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The Newsletter of the Ottawa Centre, RASC
|VOLUME 5 ISSUE 2 November 1966|
Editor: Dan Brunton 2565 Elmhurst Street, Ottawa 1 4 , Ont. 828-14 73
Circulation: Bill Dey 26147 Ayers Avenue, Ottawa 8, Ont. 733-0518
Mr. Prank Evraire, editor of ASTRONOTES, has found it impossible to continue
in this capacity because of increased pressure on his "free" time. With Mr.
Evraire leaving, ASTRONOTES needed a new editor and I was accepted as his
I would like to begin by thanking Mr. Evraire for his excellent work as editor;
we feel it is unfortunate that he is unable to carry on. I am sure that I speak
for all in expressing our profound appreciation.
There may be doubt in some members' minds as to the direction ASTRONOTES will
take under a Student member Editor. I can only restate what every other editor
has explained: ASTRONOTES is for everyone. I have no intention of turning it into
a Student Member publication, or anything other than that which it was originally
planned for. This newsletter is intended for the use of all, without restriction.
As editor, I would like the following ideas carried through:
1. A monthly report from EVERY co-ordinator or a member of his group.
2. Announcements of future meetings, events, etc. that have a bearing on
the Ottawa Centre.
3. A monthly article on interesting objects for study in the near future.
4. Periodic articles on such topics as new library books, index to past issues of ASTRONOTES, etc.
I cannot stress enough that the success or failure of ASTRONOTES rests solely
with y o u , the members. It's very simple: No articles, no ASTRONOTES!!
No item is too small to be of interest. We are all concerned in the acti
vities of our fellow members.
METEOR SHOWERS FOR NOVEMBER
Stan Mott, Comet and Meteor co-ordinator
The TAURIDS will be active during the first two weeks of November, but the
waning moon may be troublesome for the early part of the period. Though not a
particularly rich shower (about half of the 15 meteors per hour per observer
expected during the best part of the shower will be Taurids), the very slow, long
paths of many of these meteors make them impressive objects to observe.
The LEONIDS - will they or won't they? The strong return of 1961 caught every
one by surprise, the returns of 1962 and 1963 were so-so, the 1964. shower was
nearly as good as 1961, and the 1965 Leonids apparently surpassed 1961 (Ottawa
was clouded out, you may remember, but I understand the radar boys at Springhill
saw exciting things on their 'scopes). It now appears as if the really active
phase of a rich Leonid shower is of rather brief duration - the West Coast, Hawaii
Australia and Japan seem to have had the best of the show in 1965 . A feature of
the 1965 Leonids was their brilliance (good for photography!), vivid colours,
and, in many cases, persistent trains. The night ofWednesday, 16 - 17 November, is the most likely for a strong display ( the British
Astronomical Association in its 1966 Handbook has stuck its neck out with a prediction
of a rate of over 100 meteors per observer per hour!), but Tuesday and Thursday nights
should be kept in mind, if possible. The radiant ( in the Sickle of Leo) rises around
midnight ( the Moon will have set by then) which means that the second half of the night
is the time to do your Leonid observing. Good Luck!
The following are the co-ordinators for our various phases of operation. All will be glad
to help you in their particular field, so ask them!
Comets and Meteors Stan Mott 722-0957
Deep Sky John Stairs 746-6857
Instrumentation Fred Lossing 733-2715
Radio Astronomy Gordon Grant 733-4892
Satellites Jack Horwood 733-3848
Solar Dave Fisher 733-8311
Small Dome Dan Brunton 828-1473
Lunar Tom Tothill 749 - 4723
ALGONQUIN RADIO OBSERVATORY
On the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend several observers from the Ottawa Centre
toured the Algonquin Radio Observatory some fifty-five miles west of Pembroke.
In all nine observers consisting of Les MacDonald, Peter MacKinnon, Doug O'Brien,
Bill Barchet, Steve Kipp, Scott Hawkins, Mr. Mothersill, my father and myself went up in
The Chief Technician there was good enough to take us on a tour of the five radio
installations which took up a good part of his day. First he took us to the brilliant
white 150 foot dish which dominates a slight rise, and a nearby 33 foot dish and horn
antenna. There we were first shown through the control room of the 150 foot instrument and
then taken on a tour of the 'scope itself. Starting with the equatorial master and digital
computer used in positioning the radio telescope, we were then shown at close hand the
huge altazimuth mount of the telescope and then shown the instrument room directly behind
the centre of the dish, at the Gregorian focus.
Next we went to the solar interferometer site, which consists of a series of 3 2 , ten
foot diameter dishes used for high resolution scans of the sun in an east-west plane.
From here, we went to a solar polarimeter and solar monitoring dish which is about 6 feet
in diameter. These instruments working in conjunction with several others around the world ,
keep a constant check on solar flare activities.
By the time we left, at about 4 o'clock, we were
tired, after a long but fascinating day.
all quite impressed, though somewhat
Les MacDonald, Meteor and Comet Group
Summer, as far as Meteor Observers were concerned began with three consecutive
sleepless nights. Our observing site, a cottage at Lanark, Ontario, was provided by
Bruce Millar and entertainment was courtesy of 15 million mosquitoes! Although no major
shower was in progress, and nights were only four hours long, a total of 517 meteors was
seen by a group averaging six observers.
Survivors of the June ordeal observed 7 nights in July at Queensway Terrace, for
another 547 meteors. The Delta Aquarid shower with an hourly rate of about 15, was rather
disappointing. Only one third of the meteors seen were Aquarids.
Our Perseid observations were carried out 8 miles south of Ottawa on the farm of
Mr. John Dunn. A hay field was converted into a small village and observing compound.
Thanks to Mr. Lee Nolan of the N.R.C. we had a 1.000 watt generator for electric power. A
system of storage batteries and vibrator unit supplied a 60 cycle 110 volt current. This
was essential for the operation of a taperecorder which could handle more meteors than a
human timer and record all meteors to the second. By this method we hoped to correlate our
magnitude estimates and plots with those of N.R.C. observers at Springhill, Ont. The 60
cycle power supply also enabled us to keep a Questar and camera tracking the Perseid
radiant. The Questar was generously loaned to us by Bob Watters, a former member of the
August 11/12, the night of the Perseid maximum was like any other recent Perseid
maximum - rainy. The following night we were more fortunate. Meteors rained down as rapidly
as they could be fed into the tape recorder. Shortly after midnight the taperecorder
obligingly broke down. For the balance of the night Joe Dafoe sweated and cursed his way
through meteor reports which often came in at 200 per hour. By 4 o'clock, 728 meteors had
been recorded. The following night was a repeat performance. The third night also looked
promising until clouds ended the fun after 92 meteors had been seen.
Over the three nights hourly rates per observer ranged from an average of 40 for the
first night, with peaks at over 100, to 20 the final night. The Perseids showed their
characteristically high percentage of trains - about 17% of all meteors including non
With some hard work we should have all the summer observations sorted out by December
when the Geminids corne!
The next meeting will be in the usual place, the Geophysical Building at the
Dominion Observatory, on December 3 1966. The main talk will be given by Mr. J.L.Horwood
( our Satellite Co-ordinator), on Variable Stars. The usual business items and
observations will also be dealt with.
"GALAXIES, NUCLEI, AND QUASARS"
by Fred Hoyle. Harper and Row, New York, 1965
John Stairs, Deep Sky Co-ordinator.
It is an interesting thought that the cosmological models developed to explain
our observation sometimes seem more akin to science fiction than to science. Fred
Hoyle's book begins tamely enough but soon moves into the avant-garde. Whether this
is science or science fiction has yet to be demonstrated.
Chapter one surveys what is known about galaxies. Hoyle sees them as the link
between astronomy and cosmology and considers an understanding of their differences
and origins the biggest problem in astronomy today.
Chapter two is on radio sources and quasars and Hoyle wonders if these are a
clue to the cosmology-astronomy relationship.
Chapter three considers whether cosmic rays originate in galaxies and are local
or come from radio sources and have cosmological significance. A lengthy diversion
discusses particles and antiparticles in cosmogonic theory.
Chapter four deals with cosmologies, particularly the Steady-State. The C-field
is introduced to conserve particle energy and momentum between annihilation and
creation. A means of measuring the field, based on expansion, is considered along with
a related simplified coordinate system.
Chapter five is " A Radical Departure from the Steady-State Concept". Because of
the C-field, the gravitational collapse of a massive body approaches but does not reach
the gravitational radius. Particles created in this intense gravitational field could
be the source of cosmic rays. But the C-field calculated from expansion is too weak.
So Hoyle makes the strength adequate in the equations and then investigates the
resulting cosmology. It leads to a dense universe with an observable radius of about
one light year containing a total mass close to that of a typical group of galaxies.
Hoyle calculates the Steady-State solution using a mean C-field as above but with local
mass inhomogeneities. The field fluctuates slowly but sometimes random factors can
drop it toward zero over a large volume ( say a million light years). With continued
expansion and no creation a low density bubble develops and Hoyle equates this to the
universe we see. Eventually the bubble fills in from surrounding regions and
oscillates, the rate depending on the initial size. Groups of galaxies associated with
the elliptical giants result from the size of the observable universe in the dense
state and are formed by expansion from this state. Later, other galaxies form by
gravitational condensation. In Many, including our own, both processes appear to be
at work. Quasars may be leftovers we observe because their time is slowed for us by
intense gravitation ( relativity). Hoyle calculates our bubble diameter to be ten
thousand billion light years. Beyond it are other bubbles. Steady-State space-time
The final chapter tells how the higher elements are built up in stellar
interiors. Hoyle notes that certain nuclear energy levels are critical in the creation
of higher elements and of life. He speculates that these levels are a function of
bubble size and that life exists where the variables make it possible and is not just
a curious accident.
Hoyle's ideas are imaginative and exciting. The chapter headings are logical
and the text is well illustrated. Alas, Hoyle's writing discipline lags beyond the
brilliance of his mind. His argument too often gets lost in a confusion of facts and
diversions and some important points are dealt with inadequately. But for those
interested in cosmology who are prepared to read carefully the book is highly
Defense Research Board officials, through a group of amateur astronomers who are
employed at Shirley’s Bay, have made available to members of the Society the facilities
at "Quiet Site" on the shores of the Ottawa River.
A 20 foot parabolic dish on an equatorially-mounted yolk is equipped with receiving
and drive mechanisms which are housed below the dish in a concrete building. The working
range of the instrument is from 60 to 300 cms or 100 to 500 megacycles with the use of
interchangeable dipoles. Since the telescope has just recently been operative, detailed
information on its use is not yet available.
Also located at the "Quiet Site" and available to Society members is a h inch
Unitron ( model 166) telescope. This is housed in a single story cinder block observatory
complete with rotating dome.
The telescope has 100 mm aperature, 1500 mm focal length and a focal ratio of f/15.
The instrument has a resolving power of 1.1 seconds. It is equipped with an astro camera
for 9 x 12 cm plates and films, a 2 .4 guide scope, a finder, nine eye pieces ( from
60 mm to 4 mm), barlow lens and solar filter. The entire pier unit is independent of the
building and is securely mounted.
The original clock drive has been replaced with a DRB - developed electric drive with
solar and siderial ratings. The setting circles are accurate to 5 minutes with the aid of
A large trailer is being fitted with heater and storage facilities for stowing
The "Quiet Site" is located 12 miles west of Ottawa, well away from habitation and
travelled highways. All electrical wiring is underground; visibility in all directions is
The generosity of the Defense Research Board in making these facilities available
to Society members is deeply appreciated. It is hoped that the members will fulfill the
Board's wish that greater interest will be developed as a result of this close relationship
between the two organizations.
FALL ACTIVITIES AT THE SMALL DOME
Dan Brunton, Small Dome Co-ordinator.
Although activity was rather limited in September and October at the Small Dome,
some very worthwhile work was done.
Generally poor weekend weather did not stop Rick Salmon and Rick Lavery from
producing good photos of Comet Kilston.
We had three visitors to the Small Dome this fall. They came from the University
of Ottawa, the Toronto Centre R.A.S.C. and
The release form, allowing the holder access to the Small Dome, has been re-circulated.
I will have to have all release forms returned by Tuesday, November 8 1966 in order to
let the Dominion Observatory know the new list of members who may use the Small Dome.