AstroNotes 1971 January Vol: 10 issue 01




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The Newsletter of the Ottawa Centre, RASC

Vol. 10, No. 1 January, 1971

Editors Tom Tothill 22 Delong Drive, Ottawa 9
Addresses: Howard Harris  667 Highland Ave, Ottawa 13
Circulations Ted Bean  399 McLeod Street, Ottawa 4


We are beginning to realize that Astronotes gets around when we get letters from faraway places like Brazil and Italy, when the National Library demands two copies of every issue and complains when they don't get them, when a couple of outfits want to list us in their directory of periodicals, and when we get quoted by such learned publications as the Calgary Star Seeker and Montreal's Skyward, where "you saw it first".

From this chair it often seems, on the other hand, as if we pontificate into a vacuum. We visualise 90% of the membership removing Astronotes delicately from the post box with thumb and index finger, and releasing same over the nearest waste basket.

If you customarily throw your Astronotes away after perusal (this message will not even reach the other 90%), STOP and THINK. Don't you have a friend somewhere, perhaps far away, that you haven't written to for donkey's ages and can't find the time to write? Send him your Astronotes, particularly if you got a mention somewhere (and, contrary to those periodicals who say 'a group of enthusiastic members has been observing....', we mention names whenever we can). If your friend is not too far away, he might even get interested in joining the Society to find out what all those 'in' jokes really mean.

This first issue of Vol. 10 might be a good place to point out that membership in the Society only costs $10 for adults or $5 for students, that this gives you about 10
issues of Astronotes and sundry lesser publications like the R.A.S.C. Journal and the Observers Handbook (a goldmine of simple, useful astronomical data for the year) and the privilege of attending meetings of the groovy Observers Group (first Friday of every month) and the Centre, at the Dominion Observatory. You can even contribute to Astronotes.


Sylvia Wake*

This meeting was chaired by Rick Lavery and was attended by 40 odd people (literally?).

The end of stage one of North Mountain Observatory and also the expected arrival of electricity to the site was announced. However, winter set in too early to permit
pouring of the concrete slab for the Observatory so not much more can be done before spring. This gives a breathing space for work on the mount, but that is continuing.

Some future plans of the Group were discussed. The Centre meeting for Dee 10 (Dr. Hemenway) was mentioned; unfortunately, poor weather on that night brought a poor attendance but the talk was excellent. The 1971 General Assembly will be held in Hamilton and a strong contingent from Ottawa should be possible. The book "Worlds in Colllsion" will be discussed at the January meeting. Of gastronomical interest (according to Rick Lavery) will be the dinner meeting on Jan 14. Also, now is the time to start planning for the 1972 solar eclipse.

Elected officers for 1971 are:

Chairman: Rick Lavery
Vice-Chairman: Doug Beaton
Lunar: John Florence Conville
Meteors: Ken Hewitt-White
Other co-ordinators have another year to go.

Next there was a very good seismological movie about volcanoes (at an astronomical meeting?) which was both educational and interesting and gave us a new insight into the heart of the earth, Jon Buchanan came in with a sun under his arm. With this he explained recent sunspot activity and his project to prove the four month sunspot cycle theory. Good luck, Jon! Oh yes; are there any people interested in doing solar?

The meeting concluded with a good slide show by Messrs. Tothill, Lossing, Miller, Dick, and Bean, The latter, on North Mountain Observatory, got prolonged applause,


Allen Miller*

During the month of December there have been quite a few events taking place. All of then unfortunately were either clouded or mooned out. The first was the Geminid shower, totally ruined by weather and the earth's other 'son', the moon. The second weirdness concerns a photograph, taken by Fred Lossing, that was shown at the December meeting. This particular shot of the Hyades has revealed a small faint condensation about a degree north of Aldebaran (Alpha Tauri).

The object, as Fred describes, could be a defect in the film, but magnification of the emulsion suggests that the patch could be real. I tried to confirm the photograph
on Dec 10, About north of Aldebaran was a tiny point patch but that’s all I can say since all I had at the time was a pair of 10 x 50 binoculars under a sky that was absolutely rank with moon. To get my sighting confirmed I asked Beaton Hill Observatory to take a look but due to the previous snowfall it could not comply.

Now here's where you people of Astronotes-land come in. I would ask you fantastic photographic nuts who enjoy the feeling of frostbitten toes and fingers to take some guided exposures of the area. I suggest this condensation will be around 15° away from Aldebaran and to be safe, shots should be taken of the entire area within a 20° radius of that star.

If you do succeed in the first run it is practically imperative that you do the entire sequence again waiting perhaps a few days to discover any moving objects.
I do realise that this object may not actually be there, even the odds suggest it to be unreal, but unless we can confirm or deny the first photograph we will never be quite certain whether or not we missed something. If you do photograph the area and find nothing don't be disappointed but try to realise the experience you're obtaining. But don't forget the other side of the story either - you might help to confirm Comet Lossing.

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Would the person who borrowed the NRC library copy of Howard's "Standard Handbook of Telescope Making" from me on or about last July 27 kindly return it? -Fred Lossing*


Rick Lavery*

1971 promises to be a great year for variable star observers in the Ottawa Centre. If the 16-inch is completed and installed by the summer, we will be able to take
advantage of its' deep magnitude penetration to observe some interesting types of variable stars. We could begin a program to observe eclipsing binary systems, for instance or flare stars, etc. I would appreciate hearing from some of our professional astronomers as to whether there is any possibility of searching for optical pulsars in the regions of the radio pulsars, I hope that variable star observers in the Centre will take an interest in programs for the 16-inch, as some very useful scientific information can be obtained. (More about the 16-inch programs next month).

There are still some odds and ends lying around from 1970. Primarily, there are the numerous outstanding observations which have yet to be reported to me. I ask that the observers in question please forward their reports to me before January 14, so that they can be entered for you for the VARIABLE STAR AWARD which will be presented at the dinner meeting.

Observer June July Aug Sept Oct Nov
Jon Buchanan - 22
John Conville 3 14 - - 5 -
Ken Hewitt-White - - - - - 43
Rick Lavery - - - - 5 3
John Rowlandson - - - - 5 3

I would like to remind all observers that SPECIAL report forms will be available at the January meeting for observations of the Hercules and Orion variables. Also,
commencing with the March issue, I will only be reporting observing totals for those six. You are invited to send your other observations to the AAVSO.
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Dr. Lossing and Bill Dey report that the 16-inch mirror now gives a perfect Everest Test and hasn't a single scratch on it. Unless the Dall Test shows otherwise, it
can be regarded as finished.


Ken Hewitt-White*

Another year has slipped past us so quickly and if it has been an indication, the seventies will indeed be kind to the Observers Group. 1970 began in good hands with one R. Lavery in command and yours truly as the head of observations.

There was a strong contingent of industrious co-ordinators who let the people know what was going on. The rest was easy. Captain Lavery carried on with several
group projects, vice-Hewitt completed his own individual project with Al Miller, the industrious co-ordinators gave us fabulous slide shows, and the people - well, for some inexplicable reason they just kept coming back to give us our highest meeting attendances in years.

Enter January. Brrr! The meteor gang made their annual sacrifice to the Quadrantid God (but succeeded this time) and started off on a record-breaking year of observations.

Anything else? Oh yes, a cup of MacDonald brew solidified in my hand, the first since the previous July.

Skip February and enter March. Mr. Lavery organized the whole deal for many observers to attend the solar eclipse in North Carolina. He put in a lot of work so that
we could catch a Montreal Centre bus for the 700-mile trip. Migawd! Did you say bus? Yes indeed, but the hours of sleepless driving were rewarded by a beautiful eclipse, the first for many, and many fine pictures of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Enter April and enter Bennett. Never have so many eyes held in such awe such a magnificent sight (except the eclipse?). Exit April stage left but remain in focus the
comet front and centre. On cometh May and our Fearless Fosdicks, Lavery and Matthews, wing west to take in the General assembly in Edmonton. Rick delivered an excellent paper expounding the virtues of variable star observing and Barry was given the official green light to resurrect the Halifax Centre, Our males reported that the heavenly bodies shone brightly on the prairies, particularly M13 and Miss Klondike Days.

From stage right comes June. The snow finally melts. Wait! The MacDonald brew finally thaws but mosquitoes take to it so lavishly that I lose my chance to give the
Quiet Site scopes their spring grease job. Enter and exit July quickly. It was too hot to stick around. I'm not sure how August got here but rumour has it
Tom Tothill began the month officially by snaring first prize at Stellafane. The 'Lossing Lashup' seconded the motion by winning third and the clouds voted to pass water over us all. Exit August and exit Barry for his new home in Halifax.

Start September and a new set of meetings. Summer progress on the 16-inch was reported as most satisfying and plans for a site began in earnest. Enter October and said site. Truly we have found heaven. The whole project nears completion and it can't help but give the group a real shot in the arm. Who do we have to thank? Rick started the idea many moons ago and what Rick starts, he generally finishes (but with considerable help from his friends).

Enter November and December and the Vicks that go with it. It rained and snowed (mucho, mucho). So we saw all sorts of movies at the meetings, were shown great
slides, and discussed heady new ideas. (Too vague? Come to the meetings and be enlightened). So, exit Dec and 1970. Hey! Just a minute, before you go, you ole' year. You wouldn't be possible if it weren't for some people. Like Digger Rick who seems to keep everything going. Like Stan Mott who says that if he ever gets all his books back at one time he'll run out of space to shelve them. (But that's okay, Pete, he'll take that year-overdue book any time!). Like Fred Lossing who helps everybody all the time Like Tom Tothill who keeps churning out this rag of his... whatsits...uh...Humournotes. And let us not forget the coffee people, for the Perrins & Grant Restaurant did a roaring trade. Perrins says that there are no profits but we wonder where he got that new red convertible last month.

There are many others; bless you all. Oh yes, a personal notes the Hewitt-Miller deep-sky book is the most satisfying thing that we have ever done. If it ever gets out of printing, we'll let you know.


Rolf Meier* (224-1200)

After months of searching, I came across possibly the best telescope mount I have ever seen for my 8-inch telescope - the rear axle of an automobile. I obtained it rather cheaply - for free in fact - as I took it from an abandoned car off the side of a side road. Removal from the car was easy, but carrying it home was another natter. With the help of a couple of friends, we carried the 125 lb mass 3/4 of a mile over fields and illegal railway crossings, trying hard to look inconspicuous. I was damned if I was going to carry it all the way home, so I took it the rest of the way by car. Now getting an axle into a Volkswagen is not the easiest thing in the world, but somehow, with a little juggling of the front seat, it was brought to my driveway for dismantling.

The important thing was to remove the crown gear, for otherwise, both axles would move together. With two pipe wrenches at a leverage of 6 ft, it was finally gotten apart with the help of neighbour Doug Beaton, Now the axle is ready, all 80 lbs of it, with 40 lbs of scrap for counterweights. I will probably make a cross-axis mounting, but this presents problems. I want a certain degree of portability since my present location in the suburbs is becoming increasingly unfavourable as an observing site. I would sure appreciate it if anyone can give me advice on how to support the axle and still have it portable. It is about 4' long and on 2½" ball bearings it is very steady. If anyone wants a steady mount, they should try to get one of these,
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Whaddya mean 'abandoned' - that was my car! Seriously, however, I know something about rear axles for telescopes because mine has a Chev rear axle for declination shaft, costs $3 at a junk yard. It is incredibly tough stuff for cutting or machining - I had to use carbide tools in the lathe - so I would advise using it the way it is if you can, using the existing bearings at each end and one half of the existing housing. However, you won't be able to save any weight and will just have to grow muscles if portability is required.


Doug Beaton*

This is just a short reminder to all that the planetary configuration is still in Libra, and that pictures should be taken within the next week or two. The configuration
should last perhaps into early February but after that the planets are too far apart to capture then on one picture. I found the best time for pictures was after six and before seven o'clock in the morn ing. If you happen to be up at seven, you might also look at Mercury down in the southeast. If slides or prints turn out well, bring them in to the next meeting.

Just so you will have a foggy idea that this event is going to happen, there is an occultation of Mars by the moon on the morning of May 16. My records show that over
the past 3 years the night of May 15-16 has always been clear, although I may have jinxed it by mentioning that fact.
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FOR SALE - Tasco 2.4"

Mrs. Tedford of 1792 Sharel Drive, Ottawa 8 (733-0573) has a Tasco 60-mm refractor for sale in new condition,
complete with clock drive, equatorial mount, three eyepieces,
3-power Barlow, etc. Cost was $200.
Price: $125.00
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The Council of the Ottawa Centre met at Dr, Gillieson's home to discuss, apart from usual business, arrangements for North Mountain Observatory and areas of responsibility. It was agreed that the Telescope Fund would be used as necessary to complete the telescope and the building of the observatory, and that further contributions to the Fund would be welcome. After completion of the essential construction work the Fund would be continued as an Observatory Fund for maintenance of the buildings, payment of hydro bills, etc. Payment of rent for the site could also be through the Fund, enabling the Trustees to claim tax


Rick Salmon*

To anyone who owns an adjustable camera, the reciprocal relationship that exists between image intensity and length of exposure is well known. By opening the lens a stop, and increasing the shutter speed by a factor of two, the exposure remains essentially unchanged.

The range of intensities over which this holds is amazingly wide, usually over an intensity range of at least 10,000. However, for subjects with very low inherent luminosity where exposure times are necessarily long, this reciprocal behaviour between length of exposure and image intensity fails.
For a subject that requires say 10 min exposure at f/4, the required exposure at f/5.6 is no longer 20 min but has increased appreciably, perhaps to as much as 35 min. It is this large increase in length of exposure, required for fainter objects, which is the main reason that photographs of astronomical objects are so tediously long.
There exist several partial escapes from these long exposures which are open to astronomers, including freezing the emulsion, hypersensitization, and most recently evacuating the emulsion.

Hypersensitizlng, usually done with a water, alcohol, or ammonia bath, doesn't afford an escape from reciprocity failure but simply increases the sensitivity of the film,
at the expense of fogging at the same time. On the other hand, freezing and evacuating don't increase film speed (in the sense of freezing, actually lowering film speed somewhat) but afford a very effective escape from reciprocity failure.

The effect of evacuating the emulsion during or prior to exposure is a fairly new discovery. Researchers at Kodak have found, by evacuating an emulsion to 10-8 torr (mm Hg), i.e. about 10-11 atmosphere for about 8 hours, and then exposing it at low intensity, that reciprocity failure is all but non-existent. This results, for at least some emulsions, in an effective increase in speed of up to tenfold. Of particular interest is the fact that by evacuating the emulsion and then bringing it back into an atmospheric environment before exposure, much of the reciprocity characteristics of the evacuated emulsion remain. Also, if - once the emulsion is degassed - an inert atmosphere is substituted, all the characteristics of the evacuated emulsion are sustained,

At the moment, Kodak is planning on pre-evacuating photographic plates and packaging them separately in an inert atmosphere. The astronomer would then open the package immediately prior to exposure and use the plate in the usual manner, taking into account that there is no longer a reciprocity failure.
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Tom Tothill*

The Annual Dinner is always a good bash. After eating soup to nuts there is usually a little business to discuss (as this is also the official Annual Meeting of the Centre) and then an address by a distinguished guest or sometimes by the President. This year the guest is Dr. Helen Hogg and her address will concern transits of Venus. However, she is also known for her wit and no fear of an excessively dry talk need be maintained. The dinner will be at the new Faculty Club at Carleton University on Thursday, January 14th. Further details will reach you by mail.
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Optimist: He who uses flash bulbs to photograph the stars.
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Contributions to Astronotes are always welcome - particularly from those who haven't contributed before. They may be handwritten but we prefer typed (the better to
judge how they will fit). Contributors to this issue whose names are marked with an asterisk (*) have handwriting that is totally unacceptable. -Ed.