AstroNotes January 1972



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The Newsletter of the Ottawa Centre, RASC

Vol. 11, No. 1 - January, 1972

Editor: Tom Tothill
Addresses: Mary Grey
Circulation: Ted Bean
22 Delong Drive, K1J 7E6
Dom. Observatory, 994-5474
399 McLeod Street, K2P 1A5

(Many of the articles in this issue have been drastic­ ally condensed, owing to the volume of material sent in, and a few have had to be held over.


Ken Hewitt-White (733 - 4949 )

The Observers Group is not an armchair organization. It is dynamic, justifying itself almost solely on amateur observational astronomy, a group of enthusiasts who watch the heavens with eye and telescope and gather together periodically to share ideas and discuss recent observations.

Amateur astronomy can be a highly individual affair. Lunar and planetary work, deep sky probing and comet sear­ching is best attempted and most appreciated by the single observer. Work in groups in this Centre is pretty well limited to meteor observations. About the only time the Observers Group acts as a group is when it is gathered to­ gether at the monthly meetings - excepting informal gath­erings at star nights, etc.

As our Group’s new Vice-Chairman I feel that it is my job to help widen the scope of the Co-ordinators' talks to include items of more general interest as well as their specialities, to convey more clearly the enjoyment of ob­serving in a particular field. General discussions of things astronomical and perhaps talks at various levels of understanding might interest not only involved observers but the general attendance as well, and might result in
increased participation in the various fields.

The general membership is urged to participate at the meetings. If you have a little tidbit (or a major one) that you think is of wider interest, get hold of Tom Tothill, the Chairman, and he will be glad to give you time up front. No need to be nervous - you are just talking to your friends who are always glad to know what interests you.


Cathy Hall (825-1628)

Rick Lavery opened the last meeting of the year, with an audience of 54, 22% non-members. Stan Mott, our librarian and long-time national meteor
co-ordinator, gave an exceedingly interesting talk on the fantastic 1946 Giacobinid shower, the same one predicted to go wild next October.

Dr. Lossing displayed the astrocamera built for the 16" by Gordy Grummett from lens supplied by Fil Park. Also announced: the 16 " is back in possession of its faculties, having recovered from its cold (...really?). A method for determining the height of mountains on the moon from a photograph was presented by Walter Turner. Doug Beaton, our Steward of the Planets, spoke about the planetary configuration of Jupiter, Venus, Mercury and the moon that wasn't. Slides followed, courtesy Rolf Meier on, among other things, the Horsehead and Great Orion Nebula, and Mars.

More slides, those on the opening of North Mountain, were shown, narrated by Mr. Tothill. The John Conville graze saga was continued, this month's tale describing the one on Dec 28 at 7:30 EST. He also introduced Jo (otherwise known as OJ 287), a quasar the N.M. segment plans to observe. The upcoming Geminids (Dec 13) were announced by Ken Hewitt-White. (P.S. They turned out rather well).

To finish off the year, elections were held. The results:
Chairman and Astronotes editor - Tom Tothill.
Vice-Chairman, meteors and aurora co-ordinator - Ken Hewitt-White.
Librarian - Stan Mott.
Lunar and "New Member" co-ordinator - Barry Matthews,
Solar - Mrs, Jean Knapp, (our first female co-ordinator!).
Planetary - Rolf Meier.
Deep Sky - Rob Dick.
Grazes - John Conville.
Variables, comets and nova - Jon Buchanan.
Coffee - Ken Perrins.
And Secretary - yours truly, signing off till this time next month.


John Conville (733-8299)

An opportunity has arisen to use the 16" for a direct­ly useful task in the realm of scientific interest. Some of you may recall the abortive "Opportunities for Youth" application made by some of the student members last summer to observe the variability of bright quasars visually. This project has now been re-defined in terms of one speci­fic object in a specific period of time. The quasar has the Christian name of OJ and the surname of 287 and is
quite bright visually (like 12.5) but varies quite a bit with time.

From Jan 3 to 26 there is going to be an extensive observational program taking place all over the world. By participating we will have a chance to compare our visual estimates with photometric and thereby decide whether such observations have any use at all. The program will be carried out by the active variable star observers.

Rick Lavery, Sylvia Wake and myself tried on a bitter­ly cold night to locate the object which is on the meridian about 2 in the morning, but were somewhat confused by the fact that the finder chart is from a blue-sensitive plate. However over Christmas we got some help from Rick Salmon
who will be observing it photometrically with the David Dunlap 24", and will try again before the moon becomes too offensive.


Martin Connors (London Centre)

As explained by Robert Dick in the last issue, a Barlow lens is a negative lens placed in the telescope's opti­cal path to enlarge the image. The commercial design of Barlow as illustrated last month is actually not as simple as a Barlow can be. All that you really need to do is purchase a lens for the Barlow and then mount it so that you can slide it into the focusing tube as shown:Although you have to remove the focusing tube to put in or remove the Barlow, this has not bothered me and I like this design better than the commercial design. With an Edmund -46.6 mm about 1.5" in front of the focal plane, magnification on my 6 " is about doubled to approx 50 - 60 x.


Prof, Victor Hughes spoke to the Centre on Nov 30, on the evidence for large explosions having taken place from time to time in the Galaxy - much larger than supernovas. One such event not far from the sun 65 million years ago can perhaps be associated with the sudden disappearance of
the dinosaurs,


Dr. Peter Hillman will be speaking on "Copernicus and Kepler". RCAF Officers Mess, Gloucester Street, 6:30


Barry Matthews (829-7237)

With the assistance of Dr. Gunter's supplement to "Asteroid of the Month" I have been able to confirm sight­ings of three asteroids:
30 Urania, mag 10.5, 1.09 A.U., sighted Nov 16,23,Dec
216 Kleopatra,
10.1, 1.15 A.U., sighted
471 Papagena,
10.2, 1.25 A.U., sighted Dec 4, 10.

If anyone wishes to receive these fine charts drop a line with a self-addressed envelope with postage 10¢ or 15¢ Canadian coin to:
Dr. J.U. Gunter
1411 N. Mangum St
Durham, North Carolina 27701



of Mr, W.R. (Bill) Darker, O.-in-C. of the Ottawa Magnetic Observatory.


Rick Lavery (828-8213)

It seemed to many that 1971 would be a quiet year for the Observers Group. What could top the comets and eclipse of 1970?

Well, February saw the Earl of Chaucer team up with the Swami (with spiritual help from the Marquis of Delong) and soundly defeat Murphy. Our first successful grazing occultation expedition!!

The April issue of Astronotes brought the debut of the Schlossing Saga. This serial has made Astronotes so popular that it is now impossible to obtain extra copies for friends. What happened to observing in March and April? Who will ever forget the winter of '71 with its more than 12 ft of snow? I guess that in every observer's life there will be a winter of '71.

May saw the first trips to the Quiet Site to dig out 'Blewitt Tite' who was still plotting minor shower meteor radiants in his igloo. Unfortunately we were not able to unthaw him in time to get him to the General Assembly to present a paper on meteor observing. However, we were well represented by Messrs Buchanan, Dick, and ter Heijden. At about the same time, the last of the snows left the Ottawa valley and work parties began making weekly, weekend pilgrimages to North Mountain. For the rest of the summer and autumn many of our observers-turned-handymen toiled at the site ... until on the 22nd of October North Mountain Observatory was officially opened by Walter Scott Houston.

The inclement weather of October and November has delayed many projects on the 16". It is hoped that the winter months will allow our observers to take advantage of our billion-light-year-long highway. And that is the way the year of 1971 looked to this chairman. I would like to thank Barry  Matthews, Mary Grey and Doug Beaton for their help during the year. No one can or will deny that Rick Lavery's two-year
Chairmanship has been a great one.


Barry Matthews (829-7237 )

No two eclipses are alike, and amateurs can contribute a great deal of valuable information with anything from naked eye to the largest scope. You can survey the moon throughout the eclipse and write or tape your impressions. Pay particular attention to a) colour and tone of penumbra b) sharpness of the umbra c) its colour and tone d) visibil­ity of features in the umbra e ) luminosity at totality on the 5-tone Danjon scale shown overleaf.

Last but not least, valuable information on the earth's atmosphere can be found by timing selected craters as they enter and leave the umbra. The 15 shown overleaf are prime targets. The moon will be low in the west, altitude 18° to 12° during totality, and morning twilight will be breaking. This will be too low for North Mountain and the 16" so the Quiet Site would be a better bet, and most City sites no good at all. The umbra will cover the moon plus 5.4% (only) of its diameter, so totality will be short and the SW limb (bottom edge) will likely remain rather bright. All the stars occulted or reappearing during totality are 9.0 to 9.5 mag and unlikely to be observable.

As a co-ordinator without name - "New Member?"- I would like to make a few recommendations to aid new members of the Observers Groups

  1. We have an up-to-date list of co-ordinators and active observers on hand at meetings, with phone numbers.#
  2. Members seeing a new face - make yourself known.
  3. If you bring a prospective member to a meeting, introduce him or her to me.
  4. Could someone take standard exposures of all the Messier objects to aid recognition?
  5. I have started an "Observer’s Manual" taking the new observer through increasing degrees of difficulty. (More about this at the Feb outing).
  6. Establish an "Equipment Loan Library". I will start it off with a modified 3.5" reflector.
  7. Have extra gatherings conducted by various Co-orders
  8. A new name for the new Co-ordinatorship be chosen,

(# Astronotes is now putting phone numbers under authors)


(Check One Value)
( )
0: Very dark eclipse, moon almost invisib­le, especially at mid-totality.
( ) 1: Dark eclipse, gray or brownish color­ ation, details distinguishable only with difficulty.
( ) 2: Deep red or rust-colored eclipse, with a very dark central part in the shadow, and the outer edge of the umbra relatively bright.
( ) 3: Brick-red eclipse, usually with a bright or yellow rim to the shadow.
( ) 4: Very bright copper-red or orange eclipse, with a bluish very bright shadow rim .

1. Grimaldi
2 Aristarchus
3. Kepler
4. Copernicus
5. Pytheas
6. Timocharis
7. Tycho
8. Plato
Method used
(Please continue on top of back

Jack Horwood

Most transistor radios which cover only the standard broadcast band can be modified with very little effort to receive CHU at 3330 kHz. The same circuit, after adjustment with a screwdriver, has also received WWV at 5000 and CHU at 7335. Once the receiver has been modified it is only neces­
sary to insert a plug to which a short aerial wire is conn­ected in order to convert from standard broadcast to time signals. Useful overtones or harmonics are already present in the radio; it only remains to make the antenna circuit "favour" the desired time signal.

The inductance of the antenna circuit is reduced by adding in parallel a lower inductance. The latter is adjus­table with a small screwdriver so that the circuit may be tuned for peak response - it is only necessary to do this once. Referring to the diagram note that condenser C is inserted to prevent a possible DC short circuit. The cor­rect connecting lug on the tuning condenser is located as follows: 1) Either by tracing the circuit from the aerial
coil, or 2) by holding one lead from C and touching the other lead to each of the two lugs of the tuning condenser in turn. It may help to tune the radio to a weak station near 1400 kHz. Touching the correct lug will make the signal louder; touching the other lug (the wrong one) will detune the radio from the station.

Typical antenna circuit
5-10 ft hookup wire
for aerial (longer
for 5000 kHz or 7335
in more remote
Details of Parts
disc ceramic condenser, .001 to 0.1 mfd
Allied Radio Shack, #272-131, 3 for 59¢
Allied Radio Shack, #270-376, 3 for $1.29
P&S Cesco, plug and socket set #MPJ
(the socket must not be grounded)

Notes The coil, Allied Radio Shack #270-1430, available singly and complete with mounting bracket for 89¢ , may be used as L . In either case use the wire with which the coil is already wound. Carefully remove the outer end of the coil from its lug and unwind leaving the inner end connected. Re­wind 20 to 22 turns, scramble-wound, covering approximately a 1⁄4-inch length of the coil form. Secure the winding using nail polish or paraffin wax. To bare the end of the wire for soldering, remove the outer cotton covering from the fine, bare, inner copper strands by rubbing very gently on the fine emery paper to be found on the side of a matchbox.

The two contacts of P are joined so that L will be connected to the antenna circuit while P remains inserted in S . Keep all wiring as short as is  conveniently possible. Adjust L for peak response of the desired time signal; it may be necessary to improvise an aerial with better pickup (e.g. the metal part of a telephone, or lamp base) until L is almost correctly adjusted. To use the correct harmonic of the oscillator the radio tuning knob is set as follows:
1) for CHU at 3330 KHz, radio dial should read 975 ± 8
2) for WWV at 5000 kHz, 1053 "
3) for CHU at 7335 kHz, 1259 ”
L must be adjusted individually for 1), 2), or 3 ).

It is hoped that all teams can soon have access to time signals when the Group attempts to observe a lunar graze!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Robert Dick (722-5809)

One of the newest books in the Library is the NEW PHOTO­GRAPHIC ATLAS OF THE MOON by Zdenek Kopal. This is a large book with both text and photographic plates. The text discusses the historical evolution of lunar studies from visual to the Apollos, and the properties of the lunar terrain. The photographic section contains 204 described and located pictures, mostly taken by the lunar Orbiters, Surveyors, Rangers, and Apollos. These will dazzle the eye of both lunar and non-lunar observers.

Others reading new books in the Centre library might also write up a short appreciation for Astronotes.


Ed ter Heijden (237-6905)

A low cost wide field camera utilizing Polaroid film can be easily constructed. The chief advantages are that black and white Polaroid film has an ASA speed of 3000 and an almost instant development time, so faint magnitudes can be reached quickly - useful for comet-hunting, Messier object and asteroid positioning, I made one by sawing off the front end of a $9.00 Big Swinger camera and mounting a lens of about 7" focal length, f / 4 .

The lens mount is a fibreglass tube. A focusing screen was made by glueing a piece of ground glass inside ,of a used Polaroid film cartridge. Each exposure is made by simply removing the lens cap. For astro photos where exposures are usually a minute or more this arrangement is quite convenient,

At NMO it was possible to reach at least 11th mag in one minute at f/4, and 12th mag with about four minutes. These estimates were made by noting the presence of certain faint nebulae on the print. Even at Bank and Gladstone 8.5 mag is reached in 25 sec but sky fog is rather bad.

Cold weather is a problem with this type of camera, as development time is a function of temperature. In winter the camera must be taken inside after each exposure and allowed to warm up to at least 35°F , which corresponds to a development time of about 60 sec. A small thermometer was
glued to the side of the camera to monitor the temperature. The cost of film is about $2.50 for eight exposures of type 107. Colour film could also be used, but the ASA drops to 75 while the cost doubles,

Barry Matthews - take note.

Just what you want!-Ed.


Rolf Meier(224-1200)

Why not search for new comets with the 16 "? Many comets of the last few years have been found by Japanese amateurs with average size reflectors on city rooftops. As we have a telescope very large by amateur standards under one of the darkest skies accessible near a large city, maybe we can, with persistence, compete with the compact imports.

Since a record would certainly be kept of all nebulous objects not on the charts we have in present use, we may end up with a catalogue of our own of objects for largish telescopes. I have already left some preliminary instruc­tions as to how the search might be carried out at North Mountain, so look them over and consider improvements.

Go to it, Rolf. The pre-dawn sky in the North-East is the least likely area to get regular scrutiny.


Robert Dick (722-5809)

As the new deep-sky co-ordinator I feel obligated to talk about some of the equipment at our disposal. Starting where it all started, right here at the Observatory, is the Small Dome. It has a bank of photographic telescopes - comet camera with 30 x 40 deg field, 6" and 8" photographic refractors with large fields about 10 x 8 deg, an objective prism for the 8", finder scope, guide scope with illuminated cross-hairs, all on a clock-driven astrographic mount.

The comet camera uses 10" x 8" plates or sheet film, the 6" and 8" use both 6 1⁄2 x 8 1⁄2 and 4 x 5 inch plates or sheet film. City lights limit exposures to 5-10 minutes except with the objective prism which can be used for 30 minute exposures.

If you wish to use the Small Dome but have not signed a release form, contact me, Be sure to enter the partic­ulars of your photos in the log book in the dark room, and please remember at all times that this is an expensive and valuable photographic instrument and must be treated as such.

But don’t knock visual observing. It is usually more detailed than photographs for enjoying the majesty of the deep sky.


Ken Hewitt-White ( 733 - 4949 )

Yes, folks, believe it or not the sky was clear over Ottawa on the night of Dec 13 / 14 and the Q. S. meteor guys# got their first Gem max in the team's five year history. We also got a single-night record for the most meteors seen in a continuous session for any team in Ottawa in the past 10 years. While the rest of us sat exam-bound in the Carletonian din, Dave Paterson got started alone till we could join him. Murphy was so busy breaking down the tape recorder that he forgot to louse up the sky, and Peter MacKinnon outwitted him with a portable cassette recorder, Pete also displayed amazing competency in his observing - the best I have ever seen. His experience helped make the rest of the night a success.

Thanks to Dave's solo effort we were able to get in 11 hours and 10 mins of continuous observing, nine of us taking part, and saw 2367 meteors. The maximum observed hourly rate was something like 102, when Peter blinked his eyes. When they were open the rate was closer to 200. Al Miller I thank for sacrificing the last 3 hours of peak observing (for which he was jeopardizing an exam the next day) so that he could babysit the ailing tape deck
down below, Cathy Hall I congratulate for setting an all-time endurance record for staying in the coffins without a break - 8 hours and 40 minutes! (The temp. was +5°, guys).

Paul Dawm does not observe often but his observing is extremely steady and authoritative. He did a steady job on the 13 th. And a special thanks to two new guys (one not even a member who stood - i.e. there was no room in the coffins - the whole night just to see what this was all about). I guess I should just thank everybody for putting up with a cranky and upset co-ordinator who was losing his hair (and could well stand it, -Ed.) over a tape recorder on the fritz.

Nearly everybody on the meteor team did an outstanding job on this shower, Thenk yew, all.
# How's that again?-C.H.


Rolf Meier (224-1200)

In the January evening sky there will be three bright planets visible. Setting later and later will be Venus, very hard to miss just after sunset, low in the west at mag -3.5. You might like to try to find it in the day (avoiding the sun carefully) when definition is sure to be better. Lacking setting circles, merely note its position when it is low in the sky, in relation to some terrestrial feature, and in the day you will be able to set the scope in the correct declination for sweeping.

The planet now is fairly small, still gibbous, but the disc is getting larger and the phase changing. I suggest that observers watch for the time when Venus is at exactly half phase, because this event does not seem to occur at predicted times. Faint markings are sometimes visible on Venus, but a blue or violet filter would be of value here.

In case you have forgotten about Mars, long past oppo­sition, take another look. The dust clouds that have cover­ed the surface since October are gone and features are still visible, and an obvious terminator. Watch for the north polar cap which I think is growing, and glimpses of the almost non-existent southern cap may still be possible. Hurry, though, for Mars is less than half its opposition size, and shrinking.

Saturn is now past opposition and the shadow of the ball on the rings can once again be seen. The moons pro­vide an interesting sight, up to 7 being within the reach of an 8" or even a 6" under excellent conditions. Titan, the brightest, is visible in a 2". See Ken H-W's article last month for details of the moons' movements. The best views I have thus far had of Saturn have been with the 16” at N.M.O., and I urge everyone to experience this
sight through that fine instrument.

For early risers, or late setters, Uranus can be seen as a beautiful little green disc in Virgo, at about 13h 8m, -6° 45'. Pluto is nearby and I will give an exact position next month,


Tom Tothill (749-4723)

"Hey fellas, lemme in, will ya!" said Hotpill, but was elbowed out of the lineup as usual.