * * * * * * *


Mars came to opposition on May 31 uncomfortably close
to the full moon. However it still gets nearer the earth
for a few days after that and should be in the best
position to observe about the time you get this. For
seeing the surface features a red or orange filter is
recommended. A blue filter will bring out any hazy or
cloudy areas in the atmosphere and if you can change rapidly
from one to the other you may be able to detect that the
blue image is perceptibly larger than the red. A high
power should be used, partly to dim the image and reduce
glare and partly to increase the separation of barelyvisible
features. To see the satellites Phobos and Deimos,
you will have to blank out Mars with a thin strip of tape
across the focal plane, Inside the eyepiece.

get your summer observations ready by Aug 22 for Sept issue!