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The Newsletter of the Ottawa Centre, RASC
Vol. 9, No. 6 June, 1970
Editor: Tom Tothill 22 Delong Drive, Ottawa 9
Addresses: Howard Harris 620 Keenan Ave, Ottawa 13
Circulation Ted Bean 399 McLeod St, Ottawa 4
Rick Lavery did a fine job of covering the General Assembly for us, returning loaded with papers, reports, photos, and a tape of the important meeting of COCOCA.
The latter meeting was attended by about 50 people representing most of the Centres across Canada. Several of the steps for which we have been pressing, as outlined in last month's Editorial, seem on the way to fulfilment so far as the National Newsletter is concerned. The cost of printing is to be investigated and a recommendation to increase the size to 'not more than 8' pages has been made to National Council. A list of names was put before the meeting and a vote taken on each. The name securing the most votes was 'Newsletter', with 'Convergence' second and 'Albedo' third.
In your scribe’s opinion, it will be necessary to add a French title to 'Newsletter', thereby wasting some of the limited space available, whereas either of the other two would not need it. Whether we like the new title or not, however, it is progress that one has been selected by a properly democratic process - the only flaw in which was possibly the fact that only one French voice was heard in the deliberations. A few more might have changed the result. Ken Chilton of the Hamilton Centre who has been by far the most active of the National Coordinators has been appointed as a kind of 'Super-Coordinator' to light a fire under some of the others where it seems to be needed, and has already been active in this role. Actually, the Society has gone along with a perennial list of National Coordinators for too long and some of them, after an initial burst of enthusiasm, have become discouraged by the lack of
response across the country to their entreaties for observations.
You might say that Rick Lavery's Variable Star group, now functioning so successfully, points the moral. It took a lot of persistence and time to get it off the ground, but now it's flying high.
OBSERVERS GROUP, MAY 1st
This meeting had 33 in attendance and was chaired by Rick Lavery.
Rick recommended a historical issue of Astronotes to be put out in the Editor's summer break. He drew attention to Stellafane which will be taking place on Aug 1st this year in Vermont. He also announced that there is no objection by Council to the Observers Group making money by selling, say, eclipse pictures or Xmas cards - which need a good photograph before getting underway.
Ken Hewitt-White announced that Jon Buchanan is the new Solar coordinator, and reminded members of the star parties scheduled for May 8-9 and May 29 or 30. Doug Beaton spoke about ALPO and the planetary configuration of April 18. Ken came back to remind us of the transit of Mercury on May 9th, when only the 3rd and 4th contacts would occur after sunrise.
Slides of Comet Bennett were then shown.
Barry Matthews spoke on the "lune" and an occultation in April, and reported that his tabulation of occultations in last month's Astronotes contained an error and should not be used.
Rick Lavery initiated a new variable star program with new charts, etc.
Slides were shown of the planetary configuration, some slides by Robert Dick, and aurora slides by Ed ter Heijden.
Ken asked for observers for the Beta Aquarid meteor shower, and for new observers in general.
Finally, Rick Lavery gave a preview of the very interesting talk which he later presented at the General Assembly in Edmonton. The topic was 'Variable Star Observing, Ottawa Centre'.
HOW ABOUT THAT SUMMER ISSUE?
It is hoped that we can record in Astronotes special HISTORICAL ISSUE - some of the history of the Observers Group prior to our first issue of Astronotes in December of 1962; anecdotes of founding members, etc. Yes?
GENERAL ASSEMBLY REPORT 1970
The DC-9 took off in the glistening sunlight of a
picturesque sunrise. As we circled and gained altitude
we headed west over the Ottawa River. Suddenly the plane
began to buck air turbulence. I looked out the window to
see the Quiet Site below me, and wished that Ken H-W
didn't snore so much. Thirty minutes later we landed in
the pouring rain at Toronto International Airport.
Two hours later we left Malton with Mrs. Fidler and
a number of other RASC members, 15 in all. The flight
west was mostly over cloud so Barry Matthews and I predicted
a bad weekend for the Quiet Site set. We landed in
Edmonton under the clear prairie skies and 80 degree temperature!!
Friday night was the Gastronomical Banquet. Miss
"Klondike Days" was there (a sure bet to be the centrefold
for the National Newsletter - Wow!!) Later in the
evening two talks were given; one called "Once upon a
Perseid" by members of the Toronto Centre, and the other
on the Solar Eclipse from Mexico. Both were quite good.
The papers session was at 9 a.m. the next morning,
at which there were 110 members present. After some
initial trouble from Murphy's Law the papers went very
well. It was a very interesting set of papers. Pausing
only long enough for us to catch a bite to eat the session
continued with the COCOCA meeting. Chairman John Percy
tabled an extensive report on the year's operation. This
was the first time the National Coordinators were raked
over the coals. Had any of the negligent coordinators
been present I am sure they would have been hung by their
thumbs (Chilton, Milton, and Lowe were present - all are
The Annual Meeting started out very tamely with presentations to Mrs. Campbell (Edmonton), Norman Green (Hamilton), Mr. Fallows (Unattached). When the Any Other Business part of the meeting was brought up, Angus Smith of Edmonton presented a motion that the National Coordinators be elected yearly at the Annual Meeting. After about an hour of arguing John Percy amended the motion so that the National Coordinators be reviewed by Council and that the Coordinators publish a report in the March supplement issue of the "Journal".
I believe that this motion was carried almost unanimously. Sunday was the first break we had had from the affairs of the RASC, and a change was greatly appreciated. The tour of the Alberta Game Farm was very enlightening. Later that evening was the Banquet, held at Edmonton House - the food was great. The highlight of the evening was Dr. Heard's presentation of the Ruth Northcott Memorial Lecture. This lecture was the best lecture I have ever heard and it was a great tribute to a very devoted person. It would be nice if the Ottawa Centre could have Dr. Heard present his lecture here.
Monday afforded us time to look around downtown Edmonton. One would be surprised at the number of skyscrapers now forming Edmonton's skyline. It is a real boom town. Barry and I stopped into a very luxurious restaurant before departing for the plane. To top off a wonderful weekend, my fortune cookie said "Study and Observe".
The trip back was very uneventful. The skies were clear all the way to Toronto, affording Barry and me some great views of the prairies. The final leg home was slow.
We took off from Toronto amid fireworks displays at the ONE and so slowly crawled home. It hazed over just outside of Ottawa.
So all in all it was an excellent Assembly and very well attended. Barry was given the final formal go-ahead from the National Council for the re-formation of the Halifax Centre.
Ottawa members who attended were, myself (I think), Barry Matthews, Mary Grey, Dr. Halliday and Dr. Locke. I would like to thank the Ottawa Council and the National Council for their monetary assistance enabling me to attend the General Assembly 1970.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
The past two months have contained several unusual
events pertaining to the planets. First there was the
very unusual planetary and lunar configuration in mid-
April, slides of which were shown at the last meeting.
May 9th held many good events: the transit of Mercury
could be seen between clouds in the morning and at night
Mars passed only 0.2 degrees away from Venus. That event
was rained out, as was the star night. Since June 5 is
the last meeting until the Fall, don't forget to keep an
eye on the Handbook for planetary news.
Mercury does not have any real good elongations so
it will rarely be seen in the summer. Venus is heading
for elongation in September but it will be best seen in
late August when it it still high in the sky, bright, about
23 seconds of arc in diameter, and looking almost like a
quarter moon. Venus looks bad now but will improve, so
don't miss it before it goes into the solar glare.
Jupiter also has looked disappointing, but by late
June it should show a tremendous amount of detail.
I'd like to thank John Rowlandson for his drawings
of Venus and Jupiter which were passed on to me by Rick
Lavery. Any observations are always appreciated. I include
below a sketch of the proper ellipse for drawings of
the disk of Jupiter, taken from A.L.P.O. It would be a
good practice to copy about six on a sheet and make drawings
on six consecutive nights. Positions of belts and
spots should be marked quickly and delicate detail drawn
on as it is best seen. Take a few minutes to watch each
area and new detail will always come to view as the atmosphere
Jupiter, every 10°
Same scale as p. 14.
Use for estimating Lat. and Long. of belts, spots, etc. on your drawings.
For the early bird, Saturn will rise at only 10 pm in September.
Anyway, have a good summer and don't forget to take some observations.
DEEP SKY - Nothing
Because of clouds beyond my control
All Deep Sky Wonders were cancelled for May.
They should reopen sometime in June
But whether or when I could not say.
If you wish to try this out first find the focus
for an infinite object (such as a star or some similar
wonder) and mark it exactly on the drawtube. You will
soon notice that the focus moves out for closer objects.
Exact focusing and very careful measurement of the eyepiece
movement will give you the distance of them.
THE SCOPE AS A RULER?
While looking through the new Gregorian at distant houses, telephone poles and ants, I have noticed that the focus varies quite a bit with the distance of the object. In scanning through my old Grade 11 records I discovered the following formula, usually used to find the focal length of a mirror or lens:
F2 = So x Si
So = Distance to object from front focus (the focus of a Newtonian or one focal length ahead of a refractor lens) and
Si = Distance of image from infinity focus.
F = Focal length.
The formula can also be reversed to measure distance:
So = F2/Si
For example if F = 150 inches and Si = ½ inch,
So = 22500/½ = 45000 inches = 3750 feet. The object is
3750 ft away.
ASTRONOMICAL STAMP FROM GREAT BRITAIN
On April 5th, 1970, Great Britain issued a stamp
commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Royal Astronomical
Society. The stamp is a beautiful pink colour;
the Queen's head gold. The stamp was designed by Marjorie
Saynor and depicts a number of distinguished gentlemen
(astronomers?) discussing a paper and Sir William Herschel's
(1738 - 1822) 40 foot reflector in the background. The
trio are looking at Herschel's paper which is titled "The
Georgian Planet with its Satellites".
Certainly this stamp does honour the Royal Astronomical
Society - a Society well deserving of this prestige. Maybe
when the R.A.S.C. has its 150th anniversary it will deserve
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
VARIABLE STAR SECTION
To clarify a rather confusing situation, I will
define what constitutes the program variables. Only
observations of these stars will be counted in the monthly
totals. This does not prevent an observer from observing
other variables - in fact I would encourage observers to
do this and report the results in Astronotes. The reason
for putting a limit on the number of variables is to allow
everyone to observe all the variables. Finally, having
over 12 active observers reporting estimates, it would be
impossible to reduce the data from an infinite program.
Let's do the following stars intensively, rather than take
over the AAVSO. Here are the program stars:
I would also like to ask that all observers use the
normal date system (e.g. June 3) rather than the Julian
date. It would also be a great help if observers would
arrange their observations on the report form by variable
rather than by order of observation. For example:
g Herc June 3__ ___
" " 10 ________
X Herc June 3 ___
" " 10
Your cooperation would be appreciated.
Monthly Report (April)
It should be noted that the number of observers
making variable estimates this past month is greatly
reduced. This was observed to have happened last year
at this time, so the coordinator is not panicking. This
is where our stalwart observers will be able to gain some
ground on the off-again, on-again observers. I wish
everybody a good summer and good observing weather.
Robert Dick 41
Ken Hewitt-White 85
Rick Lavery 10
Chris Martin 65
Allen Miller 59
CH Cyg, AF Cyg, R Lyr
SS Virginis, R Virginis
Z Ursa Maj
ST Ursa Maj, Y CVen, V CVn
UU Aur, Y Lyn
X Can, RT Can
U Mon, X Mon, RV Mon, RY Mon, W Can Maj
W Ori, CK Ori, RX Leporis
g Herc, X Herc, RR Cor Bor
AN EXPERIMENT IN VISION
A question which has probably crossed the minds of
all observers everywhere is whether or not the eye's
potential for seeing is increased as the iris is opened.
I recently underwent an eye examination in which
drops were administered to my eyes so therefore I was able
to take advantage of twice the eye's normal aperture for
a short period of time. It has been proven that on a dark
night of good seeing, the eyes will open to an aperture of
7 mm and stars of the 5th magnitude will become visible.
During the period in which the drops are affecting the
eyes, the pupils dilate to an aperture of 15 mm which is
two F: stops faster than normal night vision.
At this point I feel that an excerpt from A.T.M. #2
is appropriate. This excerpt stated that the corneal lens
of the eye was by far the most imperfect lens system,
producing an inferior image to even that of a penny
magnifier. There is one final factor to be mentioned
before the observations are stated. This factor is the
muscular focusing mount in which the cornea is seated
which is influenced by such things as eye strain and
reactions to certain chemicals such as the eye drops.
With the preceding factors in mind plus the knowledge
that as aperture increases the depth of field decreases,
it is not hard to understand why although the sky was
extremely bright because of the extra aperture, the
limiting magnitude was less than 4th magnitude due to lack
of accurate focus. However, it was noted that the out-offocus
images were brighter than usual.
The main reason for such a low limiting magnitude is
that as the star goes out of focus it scatters light over
a greater area thus weakening its image brightness.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Rack and Pinion - same as Edmund's #50,077
plus Diagonal Holder # 60,049 $7.00
Doug Beaton 224-1789
THE DOPE ON SCOPES
In response to recent requests for advice on what
to look for when buying commercial telescopes, I am listing
herewith my own personal 'yeses' and 'no-nos'. The list
is not intended to be complete nor is it meant to be
particularly authoritative. It is merely a collection
of scopes which I have run into personally. Consequently,
descriptions are subject to prejudices so that you may
not agree entirely with what I have to say. Nevertheless,
I hope that this list will guide you in selecting a scope
and prevent you from making a mistake that you might
It would be impossible to write a paragraph on each
scope so I have tabulated them in list form. The ratings
are out of a high of ten. A question mark indicates that
no experience was had in that area.
Telescope Mount Optics
Tasco reflectors 4½" 8
Features 9 Excellent finder, reasonable price.
4 Wonderful slowmotions
but tripod unsure. Counterweight insufficient diag too small.
Tasco refractors 2.4”
6 8 Mount will not wear too well.
9 ? With drive, slow motion.
Unitron refractors 9 ? But expensive.
Questar 3½" 10 10 Not sufficient for deep sky.
Lossing and Tothill reflectors
15 15 Should they go into business?
* * * * * * * * * * * *
You can’t afford us. Heck, we can scarcely afford
- L & T
For a change we are having more clear nights than
cloudy. However, I believe that there is still a great
deal of reading being done between exams and cloudy nights.
Maybe, just maybe, our librarian will take over this
article. How about it, Stan? (Perhaps a catalogue or list
of books available.)
The book I would like to recommend this month is Neil
E. Howard's "The Telescope Handbook and Star Atlas", #125
in our library.
This convenient introduction to Amateur Astronomy is
a comprehensive guide for those two to twelve inch scope
owners, or to people contemplating a scope in this range.
Mr. Howard describes all kinds of scopes with an eye to
cost, use and performance. Once the decision has been
made, Neil Howard draws on more than 30 years of experience
in Astronomy in giving the capabilities and limitations of
mountings and eyepieces.
A unique set of naked eye star maps is supplemented
with a transparent overlay showing celestial objects visible
through a telescope.
An accompanying celestial gazetteer groups objects
by type: single/double stars, variables, clusters and
nebulae. An hour by hour guide to the Messier catalogue
follows with the location, NGC number, angular size and
a brief description of each. Last, but not least, this
atlas concludes with a study of the members of our own
solar system, and tables of tangents, sines, time conversions,
After talking to a few of the more knowledgeable
members of the Observers Group who had read or browsed
through this handbook/atlas, they agreed without exception
that this is a fine book worthy of time it would take to
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
The three M's - Matthews, Miller, and Martin - seem
to have divergent views about the weather last month. Chris
Martin informs us that June had 0 to 5 days without sun,
182 to 292 hours of bright sunshine, and 2.2 to 4.7 inches
of rain during the last four years, but that don't prove
nothin' about June 1970 so we've cut out the rest of it.
METEORS - THE SPRING REPORT Ken Hewitt-White
It is an acknowledged fact that spring meteors are
not exactly an exciting thing. Nevertheless, with the
Quadrantids giving 1970 a good start, we have decided to
observe every convenient night in order that we might
break some kind of record by the end of the year. To the
712 meteors we recorded on January 2/3, we have added
another 162 taken on three nights this spring. Weather
has largely been against us, giving clear week-days and
cloudy weekends. The maximum of the Eta Aquarids was
observed on April 14/15 but the results were disappointing.
Only 17 Aquarids were seen by three observers while 25
sporadics came through. Herculids were recorded on all
three nights but there is insufficient data accumulated
to provide for a decent analysis. It seems that the peak
came earlier than expected but we can't be sure. Murphy
was with us on the night of May 8/9 when we had six
people available to try and prove an early peak - it
rained all night.
There will be a few more attempts at spring meteors
before June 21. If you are interested, see Chris Martin.
Right now, here is a list of observer standing as of
Observer Jan May May May Total
2/3 3/4 4/5 17/18
Martin, C. 205 210
Dick, R. 149 14 171
Hewitt-White, K. 96 23 23 2 144
Conville, J. 113 24 137
MacKinnon, P. 131 131
Miller, A. 65 26 8 99
Dawm, P. 99 99
Paterson, D. 82 5 87
Wake, S. 74 74
Craig, S. 34 10 3 47
MacDonald, L. 24 14 38
Lavery, R. 20 20
Grand total: 1257
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
THE SIXTEEN INCH
Dr. Lossing is figuring by hand. Not a scratch on it.
TEACHING THE COMPUTER TO THROW EGGS
PLANET 'X', every 10°. Note how parallels crowd to equator.
As you know this will be the last article I will
have for Astronotes as Lunar Coordinator. At our last
meeting of the Observers Group I talked about a computer
program to calculate occultation times. At the next
meeting I will have new sheets available giving times
for various locations in the Ottawa area.
Please time as many of these occultations as possible
for proving in of my program.
Last but by far not least, I would like to thank all
the members of the Ottawa Centre (in particular the
Observers Group) for the help and encouragement over the
last 2 years. A special thanks for Dr. Lossing, Ken
Perrins, Ted Bean, Rick Lavery and Ken Hewitt-White.
Without their patience and perseverance I would have
dropped my goal of reopening the Halifax Centre.
The National Council has asked that I represent the
Halifax Centre at the Council meetings in Edmonton.
Again, Thank you.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
And the best of luck from all of us, Barry.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *