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Rolf Meier, 77 Meadowlands Dr.W., K2G 2R9
Mary Grey, Dominion Observatory, 994-5474
Ted Bean, 399 McLeod Street, K2P 1A5
"What will the Christmas Monster bring?" is the ques
tion asked on the dramatic cover of a hand-out leaflet.
Will the huge Comet Kohoutek, seven times as bright as the
moon, signify the end of the world as we know it? Of course
not, but there are actually people who believe that this
comet means more than our scientists and rulers are telling
us. The surprising thing is that they are able to produce
a remarkable 42-paragraph declaration claiming that they
have been kept ignorant of this spectacular phenomenon, all
the while creating numerous false impressions of Comet
Kohoutek, and saying things which are simply not true.
Moses David and his "Children of God" are an extreme
example, and I doubt that any thinking individual will take
his prophesy of doom seriously. However, even the usually
reliable Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is guilty of
exageration and distortion of facts. Even the question of
whether there will be any danger when we pass through the
comet’s tail indicates the stupidity of some of the garbage
the general public is getting.
It is natural for someone with a lack of interest in a
subject to have little knowledge of it, but that is no ex
cuse for the news media to demonstrate its ignorance so
effectively. If faith is to be restored in those who inform
us, could they not at least get some background information
in what they are supposed to be talking about?
OBSERVERS GROUP MEETING - NOVEMBER 2
Ted Bean opened the meeting with several announcements:
1) December 4 will be a film night with "Birth and Death
of a Star" and "Exploring the Milky Way."
2) The annual dinner meeting will be held on January 15 at
the R.A. Center.
Meteor observing activities were talked about by Chris
Martin, who described results of the Orionid an Taurid
showers. For those interested in observing the comingGeminid (Dec. 13-14) and Ursid (Dec. 22-23) showers, con
tact Chris et 236-2868 or Les MacDonald, 225-1140. Try it-
you’ll like it! Need a ride out to the site? Our infor
mation person, Holly Allan, said several words encourag
ing all those with transportation difficulties to give
her a call.
Following this, Karine Langley discussed the geometry
of space, giving one of the few theoretical talks that
the Observers Group has experienced.
Our asteroid enthusiast, Doug Welch, showed a vari
ety of slides, and told how to observe the transit of
Mercury on November 10.
Some truly excellent color shots of Mars and Jupiter
were shown by Ed ter Heijden, who continues to have great
success with his 16mm camera setup. Still on planets,
Rolf Meier mentioned the possibilities of a dust storm
recently on Mars. He also gave a brief rundown on obser
vations of Comet Kohoutek so far. It had an obvious
tail as seen in the 16-inch and could be seen easily as
a fuzzy patch in binoculars.
Lastly, awards and nominations were discussed. The
awards committee for this year - Ted Bean, Karl Poirier,
and Rolf Meier - will accept written descriptions of your
observing activities up to December 31. Just write up a
summary of what you did this past year and hand or mail
it to one of them for a chance at the "Observer of the
Year" award. If you have been observing variable stars,
please give your magnitude estimates to Jon Buchanan
before this date as well, if you would like to try for
the "Variable Star Award".
Nominations for positions in 1974 were:
Chairman........Jon Buchanan, Ted Bean
Vice-Chairman.. .Barry Matthews, Doug Welch, Karl Poirier
Recorder....... Chris Martin, Holly Allan
The following were unanimoulsy elected
As for coordinators, a motion was passed that the
Chairman, Vice-Chairman, and secretary be elected from
the floor and that they appoint coordinators as they see
fit. The Editor will be elected to provide due recog
nition of his services.THE GREAT TRANSIT OF 1973
It was a clear night, November 9, with a full moon
glaring down and eliminating most of the stars. Rolf Meier
picked me up at Doug Welch's home from where we proceeded
to Cathy Hall’s around 2 am. Then we went to North Moun
tain, a site where we hoped we would have a clear horizon.
Doug Welch's prediction of an altitude of the sun of 8°
sent frenzy into our expediton for finding a horizon which
was unobstructed. Eight degrees isn't much when you come
to think of it. Upon arriving, the Super Sixteen, Rolf’s
6-inch, and Jon Buchanan's 2.4-inch (permanently borrowed)
telescopes were set up. And there they sat for the rest
of the night. We were not discouraged that easily, so we
waited for the clouds to break (in case you've never been
on a transit expedition, there were clouds now) in the club
house. The clouds didn't break up, so at 5 am we packed
up, much against Doug's protests. We told him he could
stay if he liked, but at 5:30 we were all at Rolf's house
looking for a horizon. After this many defeats, we still
couldn't get a horizon! (It was clear now, of course, since
we had passed the "point of no return" from N.M.O .)
After dropping off half our load, we went the the
next logical place...
At the Transit
...Mr, Barry Matthew’s home. And here we did see the
transit, very easily in Mr. Matthews' and Mr. Welch's tele
scopes. Some pictures were taken by Rolf, Doug, Mr.
Matthews, and myself. Much to his dismay, Doug’s altitude
calculations were not quite right, but his times were
quite accurate. The disc was easily seen when you looked
for it on the sun’s face. All in all, I think it was a
semi-rewarding experience that we may all remember for a
year, at least.
# # # ##
OBSERVATIONS OF KOHOUTEK
# # # #
Although only visible at a completely unreasonable
hour (5 am), Comet Kohoutek has indeed been seen by some
ambitious observers (see next page). It seems that the
comet is following the least optimistic set of magnitude
predictions, and thus a new set of data has been devised,
(see next page, opposite) The information is from avariety of sources including BAA circular No. 549 and
Dr. Lorne Avery of NRG.
On December 19 the comet will pass close to Antares,
and in early January it will make an interesting configur
ation with Jupiter and Venus.
# # # # # # # # #
Observer Date R. Meier Oct. 1 16-inch
R. Meier Oct. 22 16-inch
C. Hall Nov. 3 8 x 30 binos
D. Welch Nov. 18 7 x 35 binos
10 x 50 binos
10 x 50 binos
very faint fuzzy
patch, no tail or
tail about 10' long,
easily seen as a
"fuzzy patch” , but
head about 3' dia,
tail about 13' long.
spike-like tail at
3⁄4° tail, bright,
ALMOST visible to
# # # # # # ###
Dec. 1 13h36m
Dec. 3 13 49
Dec. 5 14 3
Dec. 7 14 18
Dec. 9 14 34
Dec.11 14 52
Dec.13 15 11
Dec.15 15 32
Dec.17 15 54
Dec.19 16 18
Dec.21 16 43
Dec.23 17 10
Dec.25 17 39
Dec.27 18 11
Dec. 29 18 45
Dec.31 19 16
Jan. 2 19 43
-1.7AND WHAT DOES THIS COMET LOOK LIKE?
There are great hopes that Comet Kohoutek, 1973 f,
will attain phenomenal brightness, and perhaps be visible
to telescopes in the daytime. However, how many of you
have given a thought as to the shape this comet may take?
It needn’t have a great brightness to be of interest.
Generally, comets have a central nucleus which is
fairly small but bright. Surrounding this central core is
the coma, a fainter and more nebulous structure. Together
they comprise the head of the comet. Extending back from
this is the tail, if one can be observed.
These tail and coma phenomena are believed caused by
the action of streams of particles in the solar wind on the
outer shell of the comet. It is believed that the tail
becomes longer after perihelion as the gases in the tail
have lagged behind the speeding nucleus in its passage by
Given this "standard" form of observed comets, consider
the shapes taken in various cases. Some looked stoically
long and straight, such as Halley’s Comet. Others were
short and stubby, with a little rounded smudge for a tail,
such as Comet Wirtanen, 1956 c. Some developed a large
fan-shaped tail. Yet, who says that comets need only have
one tail? Comet Mrkos had 2 tails, one long, thin, and
straight, the other part looking like a water spray out
to the side. De Cheseaux's Comet had about 6 tails,
spreading fan-like across the sky. Then again, some comets
had no tail visible whatsoever. Wouldn’t that be dis
appointing? Imagine a bright comet with no tail. (Actually,
that would be strange indeed, as a comet only attains great
brightness on nearing the sun, and as it approaches, a tail
Some comets have developes an anti-tail, a tail that
seemed to point towards the sun instead of away from it.
Comet Arend-Roland, 1956 h, looked like a narwhal with its
characteristic spike out front. Comet Seki-Lines, 1962 c,
had a fuzzy patch for an anti-tail. Its main tail was a
very bright swath with partially fan-shaped nebulous area
around that. Anti-tails actually point away from the sun,
as normal tails do. What you see is the effect of perspec
Comet Morehouse was a rather unusual case. It had a
long primary tail and a tiny secondary fan, but as well it
had very pronounced knots of material that travelled back
from the nucleus. These were evident even over a number of
hours. Just think what you would have missed if you hadlooked at it only every couple of days! More common is the
case of "envelopes"of material coming off the head streaming
backwards to add to the tail. Such was the case with
Consider the nucleus. Comets may have more than one of
these as well. Comet Wirtanen illustrates this. It had 2
nuclei, one small one in front of the other.
According to theory, the nucleus of a comet is composed
of a conglomerate of dust grains, small pieces of matter,
and frozen gases (such as methane and ammonia). As the
comet nears the sun and the solar wind affects it, the par
ticles and gases are freed and move outwards and form the
coma and tails. An average size of the head of a comet has
been estimated as that of Jupiter. There are wide variations
however, as with tails. Halley’s Comet had a tail 94 million
miles long. The great comet of 1843 was claimed to have one
twice that length.
The distance of a comet changes, of course. It comes
sweeping in from deep space, passes by the sun at speeds that
may exceed a million miles an hour, then goes speeding back
out of the solar system. Comet Bennett came within 45
million miles of the sun, Halley's Comet within 55 million.
Comet Kohoutek will have the distinction of coming within
13 million miles, although still not as close as the "sun-
grazers", the most spectacular of comets.
Do they ever return? Some do; some don't. The ones
that do are called periodic comets. Encke's Comet is the
shortest period comet known; it returns every 3.3 years.
In fact, in May of next year it will reach magnitude 4.1,
and would be visible to the naked eye were it not so near
the sun in the sky. Many other comets are non-periodic; we
see them only once.
What happens when a periodic comet breaks up? Well,
we won't see it as a comet anymore, but rather as a meteor
shower. As the earth passes through the orbit of the old
comet, it will encounter thousands of particles varying in
size. As these strike the earth's atmosphere, they will
heat or burn up completely due to friction. We will see
meteors, all seeming to radiate from the same radiant point
in the sky. A good example of this is the October Draconid
shower, which originates from Comet Giacobini-Zinner. In
this case, there is a part of the original comet left, which
we saw in September last year with the 16-inch telescope.
Few, if any, of shower meteors will reach the ground to be
come meteorites - cometary material is usually minute and
fragile. The giant meteorites found on earth came fromlarge lone pieces of rock travelling through space.
So, when you look at Comet Kohoutek, do not think
just in terms of its brightness. Think of it in terms
of a phenomenon to be observed, studied, contemplated,
and remembered. Every comet is unique, but all are
# # # # # # # # #
Saturn is in fine position for observing this win
ter. A bit of information regarding this object may help
someone make the most of a clear night, good seeing, and
this unique planet.
Saturn is now in western Gemini, about 3° south and
1° east of M 35, the open cluster of stars known to deep
sky observers. The planet is clearly visible (attaining
a magnitude of -0.2 on December 4) and moving north-west,
getting brighter. On December 4 the planet will be 18.4
seconds of arc in diameter. The ring dimensions are a-
bout 46.5 x 20.5 seconds.
The rings make Saturn one of the most beautiful
planets in the sky. They consist of frozen ammonia,
with divisions or gaps created by the gravitational pull
of its moons. There are four rings labeled A, B, C, and
D as you approach the planet.
The outer ring (ring A) has a barely noticeable
division as seen in medium or larger scopes, requiring
good seeing. This is Encke’s Division. I’ve seen it
with my 8-inch f/5 reflector in the city, so it can’t
be that hard to make out.
Between ring A and ring B is Cassini’s division. It
is named after the first director of the Paris Observa
tory who described it back in 1675. This can be seen
with almost any moderate size scope under good seeing.
Ring B appears brighter than ring A and tends to
outshine the third ring, ring C , the Crepe Ring. Ring C
is much dimmer than B but on a very clear night you can
make out its ghostly form inside the bright rings.
The last ring (ring D) is very tenuous, and has
never been seen by anyone I know.
The rings are bright, reflecting as much as 2 times
the light of the planet proper, yet are very thin (less
than 10 miles). It was when the rings were observed
edge on that Audouin Dollfus of the Meudon Observatorynear P aris discovered Janus, Saturn’s 10th moon, in 1966,
at 14th magnitude.
Photographs of the planet in three colors can give
the observer a fairly accurate idea of what colors are
present. For example, when observed with the 3 filters
the 3 pictures show the rings to be of equal brightness, and
color independant. They are white.
If the globe is viewed in the three colors, the equa
torial belt is the
same brightness and is also white. Tem
perate regions are darker in blue than in red and fairly
bright in yellow-green and are hence yellow-orange (about
mid-way between the two).
There is least polar flattenning when the globe is
viewed in yellow-green and only slightly more in blue.
Therefore it would be about green in color.
Titan is the largest moon but the most interesting is
Iapetus. It is about 1⁄2 the diameter of our moon, but its
brightness varies up to 5 times. This is due to changes
in albedo over the surface. These variations always occur
at the east and west elongation, it being brighter in west
Usually the planets are only casually observed, and
even then only by super keen observers. I hope this winter
will increase our planetary observing. They are not only
individually unique but they can vary.
# # # # # ## ##
Use this handy blank for drawing Saturn by tracing it
and drawing on the features at the telescope.
Ed. note: Other things to watch for include the
of ring brighness. They are brightest near time
tion. If you like to follow the moons, you will
large number of stars in the field, Saturn being
the Milky Way.
seen againstTwas the night before Christmas, when outside the homes
The people were stirring, rolling back telescope domes;
The scopes were all pointed eastward with care,
In hopes that Kohoutek soon would be there.
The observers were snuggled warm in their snowmobile suits
While visions of Halley kept all of them mute.
And Schlossing in his parka, and Garneau in his cap
Had just aligned their scopes and were having a rap,
When out on the lawns there arose such a clatter,
Schlossing looked up to see what 'was the matter.
Away to his eyepiece the flew like a flash,
Grabbed up his barlow, and looked, and gasped.
The moon shone no more on the late-fallen snow.
The handbook had said "It’ll be new, you know".
The dawn approached quickly, all gaped and saw -
Not Kohoutek, but Santa Claus - ha! ha! ha! ha!
But what did dear Santa have packed in his bag?
Santa pulled, and out came with a snag
(Dear people, how good have you been this year?)
It was Comet Kohoutek, its tail a smear!
More rapid tham meteors the people they came,
Schlossing looked and shouted, and called them by name;
"Come Bedlington! now Biggs! now Powered! and Grady!
See the comet! on Karl! on Dreiver and Ravery!
To your scopes, to your scopes, all hurry and see!
To your eyepiece, grab your camera, don't trip over me!"
As fireflies that out of a forest do fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So each to his eyepiece like photons they flew,
Under the light of Kohoutek, and Santa Claus too.
Its nucleus - how it twinkled!; its tail how long,
Majestically, fairy-like it sang them its song.
It was breathtaking, really a sight to be seen,
And all marvelled to see it, in awe of its sheen.
The laughter and joy it gave to each head
Soon gave all to know they had nothing to dread -
The sky was not falling, the world not at its end,
But it was the beginning, a gift, God-sent.
It glowed upon them, all forgot troubles and gazed,
Truly all the world was amazed.
But it couldn' stay forever, and soon it had to leave.
3ut they hear Santa exclaim as he started to fly,
Merry Christmas observers! and keep watching the skies!
- C. HallA CONSTELLATION REVIEW (5)
Doug Somers and Doug Welch
High above your head on a December night you will find
the constellation Perseus. Although, as Walter Scott
Houston has said, a mention of Perseus calls up visions of
the Double Cluster, there are many other objects here:
650-1 (M 76) This planetary is known as the Little Dumb
bell to some people. It is much brighter than the list
magnitude. City dwellers can conjure this one up with a
6-inch as I have often done. A 3 1⁄2 -inch failed, however. I
would advise you to try it with a 41⁄4-inch if possible. M 76
is quite small. Averted vision will bring out a hazy patch
amongst a group of stars.
744 A galactic cluster. That spells it out. There is not
much to this dwarf. In fact it is hard to pick out from
the surrounding Milky Way. Find the field at low power and
then use high power to see it. It is fairly small with
mostly faint stars.
What a sight! This is without doubt the
finest showpiece in Perseus. Otherwise known as H & Chi
Persei, this pair has been known since antiquity. Why
didn't Messier see this? (Only his analyst knows for sure)
Even with the moon high in the sky here in the city it is
still visible to the naked eye. It improves very slowly
from 3 to 8-inch telescopes. In a (or should I say THE)16-inch it is BINDMOGGLING (!?!). Yellow giants (stars,
that is) are easily visible in the Super Sixteen.
957 Very unimpressive. This is a poor example of a clus
ter. It can pass unnoticed at low power. It is small
and condensed around one fairly bright star. Go after
it in the same way you should go after 744.
1023 When I first went after this I had doubts that I
would be able to find it. It was found very easily in
an 8-inch at low power. The chart in the Atlas of the
Heavens sufficed very readily. It is slightly elongated
but this most probably will not be noticed.
1039 (M 34) Most of Messier's list speaks for itself.
This is one. Bright, large, easy to find, impressive.
You will not be disappointed if you go after this one.
1220 This is not a cluster for the average amateur. It
is a cluster for laying aside and avoiding. Take my ad
vice and don’t go after it.
1245 This is another so-so cluster. It is large and
scattered. I cannot see how Mr. Bevcar & Co. came to re
cord the info at the beginning of the article. It looks
like any other field in the Milky Way. I would not re
commend it for a beginner.
1342 A winner. This has a lot more going for it than
most of the other clusters. I counted 40-odd stars et
the eyepiece which agrees well with the info. This
cluster is quite bright and large. It seems to have a
1444 This cluster fits along the same lines as 1220.
me it is not worth going after.
1513 An OK example of a cluster. It is more readily
visible than 1220, 1245, 1444, and 744. Since it is near
many bright stars it should be no problem to find.
1528 Start your hunt by looking at 1528, if you are in
this area. This little marvel can be seen in binoculars
quite easily. Use a low power on a very dark night if
you want to grasp the full beauty of this jewel. Any
beginner should be able to find it. It is less compressedthan M 34 but is still a very good object. I won’t de
scribe it here lest I take away the full satisfaction of
it. (It is probably most impressive in binos)
I would say that this is almost a copy of 1513. The
unidentical figures balance out in the end.
HINT Rumor has it that if you take a long box and cut two
large slits in both ends (5” x 2"; one for your eyes and
one for the sky) that you can increase your magnitude lim
This is for those who don't have any instrument. Be
sure the inside is black. Try it!
# # # # # # # # #
NEWS FROM THE RADIO TELESCOPE
In trying to detect sporadic noise bursts from Jupiter
we continue to get interference of an intelligent type.
From this we conclude that Jupiter is inhabited. The name
we are giving to these beings is Homo Radio-Hamus, and
efforts are under way to decode their strange messages to
No success has been made in detection of meteors from
bounced FM signals. We’ve come to the conclusion that
they reflect only AM signals, which is obviously a high
order of bigotry on the meteors’ part.
The fly carpet has been re-arranged; the flies, in re
taliation, have launched a sabotage campaign and are pres
ently clambering around inside equipment which they haven’t
been able to remove from the building.
# # # # # # # # #
NEED A RIDE to NMQ or QS? Call Holly Allan at 733-1931.
Due to the high cost of gasoline, which was previously
by the drivers concerned, a small charge will
be asked for the service provided.
### # # # # # # #
WANTED - Japenese size eyepieces for use with scopes in
the equipment library. Call Barry Matthews if you can spare
one or two hundred.
Barry has a number of copies of the Beginner' s Package
at $1.00 each. This is a support NMO project.Barry Matthews
Greetings again to those few who feel the moon is
not cold and dead1, after four months of rest and relax
ation. (Being too busy to prepare an article for Astro-
notes.) As part of my article on the moon I would like
to ask a few questions. In order to get the answers you
are going to have to get out the lunar maps or at least
attend the Observers Group meetings.
What visible features cover the majority of the near
side? Craters, Mountaian ranges, Maria.
What is the distance between the craters Kepler and
Copernicus? In degrees and miles.
What crater would you find at 10° N lat. and 20° W
What is the approximate diameter of Mare Nectaris?
Give your answer in kilometers and degrees.
If you had a 5" lunar globe, how big would an Earth
globe have to be on the same scale?
The answers will be available at the December meet
ing; ask me for them. If you have answered 3 correctly
then you are on your way to a path preceded by giants.
a partial eclipse o f the moon
North America on December 9.
Moon enters penumbra
Loon enters umbra...
Moon leaves umbra...
Moon leaves penumbra...................
This is a very small eclipse but I would really like
to see one or two photos, timings of craters entering or
leaving the umbra, and color estimates. Fourteen days
later the partial phase of the South American annular
eclipse will be visible in Ottawa just after sunrise, on
December 24. Photos and drawings of this event would also
If you would like additional information on these
events contact me (Barry) at the meeting.DR. LORNE AVERY ON KOHOUTEK
The November 6 meeting of the Ottawa Center was
attended by an overflow croud of 134 people, including
many members of the general public. Dr. Avery gave a very
enlightening talk on comets in general and Kohoutek in par
ticular. Dr. Avery and Dr. Andrew, both from NRC, will be
conducting experiments at the Algonquin radio telescope.
They will try to pick up previously undetected microwave
signals from the comet as it nears the sun.
# # # # # # # # #
THREAT: The next issue of Astronotes may contain articles
that have not been corrected for spelling or gramatical
errors, if some contributors remain as illiterate as they
# # # # # # # # #
THE SCHLOSSING SAGA (25)
The long road home turned out to be much like the long
road going, except that Planet Earth stayed in perfect fo
cus in the Zwei-punkt-vier1 whereas Planet X had been diffi
cult all the way.
Schlossing studied the planet with absorbing interest.
After the atmosphere disappeared into the UV, the radiative
parts came up into the blue and picked cut the continents
in mottled detail - spotted by cities and the occasional
After that too disappeared, he was amazed to see an
Earth of velvety blackness spotted with brilliant pulsating
"Can't be real lights," he thought, "So what are they?"
He studied them intently. Their distribution seemed
to concentrate in the continents for the most part, though
he noted exceptions. In Europe and North America their
character was much of a kind and much of a color. Only in
South America was there a kaleidoscopic succession of vivid
hues to greet the eye. The color in China was different a-
gain - always clashing, and that finally gave Schlossing the
clue to the solution.
1Not only did our heroes live in ignorance of fear.
They also lived in ignorance of culture, relativity, and most
especially, chemistry.”I'm looking at radio!'' he said, slapping his knee
in glee, "And by golly, it looks the way it sounds!"
In the civilized countries, hard rock had recently
given way to diamond rock - widely believed to be the ul
timate - in which the number of harmonic progressions had
been reduced from one to zero. Only in primitive South
America did the rich harmony and rhythm of the rumba and
the tango and the bossa nova survive as the real world
passed them by. China, of course, was respecting its an
cestors and still harmonizing in fourths, since that was
not only the Yin and the Yan, but also the Way.
CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS ISSUE
Rob Dick; 722-5809; 1855 Wembley Avenue
Cathy Hall; 825-1628; Box 420, RR#2
Barry Matthews; 829-7237; Woodridge Cres., Apt. 1
Rolf Meier; 224-1200; 77 Meadowlands Drive West
Doug Somers; 829-8609; 67 Costello Avenue
Doug Welch; 829-2547; 35 Mohawk Ores.
Tom Tothill; Suite 1, 6347 West Blvd., Vancouver 13, BC
Jon Buchanan; 825-2636; 14 Kirkstall Avenue
Articles for the January, 1974 issue of Astronotes
are due by December 21, 1973.
Since the word will get out sooner or later, here
it is, straight. The May, 1974 issue of Astronotes
will be the ONE HUNDREDTH issue.
Naturally, that will be a very special issue, may
be even a collectors item.
One of the things I would like to do is compile an
index of articles over the last 12 years. To do this,
I need back issues that I don’t have. If anyone is
willing to help in this regard, I will return them to
All of you old-timers, especially past editors, are
invited to relate their memories, and perhaps we can
come up with a great historical issue. It has been said
that Astronotes unites the group, and in this light we
can see the group as it was and is.ASTRO NOTES