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The Newsletter of the Ottawa Centre, RASC
|VOLUME 6 March 1967 ISSUE 3|
Editors Dan Brunton 2565 Elmhurst Street, Ottawa 14, Ont. 828-1473
Circulations Joe Dafoe 2366 Malone Cresc. Ottawa 5, Ont. 828-7681
One month of Centennial Year has now passed. I hope it was a good one
for you, from both an astronomical and nationalistic stand-point.
Not to forget this Centennial Year of ours, the Observers Group has
agreed on what form its Centennial Project will take. It was the suggestion of Tom
Tothill, our Observers Group chairman, that we go on a Centennial trip. Several different
locations were proposed, as diverse as Point Pelee near Leamington, Ont. to the Gatineau
Park just north of Hull, Quebec. It was finally agreed that Algonquin Park would be the
best. There was much discussion as to the best time to take this trip. We eventually
agreed that the end of August would be most convenient. This would allow for those members
who may be out of town this summer and who would be unable to attend at an earlier date.
The end of August also has the advantage of longer night hours. This will be a camping
trip and will last approximately a week. What a wonderful opportunity to show our
hardiness, get a good amount of observing in and participate in the Centennial! The
other major advantage of this site is that it allows for those who could possibly only
spare a few days, and don't want to spend most of this time travelling there and back!
This sounds like an excellent venture and will undoubtedly succeed.
One of the major e vents of the year was fulfilled with the presentation
of the “Observer of the Year, 1966" award. This is an honour I know we all would like to
warrent. I will not mention the name of the winner here, so you will just have to stay
in suspense until you " read all about it" on page 2! I do, however, wish to congratulate
the winner personally. I'm sure we all realize the great amount of work that went into
the winning of this coveted award. Again, congratulations!
Have a happy “Centennial" March and good seeing.
There have been several adjustments in the list of co-ordinators. The
following is the new lists
Comets and Meteors
Remember, we have co-ordinators because they are the best of the Group
in their particular fields. If you have a question that is within the area covered by
one of our co-ordinators, don't hesitate to ask him! If you have a question that you
feel will be of general interest, contact Astronotes and possibly we could have it
answered in the following issue.
You will have noticed that there are 3 vacancies in our co-ordinator
list. If you feel you can fill one of these, contact our chairman, Tom Tothill.
"Observer of the Year" Award. Fred Lossing, Instrumentation Co-ordinator.
The distinction "Observer of the Year" is, in the words of the original
motion, "awarded annually to the member of the Observers Group who has contributed most
to the advancement of Astronomy in the Group". The purpose of the award, which is
symbolized by a nicely-designed small pin, is to stimulate a keener interest in
observational astronomy among the members of the Group. In keeping with this purpose, the
selection is based primarily on actual observations and their value to astronomy and
to our Group as observers. Of course, construction of a useful piece of apparatus is
also a valuable contribution, but the emphasis should be on the use of such an apparatus
to obtain results of scientific value. This includes the communication of the results to
the proper authorities in the case of certain observations, or to the Observers Group
in other cases.
It is important to realize that this award is not made on a "Most Valuable
Member" basis, and it does not recognize the useful and time-consuming administrational
and supervisional contributions which some members have made during the year. Perhaps
we need a second award to take care of our recognition of suchservices!
The committee this year was happy to have five candidates, all with
considerable accomplishments, and we were able to pick a winner of the same quality as
Rick Salmon, who won the first award presented last year. The "Observer of the Year,
1966" is ..... Les MacDonald, for a fine record of observational, photographic and
constructional work. In 19 nights of meteor observation Les recorded 786 meteors, out
of a total of 3500 logged by 16 participants in the Queensway Terrace Group. Taken with
the 2,468 meteors logged by Peter Ryback's Elmvale Meteor Group, this is a bumper year
for the N.R.C. visual meteor program. Les also carried out a program of meteor photography,
using the automatic meteor camera whose construction he described in Astronotes for May
1966. He obtained, in the 172 hours of meteor photography ( less 58 hours of cloud)
records of 13 meteors as follows: 3 Perseids, 2 Orionids, 2 Geminids and others whose
radiants were traced to alpha-Capricornids, alpha-Gygnids, gamma-Draconids and alpha-
Aurigids. He got 11 good photographs of the bright aurora of September 3 /4 , at exposures
of 1-20 seconds on Ilford HFS (ASA 800).
Congratulations Les, the Observers Group is proud of you!
For future record it is worth noting that a selection committee of three
should be appointed at the first fall meeting, and notice should be given that anyone to
be considered for the Award should give a brief summary ( 2-3 pages) of his observational
work and other records of achievement to the committee by Dec. 15. The committee can
then make their choice in time for the January meeting ( and in time for the Annual Dinner
Who's for 1967?
With the index for Astronotes now complete, I hope many of you have already
arranged your issues in a usable form. You may have noticed the difficulty in finding
individual issues since all have the same cover page.
I find that a simple way to identify each individual issue is to put a
small tab on the top right-hand corner of the cover page. In this manner you can put
all issues in a folder or ringed binder and still be able to easily identify each issue
without having to look inside it!
On my set of Astronotes the tabs are stapled on, but I find these have a
tendency to grab on another issue. I would suggest you tape or glue on these tabs.
The tabs should contain the following information: Month and Year, Volume
and Issue number.
The following diagram illustrates this.
Observers Group February Meeting
The last meeting of the Observers Group was held on February 4 1967, with
36 members attending. Quite a wide variety of topics were covered at this meeting.
Dr.Fred Lossing announced that the Observer of the Year for 1966 was
Leslie MacDonald. Further details of his work in 1966 and the award, can be found in
Dr. Lossing's article on page 2 of this issue.
We also decided on a Centennial Project for the Observers Group and this
is dealt with in more detail in the Editorial on page 1.
Rick Lavery showed some slides of the "Quiet Site", which he took just
before our first snowfall, to acquaint the Group with the site.
Tom Tothill, our 1967 chairman, spoke on planetary occultations. This topic
will appear in the next issue of Astronotes.
The March Meeting of the main group, Ottawa Centre, R.A.S.C. will be
held on March 16 at the usual place, the library of the Geophysical Building. The speaker
will be Mr.Malcolm Thompson, Chief, Positional Astronomy Division, Dominion Observatory.
He will speak on the topic “Keeping Canada On Time". Mr.Thompson is probably better
known to R.A.S.C. members as our national president of this year.
Instrumentation Gordon Grant
Sidereal Time for 19.00 hrs at Ottawa, 1967 ( 0.5 min.) E.S.T.
Date July August September October November December
1 13 36 15 38 17 40 18 38 21 41 23 39
3 13 44 15 46 17 48 19 46 21 49 23 47
5 13 52 15 54 17 56 19 54 21 57 23 55
7 14 00 16 02 18 04 20 02 22 05 00 03
9 14 08 16 10 18 12 20 10 22 13 00 11
11 14 16 16 18 18 20 20 18 22 21 00 19
13 14 24 16 26 18 28 20 26 22 29 00 27
15 14 32 16 34 18 36 20 34 22 37 00 35
17 14 40 16 42 18 44 20 42 22 00 43
19 14 48 16 50 18 52 20 50 22 53 00 51
21 14 56 16 58 19 00 20 58 23 01 00 59
23 15 04 17 06 19 08 21 06 23 09 01 07
25 15 12 17 14 19 16 21 14 23 17 01 15
27 15 20 17 22 19 24 21 22 23 25 01 23
29 15 28 17 30 19 32 21 30 23 33 01 31
31 15 36 17 38 21 38 01 39
(The sidereal time chart for January to June 1967 appeared in a previous
issue of Astronotes ( see Astronotes,Vol.6, Issue 1) complete with instructions. It is
hoped that the members will make full use of this helpful chart. ED)
Small Dome Rick Salmon, Co-ordinator.
During the Christmas holidays there was a meeting, at the Observatory,
of the Senior observers to iron out a few difficulties and to plan a general course of
action at the Small Dome.
Among other things, members using the Dome were classified into three
observing classifications - either Senior, B or C, according to the amount of use they
have made of the Small Dome. It should be pointed out that these classifications are
not rigid controls, but purely a device by which it may be possible that, when the Dome
is in use, someone who is responsible and who is completely familiar with the use of the
equipment, will be present.
A general plan for an attempt at using cooled emulsion photography, another
to get one of the spectrographs working well, to start lunar photography, and hopes to
get more adults using the Dome, were discussed. It should be emphasized with regards to
this latter point, that it now takes little more than 10 minutes at the eye-piece of
the scope to get a photograph that can give beautiful detail on almost any Messier
This month we will look at the constellation Gemini. Early Roman soldiers
swore oaths "by Gemini", the same oath of course to-day is repeated as "by jimini".
Gemini was one of the original constellations of Ptolemy, and probably has the greatest
concentration of multiple stars of any constellation.
There are many stars of interest in Gemini but I only intend to deal
with a few at this time.
Alpha Geminorum, Castor: - the finest double in the northern hemisphere
and greenish-white in colour. Each star is a spectroscopic binary with a period of
revolution between each pair of about 347 years. There is also a faint third member of
this system lying almost in the same line of sight. It is also a spectroscopic binary.
This third star is about 38 lt.yrs. distant from the main group. Each of the brighter
stars in the two main pairs is at least six times as bright as the sun, but much less
dense. Castor is receeding from us at the rate of four miles a second. It was originally
considered the brighter of the twins, as indicated by the designation, Alpha.
Beta Geminorum, Pollux: The name is latin in origin and refers to Zeus'
other twin; Castor being the first. Pollux is actually the brighter of the two s tars with
a magnitude of 1.2 . Orange in colour, it is a multiple star with at least six stars in its
system. Pollux is about 16 times the diameter of the sun and is about 33 lt.yrs. distant,
compared to Castor's 38 lt.yrs. Both Castor and Pollux are navigational stars because
of their proximity to the ecliptic.
Eta Geminorum, Propus: a long period variable whose light ranges from
3.2 to 0.6 ( visual magnitude and absolute magnitude). It is not a true double, but a
fainter companion of 10th magnitude does exist. Propus is famous in its own right, for
it was in the year 1781 that Henschel discovered Uranus very close by. Propus is about
200 lt. yrs. away and has a radial velocity of 19.0 km/sec. and a proper motion of 0.066
seconds. Just north of Propus is the galactic cluster M-35.
Theta Geminorum: - It is not now a double but could have been one. It
has a magnitude of 3.6. In March 1912 an astronomer named Sigurd Enebos discovered a new
star just south of Theta. It was yellowish-white in colour and about magnitude 4. Like
most novae it diminished rapidly and now is fainter than magnitude 11.
Hillcrest Group Report
Clouds ! That’s what dominated the Ottawa skys for most of January. As
a result, outdoor observations were cut to a minimum. What there was is summarized in
the following table.
E.M.O.G. Nights 10 min. periods Meteors Av. no. of Obser.
4 25 24 2
However, the weather did not stop our indoor observing. Paul Dawn and
I used the cloudy weather advantageously by repairing and improving the mechanical parts
of the automatic meteor camera. Two members of the club, David Parton and George
Bothwell were busy preparing a colour film on the activities of the club, which is to
be shown at the Hillcrest Annual Open House ( March 3). Parts for a 2½ inch phototelescope
were ordered by the club. Finally, arrangements were made for the group to
observe at the Springhill Meteor Observatory on February 10/11.