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Vol. 12, No. 3
A S T R O N O T E S
$2.00 a year March, 1973
Editor: Tom Tothill 22 Delong Drive, K1J 7E6
Addresses: Mary Grey Dom . Observatory, 994-5474
Circulation: Ted Bean 399 McLeod Street, K2P 1A5
'BYE FROM ED.
Finding a new Editor for Astronotes has been a matter of concern for some months. We tried democratic methods at the December elections, but nobody allowed his name to stand. Now we are forced into strong-arm methods, appropriately known as the "press gang", and it seems hopeful at the moment that this will provide a really first-class person to fill these second-class shoes. Though he shall be nameless for the moment, since we do not yet have him bound and manacled on board, his name will head the next issue and will be a pleasant surprise.
Several people have volunteered help in easing his task until he gets into the routine. Dr. Lossing has offered to see it through the printer and look after the necessary forms. Our regulars will, certainly, keep him supplied with material as staunchly as ever, and - think of it - he will be the only person to know how Hotpill gets out of the corner he has painted Schlossing into.
There are so many people to thank that it better begin here. First there is the Observers Group as a whole, for willingly contributing articles without any kind of pressure being needed. The coordinators, through the years, have regularly kept their field of interest before the members, nearly always by personal example. Those who have developed expertise in certain fields have generously shared it with us. In that category one thinks of the
clever and wonderful series by Allen Miller on telescope construction (hopefully not finished), Rolf Meier's series on photography which has his usual thorough understanding,
Jon Buchanan's series on variables, and Ken Hewitt-White's meteor news written always in his effortless and attractive style. Of course, we always welcome new names too, and
they are equally to be thanked.
'Bye for now. No thanks needed - it's been fun!
OBSERVERS GROUP MEETING - FEB 2 Cathy Hall
Ken Hewitt-White opened our meeting with several announcements: 1 ) Pay your membership fees - rates for students may soon be upped at 18. 2) Ideas for posters and displays for the General Assembly are in order, so ...think! 3 ) Can you billet Assembly attendees? Contact Ken, 4) Beginners meeting on Feb 16 will include trip to North Mountain. 5) Solar eclipse fans - don’t despair! A '73 expedition via Casablanca still has space.
Speaking of solar, Barry Matthews brought to attention several new means to protect the eyes while observing - a special solar eyepiece recently put on the market ($l8ish), and a lightweight sheet filter material ($6 to 20, depending on size) sold by Roger Tuthill.
Mars is on the rise again! Look in your morning sky. You will not see such detail as on the new National Geographic map (that is, unless you own a Mariner!), but all observations are appreciated by our planetary coordinator, Rolf Meier.
As to variable observations, Jon Buchanan announced the program for 1973 - 3 compulsory stars: R Scuti, TX Piscum, U Monocerotis, and three optional (on approval).
Next, our deep sky coordinator, Rob Dick, showed slides of various M objects. How many members of Messier's catalogue can you find? Let your coordinator know.
The recent results (or lack of!) of the meteor team were mentioned by Ken H.-W. The Geminids and Quadrantids suffered from poor weather.
For those interested in mirror grinding (a thoroughly fascinating pastime!), several mirrors indifferent stages of completion were displayed, courtesy of Ted Bean, and of David Wiseman and the Merivale High Astronomy Club.
Lastly, Dr. Lossing gave a very interesting technical explanation of why there are discrepancies between the colour perception of the eye and that of photographic film. To illustrate the latter, he showed a slide of M42, which to date must surely be the slide of M42! It was beautiful!
CHAIRMAN'S REVIEW - OF '72 Tom Tothill
In every respect but one, 1972 was a good year for the Observers Group. That one respect was the weather! Even from sunny Italy we hear that clouds were the rule rather than the exception. The explanation is easy to pinpoint: our Swami was using his persuasive powers on his wife-to-be instead of on Murphy!
This was the first year of operation of North Mountain Observatory, and began with an interesting program on a quasar, OJ 287, followed by a great deal of photography whose quality improved spectacularly as the year went on and techniques improved, teething troubles with freezing-up of drive motors and dewing of the 16-inch mirror were overcome, and a modus vivendi was worked out for revenues and use of the instrument. The year ended with an encouraging financial position and a thick logbook.
The Group's solar eclipse expedition to the Gaspe was one of the highlights of the year, and 65 people turned up at our site in Les Mechins provided with great courtesy by Capt. Verreault. Those who were self-contained and very mobile had some success by driving off to better skies at the last moment; but this also, unfortunately, led to the loss of the Paterson car, whose occupants by great good fortune were only bruised. We owe a debt of gratitude to Peter Ashenhurst of Hamilton for his prompt and powerful aid after the accident.
The spectacular aspects of the year, without a doubt, were created by the journeys of Allen Miller's 'Star Truk' and its motley crew. Not content with merely driving to the General Assembly in Vancouver, they continued on to a grand tour of the great observatories of California and Arizona and brought back superb movies and slides. Then in December they set course for Florida for the launch of Apollo 17 and, if anything, outdid their previous efforts.
My thanks to the 'spark-plugs' (like Ken Hewitt-White) and to the 'participators' (too many to name) for a most enjoyable year. Most especially, I would like to thank the 'contributors' for the finest-ever set of Astronotes.
METEOR REPORT - 1972 Ken Hewitt-White
Well, better late than never. There are still some meagre 1972 results sitting on ten-inch Ampex reels at the Quiet Site but it appears they will stay that way until spring time. This report cannot wait until then, though.
1972 was not a favourable year for the meteor team. Clouds obscured every meteor shower max but one, and most observers were otherwise too preoccupied with telescope activities to take up meteor observing very actively. Still, 50 nights were recorded and a new face emerged as (easily) the leading observer. She is Joan Hoskinson, officially of the Vancouver Centre but otherwise an Observers Group regular, who accumulated 1238 meteors in 21 nights of observing. This admits Joan to the select 1000 club, to which only four others belong. Congratulations, Joan!
The group count for 1972 officially stands at 47 nights for 3205 meteors on 4157 sightings with an average of (only) 2.7 observers participating. The unrecorded tapes at QS will not significantly alter these totals as they represent low-activity nights; some day, they'll get decoded.
It would appear that the meteor team is in need of a major overhaul if it is to flourish again this summer. This overhaul will have to include a new meteor coordinator as well, since the present one, regrettably, must give up the post to make way for other activities. These include being in Europe and Africa for a time, where he cannot properly run a team, and later, possibly moving from Ottawa.
One of the things I would like to do before I go is to complete some repairs at QS, including painting the coffins and completing some carpentry in the van. This would put the QS in fine shape for any visits during the General Assembly and prepare it for some (hopefully) active summer observing. Interested persons wishing to help in this endeavour should give me a shout. I shall be wielding the first paint brush early in April.
The observing record for '72 is given overleaf.
Meteor Observers. 1972
Brennan, P. 58 6:10
Brennan, R . 165 7:30
Buchanan, J . 131 11:00
Davis, Miss L . 68 8:00
Dick, R. 9 2:50
Hall, Miss C . 305 31:10
Hache, J. 275 10:40
Hewitt-White, K . 583 45:50
Hoskinson, Miss J. 1238! 79:40!!
MacDonald, L. 294 19:20
Martin, C . 500 25:10
Meier, R. 197 16:20
Miller, A. 124 5:50
Paterson, D . 77 11:00
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THE WHIRLPOOL GALAXY Rob Dick
Coming around into good observing position is M51, (NGC 5194). This Messier object is one of the most interesting galaxies in the sky. It is found in CANES VENATICI (The Hunting Dogs) at ...
... and is called the Whirlpool because of its spiral arms that are so distinct and loosely wound. It has been determined to be about 14 million light-years away.
Its structure is that of a late-type spiral (Sc 1), about 11' x 7' across. At NMO the arms are well seen and on a good night the bridge between the main component (5194) and its small companion ( 5195, 3 ' x 2 ') can easily be seen.
NGC 5195 is approx 4' north of the parent and is magnitudes dimmer than the parent, at about 9.5
The spiral structure of M 51 was first noted by the Earl of Rosse in 1845 with his 72" reflector. He could trace the arms for 1 1⁄2 turns.
South of M51 are two small NCG-catalogued galaxies about mag 1 3 . Neither are shown on the Norton's charts. The Skalnate Pleso has one but it is not given a number.
At the March meeting, Rolf Meier will (I hope) show his recent photograph of the threesome.
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There will be prizes for the Best Individual display and the Best Centre display at the 1973 General Assembly in Ottawa, May 25 - 27. Get cracking, Canada, y' hear?
Accommodation at Carleton University will be $10 a night including 3 meals — all you can eat!
Students may apply for accommodation in members' homes
NEWS ON COMETS Rolf Meier
On Feb 5 / 6 , comet Heck-Sause was found in the 16-inch telescope at North Mountain Observatory. It was first discovered in late 1972 on plates taken with a 24-inch Schmidt at Mt. Palomar. Perihelion occurred on Oct 7, 1972 at a distance of 2.52 A.U. from the sun.
Photographic and visual observations on Feb 10/11 indicate a broad tail about 1⁄4° long with several components visible. At that time it was moving along in Ursa Major among clusters of galaxies that could make it tricky to distinguish, but its rapid motion relative to the star background makes identification not difficult.
The given magnitude was around 12, but we estimate a total magnitude of 11.0 to 11.5 . This comet looks better indeed than Giacobini-Zinner did in late 1972.
For information on this and other comets, contact the comet coordinator, Jon Buchanan,
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HYPERING FILM (EASY WAY?) Rick Salmon #
Several articles have appeared lately in various journals, on a simple and very effective method of increasing film speed (decreasing reciprocity failure) without introducing fogging or increasing grain size of the emulsion, Simply evacuate - or de-gas the emulsion BEFORE exposure; then use the film normally as soon as possible afterwards. The increased efficiency of the emulsion can be maintained after evacuation by storing the film in a dry oxygen-free atmosphere - say nitrogen or CO2 . Once introduced to 'normal' atmospheric conditions, the increase in speed should last at least a few hours.
It's a project worthy of anyone in school - your science dept, usually has a vacuum pump good enough for the purpose. Try this one - expose a few frames of 35mm film as usual, then rewind, leaving the leader out.
# Our plenipotentate in Chile. And I do mean pleni. -Ed.
Stick the film can (and film) into a suitable "chamber” and evacuate for a day - then take the same shots over again, remembering not to double-expose the frames you've already shot!
Remember, the effect of evacuation is usually (not always) to reduce reciprocity failure - so the effect will show up best on long exposures, maybe not at all for 1-5 minute shorties. Try it on colour film and 1 hr exposures!
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Rick has had no luck so far for photometry of OJ 287; telescope time is precious hard to get.
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BEGINNER TALKS - FEB 16 Barry; Rob Ken!
It was heading for 15 Below, but 20 members showed up, Barry started off with a talk on how to determine the field of a scope (remember that old stuff?). As usual, Barry talked too much leaving no time for Hewitt's revelation of the wonders of the Universe, namely how to observe sky objects. Ken made a very good point: "Don't expect to see M42 like you see in books," Train your eyes.
Rob 'finished them off' with that elusive subject of RA and Dec, explaining the intricacies of finding the object using right ascension and declination.
Although all was in order for the intended viewing session at North Mountain, we decided that it was too cold for anyone but Eskimos, none of whom showed up.
The next Beginners Session will be held on March 23. Subject; R.A.S.C. Coordinatorship . All coordinators are asked to attend.
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THIS SPACE RESERVED...
... for cracks by Red Schlossing, but none came in.
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Small wonder - he’s beyond the light barrier.
THE GRAND FINALE Rolf Meier
With the launch of Apollo 17 ended the greatest product of technology in the history of mankind. The result of research and development over the last decade
in the exploration of outer space is concentrated at Cape Kennedy, Florida, Here are the complexes from which hundreds of probes have been launched into outer space, including twenty-seven vehicles carrying men.
The dominant structure in the area is the Vehicle Assembly Building, easily visible over the ocean from over twenty miles away. It is perhaps the largest building in the world by volume, a giant five-hundred-foot cube sitting in the flat, open marshland of the Kennedy Space Center, More important than its impressive size is its functions the nerve centre of Launch Complex 39# where Saturn rockets are assembled to carry the heaviest payloads into space, like those which landed men on the moon.
The interior of the VAB is essentially one room, where there are four assembly bays for the construction of Saturn V and Saturn IB rockets. Elevators accelerate upward to twelve hundred feet per minute with equipment and men to work on the missiles which stand by their special mobile launchers. When the months of building and checkout are over, the world's largest tracked vehicle comes in to lift the rocket together with its launch platform and launch tower and move it the three miles to the pad.
The journey takes seven hours, for the speed of the Crawler Transporter rarely exceeds one mile per hour. In the last few hundred yards the crawler climbs a 5 % slope up to the pad. During this stage, the launch platform is tilted to keep the rocket vertical within ten minutes of arc.
With the entire assembly erected on the pad, the crawler brings in an additional piece of equipment, the four-hundred-foot Mobile Service Structure (MSS), which will enable technicians to make final adjustments on the rocket. The MSS is rolled back from the rocket hours before launch.
The rollback of the MSS from Apollo 17 was awesome indeed, for the event occurred at night under the intense white light of Xenon searchlights. From half a mile away we saw the crawler silently move in and slowly draw back the MSS. The Saturn V now stood on the pad poised and ready for action.
In the early morning, a unique configuration of the planets stood above the Apollo 17 rocket. From our place to the west, we were in a position to see the sun rise directly behind the Saturn. In the twilight, the Xenon searchlights still reached all the way across the sky. Directly above the rocket was the planet Mercury, and higher still were Venus and Mars. Daylight grew stronger, and at last the sun came out asking a black shadow of the rocket that was a white monolith at night. The rocket stood static for its last day.
The prelaunch activity at Launch Complex 39 is controlled from the Launch Control Center, a four-story building adjacent to the VAB. In a room filled with equipment linked to tracking stations over the world and to Mission Control in Houston, men monitor the numerous systems critical to the proper functioning of the rocket. From sixty-two different television cameras, every angle of the rocket is surveyed, The launch is controlled largely by computer because of the vast amount of data to be processed.
The atmosphere on the evening of the Apollo 17 launch was filled with anticipation of seeing a sight that may never be repeated. The Saturn V was static no more, for vapour streaming from the rocket indicated that it had been fuelled, and was indeed "alive". From three miles away was heard the hiss of the venting gas, which must have been a deafening roar close up.
The sky was clear, but a distant thunderstorm over the ocean behind the rocket cast occasional flashes of lightning on the horizon.
The tension mounted as we awaited the launch. Everything proceeded as planned. With a minute to go, it seemed. as though nothing could stop the progress of the countdown, and yet the rocket had stood still so long that it might not ever move. At the thirty second mark a strange venting occurred,
A very large cloud of gas erupted near the junction of the first and second stages. It was followed by a faint thud fifteen seconds later when the sound reached our ears. The zero mark came and went with no more changes to be seen. It was a moment of intense disappointment when we learned that there was a problem which would delay the launch. There were only a few hours to rectify the problem, or else the Barth, Sun, and Moon would not be properly aligned for a good moon landing.
The difficulty was in a detection by the computer which controlled the launch of a deviation from the proper launch procedure. Because an automatic system had failed to pressurize an oxygen tank, it was done manually by a NASA technician, but the computer felt that this was out of order. The problem was corrected and we were once more prepared for a launch.
This time all went well. A silent flame appeared at the base of the rocket. It billowed upward, illuminating thousands of acres of swamp land with a strange yellow glow. The heaviest rocket ever to leave the earth rose upward, slowly at first, then faster. Just as it cleared the launch tower, we were assaulted with a sound of thunder. The light and sound was all around us, The rocket flew out over the ocean. In two and a half minutes the spectacle changed. The second stage ignited in a puff of smoke, and continued onwards as a bright white star, to finally disappear beyond the horizon. The last Apollo spaceship was on its way to the moon.
Launch Complex 39 now stands with no more Moon Missions to occupy its facilities. It could have continued to function for many years assembling and launching big rockets. Because of the few projects it did handle the cost of a mission looks great, but make no mistake about it, here is the first system made for launching many big rockets at lower cost.
There are two more manned projects planned by NASA. Starting this year is Skylab. The space station for this project will be launched with a Saturn V, and a day later three men will be launched aboard a leftover Apollo capsule atop a Saturn IB. They will join up with the space station for stays up to fifty-six days. Human reactions to extended space journeys will be tested. The astronauts will perform many scientific observations while in orbit.
There is an important aspect to one final Apollo mission in which a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft will link up with the Apollo spacecraft using an adapter that the Americans are working on. This is a step towards international cooperation in space exploration.
The final manned project is the Shuttle. This is a totally re-usable spacecraft, designed to be launched many times. It would land like an ordinary airplane. The booster to launch it will also be reusable. With the Shuttle, objects in Earth orbit can be retrieved or new objects can be placed in orbit. Because it is reusable, it will be very much cheaper to run than present-day missions.
All these projects are not without a final goal. Imagine a mission to a near-by planet, say Mars. The spacecraft is huge, for much equipment is needed for the long journey. In fact it had to be built in Earth orbit. The astronauts are well prepared for the trip. When they get to Mars there will be no difficulty landing, for they are ready for that too. They are trained to make good observations. They have an idea of what to expect, for Mariner and Viking probes have surveyed the planet's surface. They return safely, and are brought to Earth by a shuttle craft.
Such a mission could take place in 1986, when the planets Earth and Mars will be in the most favourable position for the rest of this century. In fact, the
mission is well planned at this time. All that is needed is approval by the United States Congress. The experience and technology of Apollo, Skylab, and Shuttle, together with launch facilities such as Launch Complex 39 make such a project quite feasible. It would be an inevitable extension of the existing capabilities.
VARIABLES (6) Jon Buchanan
Of all the variables mentioned to date, there remains only the semi-regular and irregular stars in the pulsating class to discuss.
Not much extra can be added that the names themselves don't describe. Semi-regular variables are late-type giants and supergiants, with magnitudes ranging over less than 3 magnitudes. Some examples of these stars should be familiar to observers as Betelgeuse, Alpha Hercules, and R Lyrae. Periods for such stars are difficult to ascertain because they are semi-regular, and hence their name.
Irregular variables have, as might be expected, no detectable period. These stars have slow variations of less than 4 magnitudes. Example stars are Rho Cassiopeiae, V Antliae, and V Aquilae.
This then rounds up the group of p ulsating variables. Another group of variables still exixts though, and these are called Eruptive variables. Some may consider eruptive variables as special types of pulsating variables, only with violent pulses. You may think that, but whereas giants and supergiants populate the pulsing class, with other stars of roughly middle age, eruptive variables are populated with dwarfs and other stars of ancient or young
age, and they are far more violent in their nature than pulsating variables.
To whet your appetite, try to visualize a dark sky, filled with stars. You become aware, suddenly, of a star that seems out of place, and as you watch you see it get brighter and brighter until it is very bright - about the brightness of a full moon! And only in a matter of seconds, if that long. This is my pitiful attempt at describing a supernova in this galaxy. It is difficult to describe one, as they are rare events as far as man is concerned.
This is just one of the class of eruptive variables to be dealt with next.
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THE PRODUCTION OF ASTRONOTES Tom Tothill
Since we are about to get a new Editor, I feel I should set down what is involved in producing Astronotes, partly for his benefit and partly, perhaps, for the benefit of other Centres who may wish to start a newsletter.
Some Centres seem to have an Editorial Committee and quite a chain of command. We feel ours is as short as it can be made - namely, an Editor who collects the contributions and types them in final form on plain paper, a professional Printer who makes Electro-Static masters from the typed pages and prints them, a Centre Secretary who keeps the address list and gets the covers addressed, and finally a Circulation manager who assembles the pages together, staples them, and posts them.
Since the Printer needs some weekdays (usually 2) for his work, and since the Editor’s hunt-and-peck technique takes a weekend, and since the Circulation man also needs a weekend, contributions have to be in 2 weeks before the next Observers Group meeting, which is the first Friday of the month. The reason for that is that postage is now more costly than Astronotes itself, and by taking all the Observers Group copies to the meetings we can save about 50 stamps per issue. In addition, 30 copies for NRC and EMR members can be made up by someone in NRC or EMR and got to them directly. (The Ed. has done this on getting the material back from the Printer.)
So let's start at the beginning and go through the steps for one issue. On Friday night someone turns up at the Editor's home with the contributions that haven't been sent in by mail. When he is sure that everything is in, he estimates the length of each article as best he can within page, adds them up, and finds, say, that it comes to 15 1⁄2 pages. He now knows that it is going to be an 18-page issue, since our format demands 2, 6, 10, 14, 18 etc pages. He also knows that he is going to have to write something himself to fill up the remaining space, or leave big blanks between articles. However, the PI (pre
sent incumbent) usually finds quite a few odd items that need mentioning, and can't resist the odd snide remark, so the surplus is rarely as much as 3 pages.
Of course, it occasionally happens that the material looks as if it is very close to a permissible page number like, say, 14, In that case the Editor feels free - and make no mistake, the Editor is the Boss! - to squeeze a bit. Quite a few articles can be improved by the removal of repetitious statements and excessive ponderousness. If the worst came to the worst, something that will not be out of date next month can be held over.
For the 18-page issue, 9 or 10 sheets of 8 1/2 X 11 paper are ruled down the middle and a scheme of what articles go where roughed out, with an eye to putting the lighter stuff between the heavier stuff, the past before the future, and distributing several articles by one author. As many articles as possible start at the top of a page, and those with diagrams start on a left page so the reader doesn't have to turn the page back and forth to refer from text to diagram. The biggest and best contribution usually starts on the left centre page as a place of honour.
The successive sheets, typed on one side only, will be numbered 1 and 18, 17 and 2, 3 and 16. This one is 15 and 4. And so on to the centre page which is 9 and 10. I usually start typing page 2, always on the right. Cathy is good at sending an exact page worth, needing neither 'squeeze' nor 'pad'. The typewriter margins for this small-size type go at 71 and 130 , the tab at 76 for paragraph indents, and the paper is put in on its long edge. I adjust the left edge of the paper always exactly to 0, so that if I have to put it back in for a correction later I only have to adjust it the same way. Coming to the
bottom of the page, I roll the carriage back by hand rather than electrically and find that it seldom slips out of line even right at the bottom.# (I used to tape the page to the roller for the last line or two, but was forever forgetting.)
#It did this time - natch!
Then comes page 3 , on the left, with margins at 6 and 65 , indent tab at 11. And so on, I try to fill each page as I go, with odd items. These new chalk-backed strips for corrections are the 'editor's friend' - so much faster and simpler than that white guck! It is always faster to correct immediately than get at it later.
By the time you come to the last contribution or two you know whether there is room for an editorial on page 1, and pretty well how much you are going to have to fake up at the back. Serious articles are fine, of course, but unless you are a genius it is difficult to make your subject fit the available space without looking contrived. My solution to this problem is well known and virtually infinitely elastic; all you need is an opener, a punch line, and let your imagination rip in between! Actually, it is quite a relief by that time to simply sit and bang away without having to peer at a script.
So, after finishing page 1 and 18 on both halves, all that remains is to proof-read the whole thing a few times and correct the boobs. Bad ones can sometimes be faked up by changing the author's wording so that it will fit the available spaces, but if the worst comes to the worst a page may have to be re-typed and attached with tape to its companion page. (The whole of Astronotes could, of course, be typed on 5 1⁄2 x 8 1⁄2 - sheets and assembled into 2-page units with tape, but I find that a lot of trouble).
Diagrams are re-drawn only as a last resort. The authors usually do a good enough job to make clear what they want to illustrate, and I simply cut out their diagrams and tape them on to the sheet, having left enough room when typing. If they don't come out too well, it is an encouragement to the author to do better next time!
Now, to get it to the printer - preferably not later than noon Monday. We have long been using the NEC printer, and he is used to Astronotes and has often obliged with a remarkably fast job - like one Christmas eve when he turned the whole thing out in two hours flat (so his boys could get on with their Christmas party!). He needs a requisition from some authorized person in NRC with the proper instructions, plus the originals, plus 250 (at present) Astronotes covers which we get printed in 2500 copies once a year. It would save a lot of time if the covers could be pre-addressed before going to the printer but it is possible for him to lose a few in the printing so they still have to be addressed afterwards.
Some NRC person should get the printed sheets (it is too expensive for us to have him fold, assemble, and staple), assemble the NRC and EMR copies, and get the rest to Mary Grey for addressing by Thursday night at the latest. She then gets them to Ted Bean for assembly and posting.
CLOUD ED OUT Barry Matthews
The average amateur astronomer usually stays as far away as he or she can from numerical astronomy. After a little bit of investigation I found that the reason varies from amateur to amateur. The main one, however, is that they don't understand the basic concepts.
This month I plan to introduce another new addition to our Library, namely E.A. Beet's "Mathematical Astronomy for Amateurs", book #206 in our Library. The book itself is a clear and simple introduction to the calculations that form the basis for all astronomical laws and observations. This book can be read through for pleasure as there are many recommendations for practical experiments indoors and at the telescope. However this volume really comes into its own as a guide to those who would like to calculate stellar or planetary position through exercises and answers.
The author Mr. E.A. Beet is well versed in astronomical fields having taught astronomy to a large variety of audiences and authored a number of astronomical books. He is a former Secretary and past President of the British Astronomical Association.
When you are clouded out for a lengthy period or have broken bones from skiing, and can't get to the scope, take a look at "Mathematical Astronomy for Amateurs".
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THE SCHLOSSING SAGA (20) Tom Tothill
"Sacre Bleu!" said Schlossing, and carefully ticked the column in the log-book headed "French Spoken Today". Then, noting that at least one of the clocks was past midnight, he added: "Zut!" and ticked the next day as well. He noted with satisfaction that he hadn’t missed a day so far.
"Problem Number One," he said to himself. "Here I am almost half way to Planet X, with almost half my fuel gone. When I get there, I'll have none. Does Tean expect to find satellites in orbit around Planet X that I can re-fuel on? If so, he's a much bigger optimist than I am, and now I can't even talk to him and give him the piece of my mind that he so richly deserves!"
That last thought really bothered Schlossing far more than his predicament and he fumed about it for quite some time under his breath. Then he began to notice a very curious thing.
Previously, since leaving Earth, when he had muttered to himself under his breath he hadn't been able to hear himself, and had been forced to vent his feelings aloud to get any satisfaction. But now, he could hear his own muttering as plain as day! Suddenly a great light broke - the noise of the rocket motor was down to a whisper! He immediately looked at the g-meter, and saw with relief that it was still right on 1 g. In case it was stuck, he even shut down the motor for a minute and watched it drop to zero. No, it was okay. Back on power again, he felt as usual, and found he could do just the same number of press-ups as he could at home, so it wasn't under-reading either. Three press-ups is three press-ups in any book.
"So if the motor is turning itself down as we go, and I still have one g, I must be on track as far as progress is concerned, and the motor is using less fuel! So when I get to Planet X I won't be out of fuel! In fact, by that time the motor will be down to a purr and I doubt I'll even be able to hear it on the way back. Bedlington, my boy, you're smarter than you look!"
So saying, Schlossing toasted Tean and the entire ground organization with another beer, but would have died rather than admit to it.
He relaxed for a while as a pleasant glow suffused his mind and body. Perhaps there was some merit in this ridiculous prank of a journey after all. At any rate no newspaper had put up some ridiculous sum of money for the first person to reach Planet X in an effort to create its own exclusive news story. Just Astronotes.
Suddenly he arose, startled. A message was coming in from Planet X! It was repeated three times, and he got the second and third down so he was sure of no mistakes
Ms. Rosemary Freeman
The Royal Astronomical
Society of Canada
252 College St.,
Toronto 130, Ontario.