AstroNotes 1984 November Vol: 23 issue 09



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A S T R O N O T E S ISSN 0048-8682

The Newsletter Magazine of the Ottawa Centre of the RASC
Vol. 23, No. 9 $5.00 a year November 1984

Editor.......Rolf Meier......4-A Arnold Dr.......820-5784
Addresses.....Art Fraser......92 Lillico Dr......737-4110
Circulation...Robin Molson....2029 Garfield Ave...225-3082


Vice-chairman Gary Susick opened the meeting at 8:15 pm with 62 people in attendance, of whom 47 were members. Gary introduced a Montreal Centre member, Stewart Marshal, who invited members for a joint star night in Alexandria, Ontario, on October 26 or 27. Gary then proceeded by mentioning the Annual Dinner Meeting, to be held at Algonquin College on November 16. Some of the awards to be given that night are the Variable Star Award and the Observer of the Year Award.

Being that time of year again, nominations for the Observer’s Group Executive were held. The duties of coordinators were outlined, and nominations held as follows:

Chairman: Doug George
Vice Chairman: Sandy Ferguson
Solar: Linda Meier
Radio Astronomy: Frank Roy, Doug George
Deep Sky: Simon Tsang
Instrumentation: Max Stewart, Malcolm Lambourne
Meteors: David Lauzon, Frank Roy
Comets and Novae: Dave Fedosiewich
Occultations: Brian Burke
Lunar and Planetary: Rolf Meier
Astrophotography: Gary Susick
Variable Stars: Sandy Ferguson
Recorder: David Lauzon, Daniel Dlab

Elections for these positions will be held next month. Vice-Chairman Malcolm Lambourne reported that the Deep Sky Weekend of September 21 was very successful. Another star night, held at Dunlop Public School, and organized by Anne Fraser, was reported to be successful too, with 125 parents and students. On October 19 or 20, the last public star night for the year will be held at Andrew Haydon Park.

Comet and nova coordinator Dave Fedosiewich reported on Comet Meier, 1894o, and Halley's Comet. Comet Meier will be too low soon, and Halley's is expected to be at magnitude 19.

Lunar and planetary coordinator Rolf Meier discussed the visibility of the planets. Venus is back in the evening sky, but Jupiter and Mars are disappearing into the sunset. Rolf then presented a talk and slide show of the new 10-inch observatory, and also a discussion on how to report astronomical discoveries.

If you observe something that isn't on any of the good star charts or photographic atlases (ie a comet, supernova, nova, etc.), then the following steps should be taken:
1) Classify as a comet, supernova, flare star, etc., and give its exact location. If a comet is found, also give its direction of motion and rate of motion. For supernovae, give position angle and distance from galaxy.
2) Note details such as magnitude and appearance of object.
3) Call the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams. You have 30 seconds to leave a recorded message.
Once you have done all of this, you must wait for your observation to be confirmed by other observers.

Next up was Simon Tsang with slides of the Kennedy Space Center and many shots of the Space Shuttle.

Doug George presented a talk on his university thesis project. He designed a device that not only drives your telescope, but accurately guides on a star without human assistance. By complex electronics, his C-8 can take astrophotos while he is inside with a warm cup of coffee. Doug's talk ended with an open discussion.

Instrumentation coordinator Malcolm Lambourne showed members an eyepiece box he made for his Dobsonian.

Meteor coordinator David Lauzon talked of the Orionid meteor shower and a project to estimate the height of a meteor, using observations from 2 stations.

Deep sky coordinator Gary Susick showed slides of objects with and without a nebular filter.

Finally, Gary closed the meeting to refreshments, at 10:35 pm.


Dear Rolf:
At the recent meeting of the National Council, it was announced (by Peter MacKinnon) that you had discovered your fourth comet. I write both on behalf of the R.A.S.C. and personally to extend congratulations on your accomplishment. Your work brings honour not only to yourself, but to the Ottawa Centre, to the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, and to Canada. To be the first to locate a 12th magnitude, diffuse wisp of light demonstrates uncommon skill and dedication. You are joining a small, select group of world-class observers.
Roy L. Bishop President, R.A.S.C.

Dear Mr. Meier:
The members of the R.A.S.C., Kingston Centre, congratulate you on your new comet discovery.
We were much impressed to hear this is your fourth comet and send our best wishes.
May you find many more!

Ruth E. Hicks
Secretary, Kingston Centre

* * *

I was very pleased to receive letters of congratulation from various people, especially those above, which I thought I would like to share with you. -ED

* * *


I recently had the good fortune to visit the Montreal Centre of the R.A.S.C. as a guest of David Levy, former member of the Montreal Centre, and now a Kingston Centre member and resident of Tucson, Arizona. The Montreal group holds its meetings on Wednesday and Saturday nights at their observatory, situated on the campus of McGill University in downtown Montreal, behind Molson Stadium. The location is far from ideal, but the Centre's C-14, which is under the dome at the combined clubhouse/observatory is used mainly for lunar and planetary observations. It can also be removed from the permanent base on which it is mounted and taken to the Centre's other observation site at Cedar Crest, a private farm near Apple Hill, Ontario.

The night we visited the Centre, August 12th, no formal lectures had been planned, but a few members had turned up and were working on various individual projects. Alister Ling is currently compiling a master list of observed objects to be kept permanently on file at the Centre. This list includes all observations going back to the 1950's, and it is hoped members will use the information for comparison purposes with their own current observations. Also, one of David Levy's projects, his recent book The Joy of Gazing, published by the Centre, will go into a second, expanded edition in November. As the night was overcast, observing of any kind was out of the question (no Perseids, no planets, it was full moon anyway...). However, I was taken on a tour of the buildings by the members present, and was impressed by the equipment and facilities.

The clubhouse/observatory is a combined three-storey building built into the side of a hill leading up to the residence area of the McGill campus. The main floor contains the meeting area and library, which takes up two walls of the room and is maintained by Bill Strople, who is also an avid collector of astronomical books, particularly out-of-print publications. In order to enter the Observatory area, on the level above, we climbed a set of incredibly steep, narrow steps, with an interesting 10-foot knotted rope. Presumably, one grabs the rope in desperation on descending the steps and falling face forward! In any event, this leads to an upper floor, which in turn leads onto an outdoor patio area between the clubhouse and observatory. The view of the Montreal skyline from this courtyard is spectacular and made up for the disappointing observing conditions. Inside the dome the C-14 is mounted on a pedestal sunk 6 or 7 feet into the ground. It is known as the Townsend telescope, named for a benefactor in the 1950's.

The basement level of the building is used for storage and contains a well-equipped darkroom for use by members. Mario Calouri, the astrophotography coordinator for the Montreal Centre, gave us a tour around the darkroom and showed us some examples of the excellent work done by members of the Centre. Bill was also kind enough to bring out of storage some of the marvellous equipment owned by the Centre. Of particular interest were four fine refractors, two of which were lovely antique brass instruments, both donations from a number of years ago. The Centre also owns a number of mirrors, eyepiece sets, and even some old pieces of surveying equipment. However, perhaps the item of most interest was a watercolour painting by Russell W. Porter, which was awarded to A.V. Whipple of the Montreal Centre at the 1948 Stellafane convention. The painting is of the S.S. America after it had been crushed by ice and abandoned in Crown Prince Rudolph Island. The scene is by moonlight with the trace of an aurora in the distance.

It is always interesting to visit other Centres of the R.A.S.C. and to compare notes with other people who whare our love of the stars. Many thanks to the Montreal members for their hospitality - Bill for the deluxe tour of the faciltities and for digging out all the antique equipment, Mario for the darkroom tour, Alister for the information and coversation, and a special thank-you to David for the visit and the Bart Bok stories.

* *


At about 9:25 pm, during the September 7 meeting of the Observer’s Group, I noticed a meteor through the gap in the not-quite-closed curtains of room 3001 at NRC. I was sitting towards the right-hand side of the room near the back. Did anyone else at the meeting observe this phenomenon? I did not want to interrupt the speaker to announce this sighting (it was of course over before I could react to it anyway), and it had slipped my mind when the meeting was being closed. The meteor was evidently bright enough to be seen even though the lights in room 3001 were on at the time.

* * *

If there are any confirming observations of the above, Mr. Wray would be delighted to hear from you. -ED

NEW MEMBER'S NIGHT Malcolm Lambourne

Friday, November 23rd will be New Member’s Night at the Indian River Observatory. All members who have joined this fall are invited. The evening’s observing will begin at 7:30 pm. If Friday evening is cloudy, we’ll try again the following night. The centre's 16-inch and 10-inch scopes will be open for observing, and some of the old-timers will bring their own. We also hope that some of the Observer's Group coordinators will be there to answer your questions about observing programs.

If you need directions, or help with transportation, call me at 729-8112, or Gary Susick at 836-2415 a few days in advance. Bring your own scope if you have one, and dress warmly.

A map to the IRO is on the next page. -ED

* * *


The Indian River Observatory Radio Interferometer (IRORI) has undergone many improvements this year. During the winter a programmable timer which runs on sidereal time was installed on the radio telscope. This is used to turn the chart recorder on or off at any time of the day, resulting in a great saving of chart paper and facilitating the analysis of results.

During the spring and summer, Ken Tapping, Chip Wiest and myself undertook a series of tests to determine the status of our antenna system. As a result the cabling at both antennae was replaced with BNC type connectors, which will permit easy interfacing to rf test equipment. Also our "rat race" combiners used to combine the signal from the 8 dipoles were replaced with low loss commercial combiners. The "rat races" were installed in the summer and fall of 1983, replacing our original low-quality commercial combiners which were installed in 1979-80.

At the present time we are measuring the noise temperature of the first rf amplifiers, and if required will install new transistors to reduce the noise temperature to below 300°K. Hopefully, by the summer of '85 the IRORI will be fully operational and ready for use by any member, after of course being shown how to use the instrument by me.


This was the appearance of the small dome at the Dominion Observatory.

8-inch f/8 Edmund Newtonian, 3 years old, fork mount with drive, 2-inch focusser, good condition, star test results very good. $700. Contact Greg Pimento, One Morning Dove Crescent, Elmira, Ontario, N2B 1E2, 519-669-1404.

* * *

Don’t forget - the Annual Dinner Meeting takes place on November 16 at Algonquin College. You should have received a mailing by now. The speaker will be former Ottawa Centre member Doug Welch. The ticket price for the meal is $17.50.

* * *

As mentioned at the Observer's Group meeting, there are several awards presented to Observer's Group members. They are:
Observer-of-the-Year: Get your observations over the past
year in to the committee, consisting of Gary Susick, Malcolm Lambourne, and Sandy Ferguson (last year's winner). If you prefer, hand in your log book.
Variable Star Award: Submit your variable star estimates of the past year in to Sandy Ferguson.
Merit Award: This award is up to the discretion of the awards committee. Last year's winner was Robin Molson.
Astronotes Article of the Year: This award is up to the discretion of the Editorial Board, and is only awarded if there is an outstanding article or series of articles over the past year.

* * *
Articles for the December issue of Astronotes are due by November 23.


HOW TO PLAY: All the words listed below appear in the puzzle- horizontally, vertically, diagonally, even backwards. Find them and CIRCLE THEIR LETTERS ONLY. DO NOT CIRCLE THE WORD. The leftover letters spell the Astroword.

STUDY OF THE MOON'S Surface Solution: 12 letters

Age, Air, Airglow, Apogee, Arc, Astronaut, Astronomy, Atom; Chromosphere, Coma, Constellation; Day; Europa; Ion; Kepler; Limb; Mars, Mass, Meteor, Month, Moon; North, Nova; Occulation, Opposition, Orbits, Orion; Phases,Planet, Pluto; Radar, Radiant, Rays; Saros, Season, Sky, Space, Stars, Sun; Umbra; Venus, Voyager; Years.


Mark Narwa