AstroNotes 1984 December Vol: 23 issue 10



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The Newsletter Magazine of the Ottawa Centre of the RASC
Vol. 23, No. 10 $5.00 a year December 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


Chairman Gary Susick opened the meeting at 8:20 pm with 55 people in attendance, of whom 50 were members. Gary introduced the President of the Ottawa Centre, Peter MacKinnon. Peter thanked members of the Observer's Group for making his two-year term a memorable one. Peter also presented the Tuthill Comet Award to Rolf Meier in recognition of his discovery of Comet Meier, 1984o.

Final nominations for the 1985 Observer's Group Executive were brought to the OG. The final election results are as follows:

Chairman Doug George
Vice-Chairman Sandy Ferguson
Solar Linda Meier
Radio Astronomy Frank Roy
Deep Sky Gary Susick
Instrumentation Max Stuart
Meteors Dave Lauzon
Comets and Novae Dave Fedosiewich
Occultations Brian Burke
Lunar and Planetary Rolf Meier
Astrophotography Simon Tsang
Variables Sandy Ferguson
Recorder Daniel Dlab

Gary mentioned that the combined Montreal-Ottawa star night was again cancelled due to poor weather conditions. It was to be rescheduled for about April, 1985. The star night of October 19/20 was actually cancelled again due to partially overcast skies. Several members went to Andrew Haydon Park just in case and about 15 to 20 people arrived and were shown various objects during the occasional clear patches. The November New Members Night will be held November 23/24 at IRO, weather permitting.

Rob MacCallum mentioned the Annual Dinner Meeting being held at the Staff Dining Lounge of the Woodroffe campus of Algonquin College on Friday, November 16. A roast beef buffet at $17.50 per person will be featured. Astronomer Doug Welch will be the guest speaker.

Gary then introduced Dale Armstrong from the RASC London Centre. He is a 4th-year geography student with an interesting project currently carried out among the RASC centres across the country. It consists of a 4-page questionnaire on astronomy dealing with a large variety of topics such as interests, observing, travelling, etc. The final results will be made available through the RASC National Newsletter.

Pierre Deguire, a new OG member, presented an excellent slide show of astrophotographs. Pierre was using 3M 1000 slide film through his C-8 at prime focus to achieve excellent results of objects such as M 13, M 27, and M 42. He also showed prints taken with Fuji HR 1600 film.

Simon Tsang followed with an audio-visual presentation utilizing slides and cassette tape. It was an introduction to basic astronomy with current emphasis on observational activities.

Fred Lossing presented a slide show on the initial planning and building of the Ottawa Centre's first observatory at North Mountain in 1971. Due to deteriorating skies, it was moved to its current site at Indian River near Almonte in 1977. He then followed with a discussion of reciprocity failure.

Brian Burke presented an explanation of the celestial coordinate system - RA and dec. The difference between solar and sidereal time was also discussed.

Finally, Gary closed the meeting to refreshments at 10:45 pm.

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Articles for the January, 1985 issue of Astronotes are due by December 14. Note that this is one week after the December Observer's Group Meeting. This is to facilitate an on-time January issue with the intervention of the Holiday season.  


Sandy Ferguson

It’s comforting to know that I am not all alone out there in the dark, checking out the goings on in the variable star department! This year I was delighted to receive excellent variable star estimates from two diligent observers, Allan Reddoch and Linda Meier.
Allan kept a log of his estimates for Epsilon Aurigae, a variable which was brightening from minimum to maximum during the first six months of this year. His graph covered the period from January 10 to May 29, and showed a gradual increase in brightness over the five months, with an abrupt rise during the month of March, This confirmed my own observations, which had also shown a sharp rise in the same month. Thanks, Allan, for the help - it was much appreciated.

And, congratulations go out to Linda Meier, winner of the Observer’s Group Variable Star Award for 1984. Linda is the first winner of this award since 1981 (when it was won by her husband Rolf!)
Using her 7 x 50 binoculars and 6-inch Newtonian, Linda has been an enthusiastic variable star observer throughout this year, and made a total of 176 observations between February 21/22 and October 15/16. 101 of these observations were of the six program stars for the award, which consisted of two eclipsing binaries, two semi-regular variables, a cepheid, and a long-period variable. The other 75 observations were made up of a variety of non-program stars, which Linda also observed.

Of particular interest were Linda's observations of the eclipsing binary RZ Cas. On the morning of June 1/2, she caught the star going into eclipse and kept a detailed record of magnitude estimates for the remainder of the 2-hour eclipse period. These observations were very helpful, because it enabled us to predict times for future eclipses of the star. Well done, Linda.
As you can see, variable star observing is alive and well and resident in the RASC Ottawa Centre. I hope the success that Linda and Allan have had in observing these fascinating stars will encourage other centre members to become acquainted with this interesting branch of astronomy. Who knows, some night there may be dozens of us all alone out there in the dark, checking out the goings on in the variable star department!

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Rolf Meier

Discovered by David Levy of the Kingston Centre on November 13, I was lucky enough to be the second person to see this comet the next night, actually an hour before its discovery by Michael Rudenko in Amherst, Massachusetts, This comet will remain a nice telescopic object for the remainder of the year. An ephemeris follows:
date RA Dec mag
Dec 1    18h    41.03m    +18°    43.9’
6    18    38.80    +21    25.0    9.0
11    18    36.28    +24    07.8
16    18    33.40    +26    53.5    8.8
21    18    30.11    +29    44.1
26    18    26.33    +32    42.5    8.8

This is now available through the services of member Roy Fox. Roy will make a half-tone from the photograph, and this will make it possible to reproduce it using our process. Just submit your print to the editor and I will pass it on to Roy. This will make for a fantastic improvement to the appearance of Astronotes , so get out your best work for submission.

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are again in short supply this month. Unfortunately, I am finding it harder and harder to fill the extra pages with material of my own. I must rely on members' submissions as much as possible for coming events, reports of meetings, astronomical events coming up, observations, humour, wit, etc. Eventually, I will no longer have the time for editing, either. I know members would enjoy reading a thick issue every month, especially one filled with lots of stuff. Otherwise, much of the content would consist of fairly uninteresting words which say very little but try very hard to reach down to the last possible line on the page like this.

M 100. A 20-minute exposure on Tri-X film, at the prime focus of the 16-inch telescope. Taken in June, 1977.

M 31. A photograph taken with the Aero-Ektar lens in September, 1975. A 10-minute exposure on Tri-X film.