AstroNotes 1972 June Vol: 11 issue 06



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The Newsletter of the Ottawa Centre, RASC

Vol. 11, No. 6 - June, 1972

Circulation: Tom Tothill
Mary Grey
Ted Bean
22 Delong Drive, K 1 J 7E6
Dom. Observatory, 994-5474
399 McLeod Street, K 2 P 1A5
The Observers Group has, for two or three years past,
been going from strength to strength, as shown by the num­
ber of people attending meetings regularly, by the quality
of the discourses, by group results such as those of the
meteor and variable star sections, by the excellence of
telescopes that have been made by members, and finally by
the quality of contributions to this publication.
Members of the Group have never regarded themselves
as being particularly expert in astronomy, regarding it as
fun first and work second. If there were no fun to be had
out of it, in fact, we might well lose some of our most
outstanding members. It came as somewhat of a surprise,
therefore, to find that the newer members regard most of
the more experienced members with a certain amount of awe,
supposing that because they know a lot of technical jargon
they must be experts, or worse! The fact is that our
experts were new members only a few years ago and didn't
take long to get over their awe of the former 'experts'.
The process is, indeed, being speeded up even more as
a result of the election of Barry Matthews as New Member
Co-ordinator, and the well-thought-out programme of instruc­
tion in the basics that is proving so popular. Evidently
there is a real need for this sort of thing.
When amateur astronomy moves out of the city back
yards and into the dark skies of the countryside, it ga ins.
The constellations are so much richer in stars that they
require a deeper level of appreciation and study. The
magnificent facilities available to us at the Quiet Site
and North Mountain could be a major cause of the upsurge in
interest and participation, but friendly and amusing people
are what keeps it alive.OBSERVERS GROUP MEETING - M A
Y 5
Cathy Hall
Our May meeting, chaired by Mr. Tothill, yielded a very
interesting variety of talks by various persons,
Rob Dick, deep-sky co-ordinator, spoke on globular
clusters, such as M- 1 3 , with accompanying slides.
Meteor co-ordinator Ken Hewitt-White talked on activity
for the past month, i.e. the Lyrid shower, and encouraged
interested members to try their eye at observing these
fantastic light phenomena.
Art Fraser, having recovered from the
exceedingly good slide presentation on the
observatory at Vernon, with samples of his
results. What a beautiful colour photo of
flu, gave an
building of his
Comet Bennett!
A day-by-day slide sequence on the planetary configura­
tion of Venus, Mars, and Saturn was shown by Rolf Meier, our
co-ordinator in that field. He mentioned the possibility of
discovery of a tenth planet, "Planet X", followed by more
slides on Jupiter (the bands have been really neat looking
lately), Venus, earthshine on the moon, and the breathtaking
auroral curtains and rays of April 20/21.
Our guest speaker, Professor George Klein, gave an
excellent talk on the mechanical as opposed to the optical
construction of a scope. He discussed mountings, tubes, and
bearings with reference to material, mass, rigidity, and
thermal conductivity, using as illustration a homebuilt
wooden tube and mount and various other objects. Thank you,
sir, for a very fascinating and informative talk!
In closing, Mr. Tothill announced the Ottawa Centre's
acquisition of the Small Dome contents, i.e. several good-
sized refractors for photographic work and a comet camera
all on a clock-driven mount. Suggestions are open as to
where they will be located, and Mr. Hans Klinkenberg is to
head a committee to look after the matter. These fine
Brashear instruments should yield many new possibilities
for photographic artistry.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
After the June 2 meeting, the Observers Group will not
reconvene until Sept 8 . avoiding the Labour Day weekend,
Jean Knapp
There were 26 people present on the 14th and 34 on the
2 1 st, chaired by Ken Hewitt-White.
On the 14th,
Ken began with an
ors, what to look
telescope is best
with a reflector and a refractor set up,
explanation of telescopes, settings, mirr­
for when buying one, lenses, what each
used for, prices, and pros and cons of
Test a telescope before buying it and don't hesitate to
ask anyone in the Centre for their help in checking it for
Barry Matthews assisted Ken in explaining the alignment
on Polaris, setting the telescope to follow the path of a
star, locating stars, planets, Venus in daylight, the alt­
azimuth and equatorial mountings, and our celestial sphere
(model brought by Stuart Kerman, Brockville, which helped
to clarify the visible sky from 45° N, the equator, and
North and South poles.)
Allen Miller talked about telescope mirrors.
Slides were shown on The Sky as a Clock, Refractors,
Reflectors, Right Ascension, Declination, and some of stars
and aurora.
Isabella Darin-Zanco taped about one hour of the
meeting, and brought two very interesting cameras.
The Library was open, and Stan Mott available. The
meeting was very informal with lots of questions being
asked and it was enjoyed by all, finishing about 10 : 30 .
At the back of the room a boy sound asleep curled up
in a chair. Remind you of someone, Chris?
The meeting on the 21st began with a review by Ken
(on request) of the celestial sphere, RA and Dec, rotation
of the Earth, and the Seasons,
Barry explained about taking sky objects from a star
atlas and. locating them with a telescope, ways to measure
the sky, and how to use the Finder, Then there were slides
on how to find sky objects this way.- 4 -
There were slides on the Moon - very good clear, close-
up views.
Then Rob Dick talked about how deep-sky objects appear
in a telescope, pros and cons of the refractor and the ref­
lector, seeing conditions, dark adaptation, averted vision,
and suitable eyepieces. Human factors also hamper good
viewing - be comfortable.
Ken told us about the "Order of our Universe", Earth
and Moon, inferior and superior planets, asteroids, and
showed slides on the Sun, Moon, and planet configurations,
followed by an explanation and drawings of our Galaxy.
Walter Turner had slides on the Moon - unusual but good-
and also on the planetary configuration.
Rob Dick showed Deep-Sky slides including M- 1 3 , M- 3 1 ,
and the Dumbell Nebula.
The Library was open again, thanks to Stan Mott, and
plans were made re the trip to North Mountain the following
night. (Did the Swami forget to get in touch with Murphy?)
I want to personally thank all who made these two
meetings so enjoyable and helpful, I hope that the response
is good enough to have such meetings continue in the Fall.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Rolf Meier
This summer we can travel further than any summer va­
cation we have ever taken, millions of light-years further,
to outer galaxies and other worlds. To start out with, we
have some planets in our own solar system that deserve
Jupiter is in one of the most spectacular regions of
the sky this year. It comes into opposition on the 24th of
June, and remains prominent in Sagittarius’ milky way region
for the summer, passing by some great scenery. On the 18th
of June, at 23 h 23m DST, it will occult the 8.9 mag star
SAO 186658 . Foreboding, isn't it? During July, Jupiter
will be close to the cluster M- 8 , passing within a degree,
making for a terrific wide-field view. Needless to say,
high-power drawings of Jupiter are quite satisfying.Venus is going to be a crescent for a while, and will
turn back and go into the morning sky, maximum western
elongation being on August 26 th. It will be easily sighted
west of the sun during the eclipse of July 10, as well as
Mercury to the east. Elongations of Mercury are on July 10,
in the evening sky, and August 25 in the morning sky. That
Eclipse is going to be a highlight for this summer. Travel­
ling a few hundred miles on the surface of the earth to see
totality is insignificant compared to the reward of the
Going further out, near the edge of our system, the
search continues for comets. If one of us finds a new one,
think of the implications - the prestige it will bring to
the finder and our Centre. In the summer it will be com­
fortably warm, too, so maybe you won't mind long hours of
sweeping the sky.
What about further out? What can I say, but that the
greatest thrill on a dark night is finding some unfamiliar
but amazing deep-sky object. For full enjoyment, the sug­
gested guide is the book written by members of our own
Centre, "A Midsummer Night's Dream".
The summer stars are the greatest, alright. To get
around in this sky, you'd be a liar if you drove around a
Vega, because all you really need is your best scope,
Seriously, though, when Sirius starts to rise earlier and
earlier in the morning, you know it is time to hibernate
or migrate to the south for the winter.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
6 , 1972
Dear Mr. Tothill;- Apr
I received your letter some time ago,
vacation, occasioned a delay to reply. but being on
Following our talks from last year, I am always very
pleased to help your group and you could certainly use our
land, have electric power 110 volts A.C. etc....
If possible, I suggest that if you could be here one
or two days before the group, I could show you all the roads
in the wood and specially to visit with me the Mont Loganwhich I think is the best observation point for the eclipse.
Mont Logan is one of the highest mountains in Eastern Canada
and from the TV tower antenna there, you can see the St. Law­
rence River and the North Shore like Baie Trinite and Pointe
des Monts.
At the same time we could visit my moose hunting camp
which could accommodate 8 persons with all the facilities.
There is also at two miles from my camp a saw-mill and if
you find the place suitable you could have accommodation
for 50 persons, food and gas.
It will be desirable that you advise me two or three
days before your arrival here and I will arrange my schedule
For the use of our land, electric power 110 A.C., my
hunting camp, we are offering these facilities to your group
without any charge to any person of your group.
Yours very truly,
B. Verreault.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Tom Tothill
You may be sure that we have accepted Captain Verreault's
magnificent offer with the greatest cordiality. Without his
knowledge of the country our options would have been far
more restricted and we now have a choice of four sites, the
actual choice to be made early on the Day when we have a
fair idea what the weather prospects are. Mount Logan
could be an exciting prospect for a really perfect day,
while the coast is likely to be better if there are some
clouds about.
The current count is about 28 bodies and at least 8
cars for the expedition, I shall be driving down on Friday
to scout the country with Capt. Verreault on Saturday and
Sunday, Others are recommended to drive to the Verreault
Navigation Co. shipyard at Les Mechins where they can camp.
Time is getting short for making equipment and checking
it out. We have no organized group plans, except perhaps
for the shadow-band group, so decide for yourself what you
Cathy Hall
With the advent of summer come monstrous mosquitos,
squelching heat, and ...meteor showers! So we the under­
signed present a list of the showers to be witnessed by
those willing to brave the elements and the rather strange
Max. evening date
Zeta Perseid
Alpha Scorpiid
Beta Taurid
Alpha-Beta Pers.
*Delta Aquarid
Pisces Australid
Alpha Capricorn,
Iota Aquarid
Zeta Draconid
June 6
June 6
June 9
June 9
June 1.6
June 20
June 26
June 28
June 30
July 19
July 25
July 29
July 30
Aug 1
Aug 5
Aug 12
Aug 22
Aug 24
Aug 30
Aug 31
Duration (days) Radiant
04 :08 + 24
16:48 - 23
14:42 + 45
18:32 + 35
17:20 - 20
12:18 - 18
14:20 + 57
03:40 + 15
20:56 + 47
03:12 + 43
22:36 - 17
22:40 - 30
20:36 - 12
22:18 - 10
03 :08 + 56
08:30 + 75
17:28 + 63
04:56 + 42
04:24 + 50
Also with summer comes ... full-time jobs? ... yes, but
neither sleet nor snow can stop ... well, maybe, but we'll
do our best. In all probability someone will be out at the
Quiet Site most times - clear nights that is. If you're
interested, ring me up at 825-1628 and, after the end of
June, Ken at 733-4949. We'll reserve you a coffin!
* These two are the only ones listed in the Observers
Handbook during the period in question.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
I wouldn't put it past our redoubtable meteor group to
be yelling "Time!" during the total eclipse!
Rolf Meier
Last month Barry Matthews described various projects
that could be carried out in observing the moon. One of
these in particular caught my attention as being rather
interesting, this being the size-frequency relation. A good
project would be to estimate the number of craters of a
certain size, down to the smallest visible, over a certain
telescope field. When this information is graphed, it
should look something like this:
The falling off near the end will occur as one reaches
the limit of resolution, where counting will become diffi­
cult. Perhaps the graph will look different depending on
whether the surveyed area of the moon is a mare area or
heavily cratered. Maybe even the lighting will produce
different counts, indicating what size may best be seen
under certain lighting.
Since the biggest difficulty will be estimating sizes,
a grid of some sort at the focal plane is what I suggest.
Then the craters can be counted easily, so many filling 10
squares, so many filling 9 squares, and so on.
What will be the significance of the results? It
should indicate something about the frequency of the size
of meteorite which produced the craters. If separate counts
are made for new and old craters, it may even indicate how
the occurrence of certain sizes of meteorites in the solar
system has changed over long periods of time. As usual when
observations of this kind are made, the date, time, and
seeing conditions should be noted, as well as the coordinates
of the centre of the field and the sun’s angle of illumina­
tion (sun's selenographic colongitude from the Handbook).NOTES ON OJ 287 - (2)
Ken Hewitt-White
Last month I introduced the OJ programme to you and
discussed a few points concerning short-period variations.
This month I would like to discuss OJ as a source of long-
period fluctuations.
The OJ programme is now complete for 1972 and well over
1000 observations have been received. The most recent of
these had been attempted in a series of only 35 - 40 per
night where 20 minutes to one half hour would represent a
night's work. This has been done in an attempt to try and
isolate daily fluctuations of magnitude, Since February, OJ
287 has been steadily declining in brightness. By mid-March,
all observers began to notice that short-period (30 sec to 2
min) fluctuations were easing off and that a five to ten
minute series of observations would often be quite represen­
tative of the quasar's magnitude for that night. Very re­
cently (early May) the magnitude of OJ has seemed very steady
and quite faint (about 13.7 mag). The slow daily decline
was revealed by plotting, after the very rapid fall in early
February - the feature which caught our eye and prompted us
to turn our attention to long period investigation.
The early-February event has been known to happen
before at radio wavelengths. Dr. Andrew's results at 2.8
and. 4.5 cm show several such rapid changes.
Our results can be interpreted in two ways. Firstly,
we could say that the events observed are real, Thus the
quasar is seen to be slowly dimming and becoming less active.
This would make it falling off the crest that Andrew has
described (see Astrophysical Letters. 1971, Vol. 9 , pp. 151-
154) and coming back down to its pre -19 7 1 'normal state' (see
also May Astronotes). In this scheme, the problem of scin­
tillation becomes resolved since the great fluctuations seen
in January and February no longer exist. Scintillation
should essentially be a constant parameter throughout the
The second interpretation assumes that all the obser­
vers were off their rockers in early February and are just
now settling down to accurate observing, Thus the erratic
pulses in winter are explained by inexperienced quasar obser­
vers and the steady activity in spring is reflective of the
growing surenoss of t
he familiarising eye.This person is not at all qualified to decide which
interpretation is correct but the real truth may lie in a
mixture of each, There is little doubt that observers were
rusty in January and February but the wild fluctuations
observed in that period nevertheless seem undeniable.
Variable length periods between those of the daily
fluctuations and those of the ultra-short may exist in OJ
287 as well. However, the ultra-short events clutter up
hourly curves to such an extent that it is difficult to tell
if the latter really exists. If and when the nature of the
very short variations is cleared up the feasibility of
recognizing hourly variations can be investigated,
I would like to thank Dr. Bryan Andrew and Mr. Rick
Lavery for their continuing guidance and encouragement in
this project. As well, many of the observations received
would never have been made if it were not for the eager
participation of Allen Miller and his 'Star Truk' !
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
The said Star Truk, as this is written, should be at
the General Assembly in Vancouver with Rob Dick, Jon
Buchanan, Ken and Allen, plus Rick Lavery whom they were
to pick up at Calgary or thereabouts. Mary Grey is known
to be there, too, and there should be several professionals
to represent the Centre.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
This was the last Council meeting under the Presidency
of Dr, Lloyd Higgs, prior to his departure for Penticton in
June. He had lined up a fine list of speakers for the fall
and winter, Mr. Hans Klinkenberg takes over as President,
Two filing cabinets for the use of the Centre have been
put in the care of Treasurer Wlochowicz. Anyone who has
accumulated a pile of Centre records can put them in more or
less permanent storage there.
Dr. Legg will be the Centre's representative on Nat­
ional Council for the balance of the year.
Council agreed to donate additional assistance to the
4 members driving to the General Assembly in the Van.LUNAR AND PLANETARY PHOTOGRAPHY - 4
Rolf Meier
In my last article I described how effective focal
ratios are calculated, and this will be our basis for deter­
mining the exposure times for the moon and the planets. As
the focal length is increased, and the image becomes larger,
it also becomes fainter and the exposure will have to be
longer. The image intensity is inversely proportional to
the square of the focal length (for a given objective dia­
meter) but we are not too concerned with the mathematics at
this point. The following, then, is a table, based on ex­
perience, giving the exposure times for the moon and planets
for various focal ratios. The numbers represent the recip­
rocals of the exposure times, given in seconds, for a film
with a speed of ASA 400. All other films will have times
inversely proportional to their ASA rating. For example,
a film rated at ASA 100 will require 4 times the exposure
of a film rated at ASA 400.
Focal Ratio
Jupiter Venus Mercury
If you wish, you can stop right here and just shoot
the planets using the given exposure times.
However, to
meet different circumstances, and to see some room for ex­
perimentation, read on.
First of all, note that I have given no times for Ura­
nus, Neptune, and Pluto. The latter can be only just men­
tioned, and that is that at 14th magnitude and no detectable
disc, exposures are in the order of minutes. The other twoare also faint, and have small discs which show no features
on the best photographs, The most useful photography that
can be done with these planets is of their moons, requiring
exposures of a minute or more. This may be expanded upon in
future articles.
Getting back to the Table, I want to make it perfectly
clear that what is given in the table is not the only ex­
posure that will produce a detailed image. I will briefly
try to express how some of the other variables affecting
exposure can be dealt with.
The Moon, for example, will require a variety of times,
the greatest factor affecting this being sun angle, The
given time is for average cratered terrain on the terminator
When the moon is full, and sunlight falls from directly
above the surface, the exposure is about 1⁄4 that given. The
darker lava-covered mare areas will require about 2 times
the exposure given. For capturing earthlight, with a two
or three day old moon, the exposure is about 1500 times
that given in the table. It can be seen that unless times
are to be too ridiculous, low focal ratios, less than f/ 8 ,
are best. The same can be said of the moon during a total
eclipse, though here the variation is great depending on
what degree the moon has penetrated the earth's shadow. It
will be about 4000 times the given exposure during a dark
The planets themselves are not subject to such a great
change, but it is worthwhile to take a series of exposures,
some over and some under-exposed. Several faint images,
when superimposed, will give greater contrast than one
single negative correctly exposed. This technique is very
useful and a lot of experimentation can be done here. When
positives, such as colour slides are superimposed, they
should naturally be over-exposed, so that the resulting
image is not too faint.
many black and white films, especially Tri-X, have a
wide latitude of exposure times. This means that exposures
can be off by several factors and still give an acceptable
image. Short exposures are often better than correct ones
when the air is turbulent or there is a lot of vibration in
the telescope mounting. This could also apply when a clock
drive is lacking. Images in motion as a result of these
influences can be "stopped", or at least slowed down by
using extraordinarily short exposures.The atmosphere's transparency can also influence expo­
sure time, I mention this because good transparency does
not really mean that there will be little turbulence, and
the latter factor is what decides the quality of planetary
seeing. In the summer, for instance, when the air is very
dense, heavy, and humid,a temperature inversion often re­
sults. The air is not in motion, but haziness is extreme.
While one may be discouraged from observing, the seeing
will be rock-steady. Exposure times will naturally have to
be longer to compensate for the poorer transparency of the
air, and a judgement can be made by the limiting stellar
magnitude near the same elevation as the planet. Don't be
fooled, however, by the moon and other objectionable lights,
which also reduce the limiting magnitude.
Now a word or so about the optical theory behind this
kind of photography and some of the physical properties of
the film that are involved. As is well known, the resol­
ving power of a telescope is determined by its objective
diameter, and is expressed as so many seconds of arc. We
have seen that as focal length increases, so does image
size. Thus it can be seen that a certain angular arc will
occupy a greater linear space at greater focal lengths.
We can express the resolving power, then, not only as an
angular separation, but as a number of lines per unit length
such as lines per millimeter. It will turn out that for a
certain focal ratio. the resolution when expressed in this
way is the same regardless of focal length or objective
diameter. This will be very useful, because films are
capable of a certain resolution themselves, and for great­
est effect these two should be matched in such a way that
the film resolves everything the optical system is capable
of producing. I could include much more information here
but this is best done in a separate detailed article.
I think this series has so far presented enough des­
cription to enable even the uninformed to take good pictures
and I have purposely avoided too much mathematics. In fu­
ture articles, more refinements and greater detail will be
brought out as we become more intensively involved with the
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
The 31⁄4-inch, f/15 guide scope for the Sixteen Inch has
arrived and been tried out. It is an excellent instrument.
We hope to have it permanently installed in the near future.
Meanwhile, Gordy Grummett is working away on a better gear.-14-
J. U. Gunter, M.D.
We amateur astronomers rank comets among the most fas­
cinating facets of our hobby, but scarcely any of us have
developed an interest in asteroids. And yet these units of
the solar system have many features in common. Dr. Tom
Gehrels, and other astronomers with a special interest in
both asteroids and comets, has presented evidence that some
asteroids may once have been comets. Over two dozen asteroids
have highly elliptical orbits of cometary type. Comets are
known to lose some of their substance with each perihelion
passage, and it is reasonable to assume that some eventually
lose all ability to react to the solar wind, and can no long­
er develop a coma and tail. For example, tiny Minor Planet
Icarus, only about a mile in diameter, may once have been
Comet Icarus. In its very elongated orbit, Icarus sweeps so
close to the sun that it probably develops a red hot glow,
and then reaches out to the frigid region beyond Mars.
Dr. Gehrels, of the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in
Tucson, Arizona, was honored last year by having Minor Planet
No. 1777 Gehrels named for him in recognition of his fine
work with the little planets. Always alert for possible
comets on his photographic plates, Dr. Gehrels now has dis­
covered a new comet. He spotted 16 th magnitude Comet Gehrels
(1972e) on March 16, 1972 in the region near Eta Virginis.
There are only a few people whose name designates both an
asteroid and a comet.
The contribution of amateur astronomers to our knowledge
of comets is well recognized. Most of the relatively bright
comets are now discovered by amateurs, who spend countless
hours searching for them. Only once or twice in a lifetime
do we have the privilege of enjoying a magnificent spectacle
like Comet Bennett (l.969i), first seen by an amateur. Other
recent amateur discoveries include Comet Honda ( 1968 c) and
Comet Tago-Sato-Kosaka (1969g). Many of us enjoyed tracking
these comets from hour to hour and from night to night,
noting their changing appearance and position against the
background of the stars,
Unfortunately the sky is usually poor in comets; but it
is always rich in asteroids, and interested amateurs can
observe several of them on any clear night. There is no
chance for an amateur to discover a new asteroid nowadays
because all that are accessible with our instruments were
found long ago - many by amateurs who spent years in thesearch. However, a real thrill awaits the amateur who
succeeds in locating a known asteroid in the vastness of
space, and in following its progress from night to night.
Observing asteroids is a great pastime, almost as much fun
as tracking comets.
For years Sky and Telescope has published charts of
some of the brighter asteroids. Modern Astronomy has a
column by this writer featuring an asteroid for each month
of the year, The sky charts enable the amateur to locate
and track each asteroid with ease. All of them can be seen
with a 6 -inch reflector, and some with a smaller instrument.
Interesting information is included for. each asteroid fea­
tured, and additional asteroid charts are available free on
In a recent column some of the rewards of observing
asteroids were mentioned, and the possible discovery of a
comet was at the top of the list. One would not be apt to
miss such an object if it happened to wander through a star
field with which the observer is thoroughly familiar.
Improvement of observing ability and development of detail­
ed knowledge of the constellations were among the other
benefits mentioned. The asteroids will prove to be richly
rewarding for amateurs who develop a genuine interest in
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
We are particularly happy to get the above article
from Dr. Gunter for Astronotes. Barry Matthews has raved
about him many times in his articles, and now has persuaded
Dr. Gunter to write this for us. Our sincere appreciation.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Washed out again.
Isabella Darin-Zanco
Star nights seem to be doomed.
Still, Barry Matthews put forth his best effort into
trying to make the basic astronomy course a complete success.
On behalf of the people who attended this course, and
myself, I'd like to say thank you, Barry Matthews, Ken
Hewitt-White, Allen Miller, Rob Dick, Stan Mott and any of
the others who assisted these people. During a very busy
schedule, they took the time and the effort to present an
informative and interesting little course for us.I really have appreciated all the people who assisted
me while I have been a member, living in Ottawa. I intend
to keep up my paid membership with the Ottawa Centre. It is
with great pleasure that I can say that it is the first time
that I have met so many nice people, all at one time.
I hope that I will be able to keep up this interest
while away in Germany. You have a great little group here.
I'm looking forward to Jean Knapp's stories about our sun.
Good writing, Jean.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
We like you, too, Isabella,
Good luck.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Our crack vehicle continues on its way to Planet X:
Tom Tothill
Red Schlossing hadn't made a telescope all week, and
was beginning to feel the need of an outlet for his restless
energy. Opportunity knocked when, in the course of dissec­
ting RED CHINA 2 (which had finally quit after broadcasting
the Hymn to Kao 6,485,293,885.4 times), the tape recorder
and transmitter came away in one piece still connected to
the solar panel.
After digesting the rest of the capsule, Schlossing
opened the outer door of the airlock and very carefully
manoevered the transmitter package into it. Actually it
was a case of manoeuvering the hole around the package.
Once it was safely in, he shut the outer door on the wires,
leaving the large solar panel tethered, and after pressuriz­
ing the airlock opened the inner door, disconnected the
wires, and brought the package inside. The wires were still
live, he noted, so the fault must lie in the package some­
Checking out the transmitter first, he could find no
fault in it, so he turned his attention to the tape recorder,
It was a Chinese copy of a Japanese copy of a Teethkit that
he had put together himself years before, and he was soon
happily tracing out the circuits while his subconscious
hummed a classic of his youths
A Teeth-kit, a Tath-kit
I've lotht my yellow Bath-kit."Clever, these Chinese," he murmured appreciatively,
noting the Mobius twist in the tape so that it played, right
on again when it finished, but he decided against telling
Grady Grunt about it. Might distract his attention from
his responsibilities.
He soon found the fault, and was soon listening to the
hymn, wincing a bit at the four-tone harmonizations
Ain go-na rai, no Mao, no Mao,
His Chinese was not equal to the task of translating,
but obviously he couldn't put this diatribe against the
wicked capitalists back on the air. If only they had let
him bring his cello, he could have given the world some­
thing decent to tune in to, but the entire ground organi­
zation had been adamant: "No cello. Period,"
Casting his eyes desperately around the capsule, they
kept coming back to that saw, taped to the knotty pine
panelling, and gradually a nefarious scheme began to form
in his mind. He swung into action.
With horsehair from the shoulder pads of his jacket,
and a piece of the camp bed frame, and resin from the back
of a board pried from the panelling, he soon had a perfectly
adequate bow. Taking the saw down and bending it against
the floor, he found he could produce any note at will, and
after half an hour's practice had even mastered the arts of
bowing and vibrato, the latter coming from a controlled
quiver of his saw hand. How he was ready for the master­
First, the pregnant pause. That was no problem at all.
Next, the drum roll, performed on the knotty pine panelling
with his karate palms in rapid alternation. He recorded
that and listened to it with satisfaction. Now for the
tubas to set the bass and the timing. Using certain kinds
of paper that were available and his comb, and recording
at double speed, he put that on the tape three times over
to get the right massive effect. The piccolos were then
whistled in a,t half speed, followed by the rest of the
woodwinds and the brass in the intermediate parts. Having
thus dealt with the peripherals, he was ready for the
strings, all of which were done with the saw at appropriate
speeds, and he really let himself go, especially in thecello parts.
When the orchestration was finished he played it back
several times, listening critically and finally adding a
touch here, a touch there until he judged it perfect,
"Now for the words," he thought, clearing his throat
and humming a scale or two. He switched to 'record' again,
waited for the intro to finish, and assumed his best
da," he sang, "Our
"Let 'em guess who." he muttered darkly, putting the
package back in the airlock. "And how." he added, connec­
ting the wires back and making sure that it was running.
"If I don't make it back," he thought happily, closing the
inner door and de-pressurizing the airlock, "This could
become one of the great mysteries of future archaeology!"
As he opened the outer door and backed away, however, a more
sombre thought struck him.
"I suppose Hotpill will write one of his silly editor­
ials about this," he thought sadly; a forecast that proved
one hundred percent accurate;
"The sostenuto in the obbligato section of the first
violoncellos," it observed loftily, "Leaves a good deal to
be desired."
"The tympani," wrote Lorgnetta Bristle in the 'Ottawa
Dissident', scathingly, "Is little better than the rever­
beration of knotty pine panelling,"
But to the Chinese, tuning in on the only wavelength
they were allowed to listen to, it became the hit of the
decade. What glorious mod harmonies! What rich intonation!
And even if the words were in some obscure dialect of the
Tibetan steppes, who could deny that their message of pro­
letarian solidarity came ringing through?
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Astronotes will not be published in July or August.
Deadline for the September issue will be August 25.