AstroNotes 1983 April Vol: 22 issue 03



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The Newsletter Magazine of the Ottawa Centre of the RASC
Vol. 22, No. 3 $5.00 a year April 1983

Editor......Rolf Meier......4-A Arnold Dr......820-5784
Addresses....Art Fraser......11-860 Cahill Dr...737-4110
Circulation...Barry Matthews...2237 Iris St......225-6600



Brian Burke

There are two grazes occurring this month but only one of than occurs at a reasonable time. The location of this one is west of the city near Renfrew on the evening of Friday, April 15. The details for this graze are:

date: April 15
time: 20:52 EST
star: X4997
limb:north, bright
moon:8 % sunlit

Although it is classified as favourable, the star is dim, the graze occurs on the bright limb, and the moon will be less than 7 1/2 degrees above the horizon. If you are interested in participating in a graze expedition, please let me know. However, if after the site is examined and it is not possible to get a good clear horizon, then there will hot be an attempt to observe this graze. A meeting place and time will be decided upon at a later date.
The other graze occurs at an unfavourable time at 3:45 EST on a Tuesday morning (April 5) so an attempt to observe it will not be made.

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Articles for the May issue of Astronotes are due by April 22.
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Chairman Rolf Meier opened the meeting at 8:27 pm with 29 people in attendance, of which 17.21% were non-members. There was a notice for membership fees and for people to pick up their Observer's Handbooks after the meeting. Rolf continued by reminding members that the General Assembly will be held between May 20 and 23 at Quebec City. A project to turn off the aurora borealis was said to take place the night of the meeting.
The theme talk was delivered by Peter MacKinnon on GAS (the Space Shuttle Get Away Special). Peter states that it would be well worth the effort of all RASC members who are interested to plan a project for the Shuttle. We have the technology and the capability, and all we need is interest in a worthwhile project. He also spoke of the Youth Science Foundation of Canada, an organization devoted to youth science. They would like to discuss the naming of an upcoming Year of the Youth. Finally, Peter spoke upon the idea of committees.
Rolf spoke on behalf of Rob McCallum about the visibility of the moon after new moon. Rolf stated that this time of year is good for observing this phenomenon. This is because the ecliptic is at its greatest angle to the horizon at sunset.
Deep Sky coordinator Gary Susick proceeded by introducing the concept of a Messier Race. The race would show and also develop observing skills of members by finding as many Messier objects as possible in a given time period. Gary put forth the challenge for the race that would take place at IRO or Quiet Site. To show some of the expected wonders, he presented a slide show of objects taken with Celestron telescopes. Among objects shown were the Andromeda Galaxy, M 42, the southern Milky Way, M 65,
M 66, and M 33.
Malcom Lambourne presented suggestions on a workshop for members' projects. One such suggested group project was a Schmidt telescope.
Gary Susick returned to the stand and presented a discussion of nebular filters. The purpose of this filter is to darken the sky background in the city by blocking out light pollution. Nebular light frequencies are allowed through. Gary spoke of the best type of filters.
Rolf Meier gave a slide show of his trip to Arizona, where he visited David Levy. His slides included southwest observatories, the southern skies, and the Grand Canyon.

Rolf closed the meeting at 10:03 pm.


Rolf Meier opened the meeting at 8:17 pm with 37 people in attendance, about 84% being members. He announced that a star party would be held on March 11 or 12, and a meteor session in April. The lock at IRO will be changed on April 1, and the key fee of $20 may be paid at the April meeting. Rolf also mentioned that the cable for the roof at IRO broke.

Vice-chairman Gary Susick introduced the speakers of the meeting, starting with meteor coordinator David Lauzon. Dave gave a short talk on the April Lyrids coming up next month. There will be more information at the April meeting.

Dave (spell-your-name-right) Fedosiewich was up to talk about two comets to be observed through the summer. These are Comet Temple and Comet Kopff. The first one has a range of magnitude 11.5 on May 6 to 11.4 on July 5. The second has a range of magnitude 11.4 on April 6 to 9.5 on July 15. The ephemeris for these comets is in the Observer's Handbook and more information will be given later.

The next speaker was Rolf Meier, talking on his project of the search for supernovas in galaxies. Most supernovas occur in Sc type galaxies, and this is where Rolf concentrates his work. At present, he is observing galaxies such as M 101, M 51, M 104, NGC 253, M 81, etc. The way he checks his observations is by comparing with photographs he has taken of the galaxies. He showed slides of a number of galaxies to illustrate.

The topic of "Organic Molecules in Space" was raised by David Lauzon. He told how the primordial fireball led to the formation of heavier elements, such as carbon. Carbon compounds formed in large clouds, such as the Orion Nebula. Dave also alluded to the Oparian theory of life.

The question of "Where is Pluto" was answered by Dave Fedosiewich. His talk was very systematic. You may be able to see Pluto visually, but it will show up photographically. Results of observations should be given to Dave for mass comparison.

The last talk of the evening was on GAS. NO, this isn't a conservation kick, but Peter MacKinnon talking about the Centre's Space Shuttle project for the Get Away Special. Peter gave a description of GAS and opened up discussion.

Rolf closed the meeting at 9:50 pm, when Peter got people to get into groups and put their ideas on the Shuttle project down on paper.

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I am reviving the Instrumentation Workshop. It will be held in my basement (see map below) on alternate Tuesdays from 6:30 to 10:30 pm starting April 12, and all members of the Ottawa Centre are welcome to participate. The workshop emphasis will be on building telescopes and accessories, so if you could use some help or advice for a project you have in mind, please bring it along. If Tuesday evenings are not convenient, talk to me at an Observer's Group meeting, or call me at home, 729-8112, and maybe we can arrange an alternate.
In summary:

Instrumentation Workshop
Location: 312 Woodroffe Avenue, Ottawa
Dates: Tuesday, April 12 6:30 - 10:30
" " 26 " "
" May 10 "
" " 24 " "


In the early 1900's, interstellar molecules were discovered by spectroscopic means. Now, these molecules, along with many more newly-discovered molecules, are detected through radio spectroscopy. The story of the discovery of methylidyne (CH), cyanogen (CN), and other molecules is explained in the book Stars and Clouds of the Milky Way, pages 136 to 144. I will leave it up to the reader to review this information due to limited writing space.
This article will be based only on organic molecules. These are molecules which contain carbon. Simple carbon compounds such as methylidyne have been discovered, but more recent observations show the existence of the simplest amino acid, glycine. Proteins, which are made up of amino acids, are the building blocks of all known life.
Where do these molecules come from? How do they exist? To answer this, we shall look at the two basic types of clouds where the molecules are found. This month, we shall look at the dark clouds.

Dark Clouds
In the dark clouds, hydrogen is usually found in diatomic form, and has an average density of a few hundred parts per cc. The dark clouds are usually gravitationally bound, resulting in collapse and new stars being formed later in time. In this type of cloud, photo-dissociation and photoionization is higher than in the black cloud. This is because the dark cloud allows greater amounts of diffused starlight to pass through. This makes the denser clouds darker and cooler. The time to reach a chemical steady-state is less than that in the black cloud. This time shows that the abundance of molecules like NH3, H2CO, and NCN can most likely keep up with the evolving temperature and density of the collapsing cloud. The ionization radiation from ultraviolet, x-rays, and cosmic rays causes molecules like methane, ammonia, and water to be less abundant than thought.
This is a basic generalization of the dark clouds. More information can be found in the Centre's library, as in the books below. Next month, I will write about the black clouds.

Gossner, J.L., and Gossner, S.D., "The Gaseous Clouds of Interstellar Space", Stars and Clouds of the Milky Way, The MacMillan Co. (1967): pp 140-144.
Kroto, H.W., "The Spectra of Interstellar Molecules", School Review, (1981): pp 309-376.
Gammon, R.H., Chemistry of Interstellar Space, C and EN, (Oct 2, 1978): pp 21-33.