AstroNotes October 1969




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ASTRONOTES     Vol. 8, No. 8    October, 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


You will have noticed, as Astronotes comes into your hands month by month, that the same names crop up again and again as the authors of contributions, with only a very occasional exception to the rule. This is not a criticism of our regulars - very much the reverse - but it seems worth pointing out that Astronotes is open to everyone in the Ottawa Centre to record in a permanent form their observations and views. We publish everything we
receive with a minimum of editorial interference.

The format of Astronotes is such that if we go even one word over six pages it has to become a ten page issue. So occasionally the Editor finds himself having to write three or more pages to fill up the blanks or, on one occasion, the whole darn thing because nothing at all came in!

A ten pager takes a complete weekend to type and lay out, and we try not to get into that every month. But if the stuff is there and of really great interest, we would go to fourteen pages or more. It would be a real help if contributors could type their contributions in our format, letter-perfect. This is really quite easy: take a piece of ordinary 8½ x 11 typewriter paper and fold it in two, cutting down the fold if it won't go in your machine sideways. The left margin is 5 spaces of this small pico type, and paragraphs are indented 5 too. Go as far to the right as you like - 3 spaces is plenty of gap.
Leave an extra line (or half line if you have it) between paragraphs.

The title of your article goes in capitals, underlined. Your name goes on the same line which is the third line from the top of the page to leave room for the page number. Do not type the page number - put a number in pencil for your own convenience if you like. Adjust your article to fill one or more pages if possible. Illustrations are welcome if they are black on white line drawings - we can't handle photos. A good black pencil is OK, or black ink - not blue or ballpoint. Also use a good black ribbon in the typewriter.

Well, it's the first of October again. The time of year when the Solar coordinator complains that all his observers have deserted him. Nobody looks at the sun any more!

Although I can’t honestly say that the situation is as bad as that, I can say that the Solar Patrol at the moment does look a little anaemic. Members have had to suspend observations for various reasons and so far they have not been replaced. The group needs at least five (5) new solar observers to put it back on its feet. I know solar observing doesn't have the comfort of a heated coffin but at least a solar observer doesn't have to
observe at 4 a.m. But that's enough on that line.

Taking a new tack now, there have been a few changes made with the organization of the solar patrol. My records are finally in order and up to date. Copies are now being made to integrate with copies of the Montreal records. Because of the vast amount of paper work involved in our solar patrol and the national solar division (as well as the growing complexity of my own observing techniques), I have found the need to choose an assistant to relieve some of the pressure.

Jon Buchanan is now the assistant Solar Coordinator and is in the same boat as I am - involved in both local and national solar organizations. Jon's first task will be to assist in the very tiring but important job of Rabble Rousing (which I never had enough time to do). Between us I think we should be able to phone every non-solar observer to death. You all know how to get around this painful operation. His second function is assisting in the mind-bending job of computing and keeping track of the wildly fluctuating personal and weather factors for each observer as well as integrating the  observations to form something other than sheer insanity.

Jon's third and potentially most demanding task is to lend his superb and well ordered style to help organize, process and file the huge mass of  information which is now coming from outside the Centre.

The National Solar Division is now growing and I would like to see the Ottawa Solar Patrol grow with it. If you can help, please contact either Jon or myself.


Ken Hewitt-White

Cygnus is a huge constellation - much larger than its Northern Cross asterism might indicate. Within this huge affair there lies a great wealth of deep sky objects. In particular the northern boundaries occupy perhaps the best examples Cygnus has to offer.

Less than a degree east of 16 Cygni lies one of the finest planetaries in the heavens, NGC 6826 (H73). Rated by some as equal to or better than the famous Ring nebula, 6826 exhibits a 10.6 mag central star surrounded by a hazy and mottled nebula. The shape is irregular but well defined. This object takes magnification very well indeed 400x on an eight inch is needed to properly do it justice. At 200x the central star might be missed but at higher
powers it is dominant to such an extent that one may well suspect it to be the actual nebula. At a total magnitude of 8.6, the 'poached egg' is second in brightness only to the dumbbell nebula in the summer sky.

High above Deneb and where the Cygnus milky way abruptly blacks out can be seen NGC 7008 (H192). This is another gem! It is disappointing and somehow annoying that people will ignore an object like this in favour of the more famous objects farther south. Open your eyes and look! Discover these wonderful jewels hidden away at the back of some constellation. 7008 is hard to find but it rewards well for your efforts. It is a large and reasonably
well defined planetary but curiously oval like a galaxy. Being faintish, a high power can not be employed as in the case of 6826 but a medium power does wonders. At 128x on my eight inch, 7008 exhibits a mottled appearance with one side distinctly brighter than the other. Long scrutiny with averted vision reveals this characteristic quite clearly. The planetary lies almost on top of a conspicuous double star so that on low power the double looks superimposed on the nebula.

Crowning the northernmost border of Cygnus lie the final two objects in this installment. 6946 is a huge, faint galaxy sharing a wide field with the open cluster 6939. The latter lies actually across the line in Cepheus but both can be seen together in a RFT. The cluster is perhaps the finest in Cygnus - like a 'splattering of star dust'. A conspicuous star is embedded in a centre only partially resolved on low power. This centre fans out to the south where resolvable detail becomes noticeable. A few dark patches are in evidence here making the cluster an altogether worthwhile effort to observe.

The jewel above would be enough on its own but 6946 adds to the field admirably. The galaxy provides a striking contrast to the well defined cluster by being very large, diffuse and elongated. It appears much larger than the listed atlas size which makes it difficult to observe. Together, the two provide an excellent field. These are just a handful of the many wonderful objects that can be seen all along the Milky Way. Even greater sights await the amateur in the autumn Cassiopeian skies. If you don't believe me, see for yourself!


Chris Martin

Ken Hewitt-White chaired the meeting in Dr. Lossing's absence in Japan, with 39 people in attendance. He first gave a few facts on Quiet Site visits which
totaled 232 on 77 separate days. The meeting continued generally as an observational period. Steve Craig, Solar Coordinator, commenced with
an apology to Tom Tothill for outweighing Tom's collected occultation observations by 19 pounds, 14 ounces! He then showed drawings done by himself and Robert Dick, and concluded with a general explanation of an 8" Gregorian which could also become a Coude type instrument and an RFT.

Les MacDonald, leaving his post as Meteor Coordinator, gave a few final words. Les will be leaving for Trent U. on Sept 9. Elections at the end of the meeting produced the youngest Coordinator of the group, Chris Martin, as Meteor Coordinator. The post is temporary as a more permanent arrangement will be decided upon during the December elections when all coordinators end their two-year stints. Rick Lavery made a brief comment on variable stars
and reported the failure of the weather to cooperate with his summer constellation classes.

As Deep Sky coordinator, Ken Hewitt-White then displayed the beautiful piece of art done by himself and Allen Miller. It is an album of deep sky objects, tentatively titled "A Midsummer Night's Dream", with finder charts, descriptions, and very fine drawings. It is available on personal loan from Ken or Al.

Tom Tothill then spoke on the lunar reappearances of the Pleiades on Sept 29, noting in passing that although the Solar group might outweigh his output, vast quantities of computerized predictions were continually arriving and were available for use.

A fine account of the 16 inch mirror project (done by Ted Bean, who unfortunately was in hospital at the time) was read to the meeting. Ken then showed a few pictures taken at Robert Dick's cottage near Rideau Ferry, where an expedition took up a kind offer by Rob's parents to occupy the cottage. The
main talk, by Rick Lavery, was a slide show of Stellafane.


Chris Martin

First, a note of thanks to Les MacDonald, who has been the mainspring of the Meteor group for several years, for a job exceedingly well done. Without him the results of the '67 Perseids (1808) and this year's Perseids (1342) would not have possible - and those are only the maximum nights. Les was a good example of the Observers Group spirit and kept everybody active in the meteor observing field. Winter shower maxima seem to be the meteor observer's
worst friend because of their rare occurences. The one that seems to bug most meteor people is the December Geminids. Another is the October Orionids. The Leonids weren't too bad but could be better.

BUT, this year will be different! These showers will be seen and must be. There are no excuses for anyone to hibernate. Winter meteor showers are frequent and can be easily observed, especially for the conditions this year. The following will illustrate this point:

Shower Date EST Moon
Duration to
¼ strength
Oct 21
04:00 1st ¼ 2 days 25
& Mon
Nov 5
- Last ¼ 20-30 days 15
Nov 17
01:00 1st ¼ - 25
& Sun
Dec 13
19:00 1st ¼ 2.6 days 50
Fri & maximum night

As one can see the weekends are not too far away from maximum nights so a shower may be observed mostly on the weekend before and after. The possibility of observing on maximum nights seems fair because the days are getting shorter - e.g. one may start at 6:30 pm and end at 10:00 without much interruption of a school schedule, if any. The Taurids often come in clear weather, useful for practicing on the winter constellations and for getting
those hours in.

For those who want to observe these showers or become meteor observers, please contact me at 236-2868 or address 242 Powell Avenue, Ottawa 1, Ont.