AstroNotes 1963 November Vol: 2 issue 09

EDITORIAL . Deep Sky . Student Member Observations . Planetary Observations . Observers Group Meeting . Radio Astronomy



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The Newsletter of the Ottawa Centre, RASC

Vol. 2  Issue 9     1 November 1963

Editor: George Brunton  2565 Elmhurst 828-1473
Circulation: Howard Harris 620 Keenan 728-6044


On Saturday, 28 Sept. we held our second annual STAR PARTY for the public. Saturday was our second choice, the night before being rather wet. This night wasn't the best either for while it didn't rain, a good part of the evening was clouded out. Nevertheless, for those people who did turn up, we managed to have the Moon, Saturn, Jupiter, Alberio and several Messier objects in one or the other of the 5 telescopes set up on the grounds of the National Museum. Jack Horwood had a battery powered slide projected rigged up and livened up the cloudy periods with a short illustrated talk on the objects we were showing in the 'scopes. Jack's mile by mile commentary as Echo passed over caused considerable interest.

This year the party was organized by John Stairs and the telescopes were owned and staffed by Bill Dey, Frank Evraire, Dan Brunton, Rick Salmon and Jack Horwood.

Also of general interest lately was the 5 October meeting — a review of the photographic efforts of our group during the Solar Eclipse last July. About 10 minutes of excellent 16 mm movies by Earl Dudgeon's father started the show. This was followed by 20 minutes of 8 mm movies taken by Stan Mott, George Brunton, Adrian and Larry Booth, and Les MacDonald. Next came 60 colour slides, some really spectacular, all interesting. These came from the cameras of Fred Lossing, Jack Moore, Earl Dudgeon, Mary Henderson, Dave Fisher, Harry Stevinson, Dan Brunton, Art Covington, Sandy Kennedy. Mounted prints were displayed by Nancy Covington, Peter McKinnon, Les MacDonald, Rick Salmon and Janet Henderson.


Deep Sky

by John Stairs

It sometimes happens that information about a new discovery becomes available to the public at a time when the sun's position makes observa­tion of the interesting object difficult or impossible. The writer must then decide whether to publish the information when it is topical or wait 6 months for good observation.

Recently it has been confirmed that the galaxy M 82 is the centre of a tremendous ex­plosion that has been going on for 1 1/2 mil­lion years with an energy release equal to that of a million supernovae. Gas five times the mass of the sun has already expanded 10,000 light years outwward from the centre of M 82 at velo­cities that continue at several thousand miles per second. Evidence is mounting that such explosions are not infrequent among island universes and may account for M 82 and other galaxies being strong radio sources. It is also possible that these explosions may be the source of cosmic rays. M 82 is 10 million light years away from the earth.

Deep Sky in Astronotes of May '63 locates the pair M 81 (8 mag 16x16) and M 82 (11 mag 7x2) in Ursa Major. To repeat the May location, the diagonal of the dipper bowl going from lower left (gamma) to upper right (alpha) if extended an equal distance beyond alpha will stop at a point about one degree south of the pair which are themselves separated by less than a degree.

A second galaxy of great interest is 3C-273 in Virgo. It too appears to be exploding but has other unusual features. Its recession velocity indicates a distance of 2 billion
light years. Yet in spite of being nearly 200 times more distant than M 82 it is only one magnitude fainter, being 12 1/2 instead of 17 or more as one might expect. This means it must be at least 100 times as bright as a Milky Way like our own (assuming it to be seen to maxi­mum advantage and not on edge like M 82).

Student Member Observations

by Peter McKinnon

The coming of the Delta Aquarid and Perseid meteor showers in late July through until mid August resulted in extensive sky watching in this area. As well as the amateur visual team located in Queensway Terrace, two members of our group, Les MacDonald and Pete McKinnon, helped out at Springhill Meteor Observatory. At Springhill, the visual observers recorded almost 1400 meteors over a four night period. Radio and photographic records were made as well. Several -3 magnitude meteors were seen
but these did not compare with a -10 magnitude meteor recorded by the Queensway group. This group consisted of Brian Houlihan, Joe Defoe and Dan Brunton as well as Pete McKinnon and Les MacDonald.

Some observing during non-shower periods was done before the Orionid meteors became active. W ith the advent of this shower both teams made plans for its observation. Dates have also been selected by the Queensway group to observe the Leonides in November, the Geminids in December and several dates for sporadic meteor observing as well.

In making meteor observations the observer is required to note its magnitude, its posi­tion against the background stars, the type (sporadic or shower), the train if present,
any irregularities such as colour, bursts, shape or speed. (Speed is usually indicated as Very Past, Past, Slow and Very Slow.) All this information must be gathered in the
elapsed time of the meteor which normally does not exceed half a second. The observer then plots the position of the Meteor on a map along with its assigned number and its magnitude. The remaining data are passed on to the timer.

Three Martian months determined by Phobos, the inner satellite of Mars, occur during a single day.

Planetary Observations

by Bill Dey

Observations of Jupiter this year reveal many changes in appearance. The red spot, so conspicuous last year, has faded to a fuzzy blob but exhibits its pink colour even when
the seeing is very poor. It may be currently seen when the central meridian is at approxi­mately 15 deg. (System II). Activity in the southern hemisphere continues to be centred around the South Temperate belt with dark sections, white ovals and bays appearing. The thin southern component of the South Equatorial belt and South South Temperate belt require good seeing in order to be distinguished.

In the northern hemisphere the most active area is in the North Equatorial belt with rifts, streaks and patches drifting across the face of the planet from west to east. Both the NEB and SEB have become much lighter this year than last. North of the NEB and very close to it, I have glimpsed at times of good seeing what may be the long-lost North Temperate belt. Confirmation of this would be most welcome.

Observers Group Meeting

The Monthly Meeting of the OBSERVERS' GROUP will be held as usual in the library of the Geophysical Building at the Experi­mental Parra. Starting time is 8.00 pm on
Saturday, 2 Nov. The program will include:
1. Telescope Making
2. The Constellations
3. Review of the non-photographic observations at the Solar Eclipse.

Many members of the Ottawa Centre of the RASC attend the lecture meetings each month but never turn up at the meetings of the OBSERVERS' GROUP. Possibly these members feel that the group is only for those interested in active observing or telescope making. These meetings are planned to appeal to everyone. If you're mssing all the fun, come to this mtg. You'll be glad you did.

Even more curious is the fact that on photo­graphic plates extending back 78 years the magnitude varies between 12.9 and 12.3 with brief and intense flashes making the magnitude as bright as 11 1/2. Since whole galaxies cannot flash in brightness, such events must be the result of explosions, presumably stars, but ones that are 10,000
times brighter than the most brilliant supernovae known.

It is hard to appreciate just how bright this is. At 10 parsecs (33 light years) an ordinary supernova would be 10 times as bright as the full moon. The objects in 3C-273 if placed at 10 parsecs would be 100,000 times as bright as the full moon, so even at 33 light years these objects would be 1/5 as bright as the sun. At the distance of
the closest star, Alpha Centaurii (over 4 light years), such an explosion would appear 12 times brighter than the sun and would un­doubtedly give us all quite a tan-hypernova-burn.

The sun is in Virgo just now, but those who want to look for 3C-273 later on, the location is R.A. 12h 26.5, dec plus 2 deg. 2 1 ' (1950) and the stars in the vicinity are
shown in the diagram above.

Radio Astronomy

by Gord Grant

Back in the thirties there were amateur rocket societies throughout the world. With the pressure of war and the cold war these nuclei of devotees have progressed considerably. As the manufacture of satellite launch vehicles became standardized, it was often found that the satellite payload was lighter than optimum, and ballast in the form of water was carried aloft.

Some Amateur Radio Operators who worked on these projects felt than an amateur satellite could take the place of some of the ballast and produce useful scientific data as well. The result of much organizational work, hard labour and experimenting has orbited two completely amateur-sponsored satellites carrying trans­mitters on 145 mc s. Since the frequency used is a common one to many Radio Amateurs, excellent and widespread tracking practice was achieved. Orbital elements and temperatures within the satellite were measured by a simple means. From all over the world information was sent back to headquarters by other Radio Amateurs.

The first launch late in 1961 lasted about 5 weeks as expected. The second in June 1962 was of about the same duration. These demonstrated that amateur efforts could be launched and tracked. These satellites were called OSCAR -Orbiting Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio. Oscar III will possibly be launched this year. It will be an amateur version of TELSTAR, carrying a receiver and transmitter that will retransmit within the 144-148 mcs band. The experimental unit has been in operation for some months. With it in orbit, communication is ex­pected to be possible from coast to coast on 144 mcs and perhaps for even greater distances.

Amateurs all over the world are looking forward to this step into space communications. As astronomers, your assistance may be needed to locate and predict positions of this satellite.

The appearance of 400 comets was recorded before the invention of the 'telescope.