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JAN 1970 ASTRONOTES Vol. 9, No. 1
22 Delong Drive, Ottawa 9
Howard Harris 620 Keenan Ave, Ottawa 13
399 McLeod St, Ottawa 4
1970 opens auspiciously for Canadian astronomy with
the announcement that all federal astronomical activities
are to be combined under one agency, instead of being split
between the National Research Council and the Department of
Energy, Mines, and Resources. Although it does not really
matter which department becomes responsible, there is no
doubt that in the public mind the connection between Energy,
Mines, or Resources and astronomy is tenuous, to say the
least, whereas its connection with National Research does
not require any explanation. Therefore it is a pleasure to
know that NRC will benefit from the acquisition of the
renowned staff and facilities of the Dominion Astrophysical
Observatory, Victoria, B.C., the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory, Penticton, B.C., the Meteor Observatory
at Meanook, Alberta and the Meteor Camera network across
the Prairies now under construction, and most of the astro
nomical activities of the Dominion Observatory in Ottawa.
Cooperation between the two departments has been very
cordial and fruitful in recent years, particularly in radio
astronomy, and it is becoming very obvious that astronomy
is a science where radio and optical astronomy are parts
of one whole, mutually interacting and complementing one
NRC will now have the rather unenviable task of sorting
out what may be called "The 157-inch Mess". The Western
Universities, plus Queens, want the 157 on Mount Kobau.
The University of Toronto group want something big in Chile,
in association with the Carnegie Institution in Washington,
and the deadline for the latter decision is upon us. The
worst feature of "The Mess" is that it has been hatched
largely behind closed doors and very little indeed has been
released for publication. Thus we hear rumours that Mount
Kobau has suffered 100 continuous days and nights of cloud,
that it has 25 nights of all-night twilight every summer,
that buildings have collapsed under ice accumulations, etc,
but where is this published so that a proper assessment can
be made, free of wishful thinking? Now at last the Rose
Report has been released in full. Let's have the rest out
in the open without delay.
OBSERVERS GROUP MEETING - DEC 6
Chaired by Dr. Lossing, the meeting drew an attendance
of 40 people. This being the last meeting of 1969, elect
ions were due for officers for 1970 and Coordinators for
a two-year stint. There was no lack of nominations and
in most cases there was a runoff of three or more names
for each post. Results were as follows:
Ken Hewitt-White 733-4949
Barry Matthews 828-0922
(after Feb 1st - Chris Martin
Solar and Aurora
Variable stars and Nova
Note, fellas, that we have girls in the Group now -
a large increase in membership is confidently expected.
Mr. Perrins gallantly ran again for the Coffee chores,
and lost! Ken Hewitt-White was such a sparkplug for the
whole group that we couldn't think of anyone half as good
to replace him in the all-important Vice department.
Rick Lavery displayed the beautiful Plaque which is
to be the Variable Star Award - or if that should fail to
remain active, it will be an award for stellar astronomy
Al Miller showed slides of the Apollo 12 mission
photographed direct off a colour TV with considerable
success. Steve Craig expected sunspot numbers to increase
near the end of the month.
The upcoming March 7 eclipse was discussed some more.
The main problem is transportation - it is most unlikely
that we can fill a bus. Many would like to go but have no
car, and few with cars have made any definite plans. Some
would like to continue on to Florida to see the liftoff of
Apollo 13 a week later. The nearest point of the eclipse
path from Ottawa is near Norfolk, Va.
Dr. Lossing exhibited his newly finished Dall-Kirkham.
TELESCOPE FUND REPORT
After a passionate (?) plea for contributions at the
last Observers Group meeting, no avalanche of support has
yet hit us from the teenage members though quite a few have
indicated that they are going to. WHEN?
Imagine the wonders that will be visible with the 16".
Stars down to 16th magnitude, and lunar and planetary detail
never before seen in Ottawa will be easily visible. But why
dream - make it a reality and give a New Year's contribution
to the Telescope Fund. Forty-odd teenagers at two or three
clams apiece comes to a nice even $100.
Meanwhile some of the professional members of the
Centre have come through with very generous donations, so
that the Fund is now closing in on the $300 mark, and we
have no fear that this particular source is yet dried up -
now that Christmas is over, we rather think that a good
many more will wish to be included in this endeavour.
One contribution for which we would like to express
specially warm appreciation was from Toronto's Jim Low
(our national Comet and Nova Coordinator). Don't you feel
outdone? Ease your conscience and make a contribution.
We want our 16-inch scope finished this year!!!
COUNCIL MEETING - DEC 9
The Council of the Ottawa Centre met on Dec 9 to discuss
various matters of immediate and future interest, and to
hear the reports of officers. President Filmore Park and
past President Earl Dudgeon were appointed as a nominating
committee for two purposes - to propose a slate of officers
for 1970-71, and to suggest a list of members to be put
forward for awards of the Society such as the Chant Medal,
Service Award, and Membership Certificates. Anyone with
suggestions in these spheres is cordially invited to contact
either of these gentlemen.
The locale for the Annual Meeting and Dinner was dis
cussed and is now fixed for Tuesday, Jan 20th at the Facul
ty Dining Lounge, Carleton University. Although the Centre
is traditionally addressed by the retiring President on this
occasion, Mr. Park is modestly giving up this privilege in
favour of Dr. Donald MacRae, head of the Astronomy Depart
ment of the University of Toronto.
THE LOST CLOCK
The lost clock does not refer to a misplaced time
piece, but rather to the lost art of telling the time by
the stars. Telling the time by such a method is especially
useful in astronomy because the clock runs at the sidereal
There are several methods of memorizing star positions
but the easiest of these is to employ the circumpolar stars,
in this group there are three stars which are rather out
standing - VEGA, CAPELLA, and the POINTERS. The procedure
is a simple matter of memorization of their positions.
Naturally the positions advance 4 minutes a day to comply
with the sidereal rate. The "clock face" is divided into
24 hourly increments. Every 15 days the clock advances
one hour, so every month the clock will advance 2 hours.
The reading of the clock employs one of the three
stars mentioned earlier plus POLARIS as the origin of the
hour hand. To accurately read the positions and angles
you must first stand in line with the meridian - face
towards Polaris and back towards the south. Then you
connect Polaris with your chosen star and compare the
angles on the chart below with the angle of the star at
the time of reading.
The charts are correct for 9 p.m. EST on the dates
shown. On Jan 15 the Pointers are level with Polaris
on the east. On Apr 15 they are overhead, south of
Polaris, the clock having advanced 6 hours in the mean
time. On July 15, by the same token, they are level on
the west side, and on Oct 15 they hang below Polaris.
Capella is 5 3/4 hours ahead of the Pointers, and Vega
7.6 hours behind. The Pointers are at exactly 11 hrs RA.
(Q) What day and month (at 9 pm) is shown on the cover
Answer next month.
DEEP SKY - ORION
Those of you who have been members of the Observer's
Group since 1968 will remember the great Messier race
begun by Ken Hewitt-White. It turned out to be very suc
cessful. 20% of the group managed to participate. It is
because of this eagerness that I have planned another
search of the heavens but this time with a new twist.
The problem with the other programs is they try to cover
too much scope at one time. Often people with inferior
instruments were discriminated against due to the nature
of the program. This new project deals with quality and
comparison of observations rather than gross total. In
this way all can participate.
This telescopic hunt, and in alot of cases binocular
hunt, will deal not only with the Messiers but all the
N.G.C. objects located within certain boundaries. Each
month a new constellation will be chosen and to start off
January I have picked the most recognizable and beautiful
constellation of them all- Orion. The one object that
makes this pattern of stats unique is M-42, the Great
Orion Nebula. Located right in the Sword it shows more
detail than any other deep sky object and has drawn other
as well as myself for hours at a time. However, let's
not overlook the other objects in the sky. Messiers are
not the end-all-be-all. For instance, those N.G.C.'s in
Cygnus ( Astronotes, October 1969 ) are for the most
part better than the Messiers. It is with this proof
that I hope some people may be aroused into participating
To aid you, I will have some report forms ready by
the Jan. 3 meeting so that you can either visually or
verbally describe what you have found in your telescope
or binoculars. When you have completed a form send it
to me by mail or give it to me at one of the meetings.
To conclude, I would like to say that these future
observations will be published in Astronotes and compar
isons made. I hope that this project will stimulate
further instrument and observer comparisons in other
fields, perhaps with the planets.The map above is satisfactory for a start but I
would recommend a proper star atlas for greater detail.
The clusters are the easiest to see but as for the
planetaries- be careful. They usually need high power
to be distinguished from the surrounding stars.
VICE-CHAIRMAN'S REVIEW - 1969
1969 was a year of promise. It started off with an
old pro, Dr. Fred Lossing, being elected as Chairman and
a student (yours truly) as his Vice. The 1969 Coordina
tors, an almost carbon copy of the 1968 set, performed
admirably though in fits and starts.
January and February was the period of the big freeze
where the only excitement was the meteor group's sixth
annual celebration of defeat at the hands of the clouds
for the Quadrantid meteor shower.
March saw the second in a series of moon-Pleiades
occultations blessed by good weather (thank Goodness some
thing was!) and the prodigious paper work of Tom Tothill
was rewarded by voluminous results from observers.
In May the General Assembly was well attended and a
particularly good paper was presented by the Solar Divi
sion. Our man Stephen Craig was named National Solar
Coordinator and as a result of Assembly activities received
various promising proposals concerning national solar
activity. However, I note that the carrying out of a
programme has yet to be realized.
A much-discussed proposal for the construction of a
moderately large telescope was given great encouragement
and boost by Rick Lavery and in May we DID IT, securing
a 16-inch mirror blank from Japan. Grinding and polishing
began shortly after and is now nearly complete. Ultimately
the sixteen inch will directly benefit us all and on behalf
of the Observers Group I would like to offer my thanks and
much appreciation to Rick who was the driving force behind
At about this time Rick also put to active participat
ion the art of variable star observing (Confucius say: "A
watched variable never changes") and at a Fall meeting
followed up his Spring announcement of a Competition by
donating a plaque for the champion variable watcher.
Meanwhile, during the summer, the Observers Group
suspended meetings as observers planned their own individ
ual programmes. The Quiet Site was frequented a record
40 times by 42 people. The usual high-quality results of
meteor observations were recorded as well as some detailed
deep sky programmes by a few meteor drop-outs. Stellar
photography was dwelt upon at great length. Highlights
at this time included the annual Stellafane trip, this yearattended by seven Ottawa enthusiasts, and a trip by three
to Vermont for the Montreal Centre deep sky night.
In October, after meetings had resumed, the "R. Lavery
Memorial Fund for the Ottawa Centre Observers Group Sixteen
Inch Telescope" (please GIVE!) was founded. Contributions
have been generous but many more are needed. However,
donations are not everything and if they had been volun
teered as often as the elbow grease of Messrs. Lossing,
Tothill, Bean and others we would likely be able to scrap
the project altogether and make a bid for the Mount Kobau
Then another Pleiades pass was successfully observed
and the group's first look at a completed Dall-Kirkham
was realized. The meteor group valiantly attempted many
autumn meteor showers but not once could they celebrate
complete success with champagne (couldn't afford it anyway).
A most enjoyable year was rounded out by election of
officers for 1970 and a promise by coordinators that our
largest and most cumbersome piece of equipment - the epi
diascope which no one has ever learned to operate success
fully - would be abruptly phased out of use. Further oaths
are forthcoming concerning the quality of slides to be
shown (for instance, gentlemen, we would like to be able
to see them).
This year would not have been at all successful if it
had not been for the contributions of certain individuals.
Accordingly, many thanks go out to our chairman, Dr. Lossing
whose constant good humour was exceeded only by his never-
failing help in making this year work out well. I thank
also the editor of this news-letter who has, as per usual,
done so much for this group in every possible way. Ken
Perrins has kept us well supplied for two years now with
the necessary post-meeting caffein substances and for this
he deserves the Chant Medal. I thank Barry Matthews for
his help with activities in the summer and hope that we
can help him in any way we can before he leaves us in
There are others but I must stop and just thank every
one for the successful year of 1969. To the Observers
Group I wish clear skies, a Happy New Year and for all
Peace on Earth.
The nights of December 15, 16, 17 set a record for Ottawa.
They were three consecutive clear nights!!! For
those of you who couldn't get out to do some planetary
observing, let me just say that you really missed something.
Unfortunately there are only two planets out now, Mars and
Saturn, yet both of these came in very clear on those very
steady nights. Just because summer and the opposition of
Mars is gone there is no excuse to neglect it. When I
looked at it, I figured it would be a tiny white blob in
the scope, yet to ray amazement (I even went so far as to
take some pictures of it) Mars was beautiful. Although it
is small, those steady nights permitted use of 600 - 1000
power which showed many of the darker areas on the surface
just as well as in summer! The tremendous darkening of the
limb is really something to see.
As far as Saturn is concerned, those nights were the
best I had ever seen it, even when out at the Quiet Site.
Four very distinct bands, a dark polar cap, and the fascina
ting rings really add up to a beautiful sight. Even in a
small telescope the view is worth going out for. Cassini's
division in the rings was unusually large and very black,
and Al Miller and I believe that Encke's division was there
as well. Even though we used 8" telescopes, a two-inch
would have shown considerable detail, so even if you have
only a small scope get out and take advantage of these
clear nights. Now that the shadow on the rings of the ball
of the planet is shifted to the other side, I tried matching
an old and new photograph of Saturn to try and make a stereo
view of the planet. Theoretically this shouldn't work
because there has been no movement of the rings, yet when
I tried it, it did seem to be slightly 3-D. More movement
of the shadow will help. I am very interested in trying
stereo pictures and if anyone can give me a hand it will be
greatly appreciated. Drawings of the planets are always
easy to make by anyone, and I would recommend them over
just plain visual studying. Besides, by making a drawing,
one has to stay and observe a little longer, and this will
always reveal much more detail than first suspected.
This is a drawing done on those same nights with features slight
ly exaggerated to show up better.
Please, take advantage of these good nights - you won't regret it.
VARIABLE STAR SECTION
As of December 15, the summer variable star program
was terminated for 1969. The final observations will, I
hope, be in by January 1 and final reduction of the obser
vations can be completed for the February meeting ( a pre
liminary reduction of the summer observations was completed
and presented at the November meeting). The final results
will be compared with previous years and a paper or display
will be prepared for the General Assembly in May. The
success of this simple program should be recounted to the
other Centres across Canada who have no variable star
For 1970 the Variable Star Section will continue its
winter and summer variable star programs and will undertake
one other project. This is a rather pet project of mine
and most of the work will be done by myself. It involves
the determination of the limiting magnitude of as many
telescopes in the Centre as possible, with respect to one
telescope (mine, for convenience). The results of this
survey will be used to check the limiting magnitude formula
as well as letting their owners see how effective their
optical system is. It will be very interesting to see how
the "No-Nos" rate.
"IT WAS NICE KNOWING YOU!"
This is the last issue of Astronotes that will reach
those members who have not paid their fees for 1969-70.
To avoid that calamity, get in touch with Mary Henderson
today. Her number is 728-2411. Can you afford not to be
a member of this distinguished band of happy individualists
who would rather talk than listen, see it rather than read
about it, yet come eventually to some comprehension of the
The Committee on Coordination of Centre Activities
(we are resisting all attempts to call us the Cococanuts)
has two projects on the go. The first is to get out the
inaugural issue of CONVERGENCE, the national news-letter,
with the February issue of the Journal; articles should
reach Dr. John R. Percy at 252 College St, Toronto 2B by
Jan 15 at the latest. The second is a tape-talk with
slides from all Centres. See me if you have something good.