AstroNotes 1974 December Vol: 13 issue 10



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Volume .Issue.
Vol. 13, No. 1 $2.00 a year January, 1974
Editor.... ...Rolf Meier...77 Meadowlands Dr. W ., K2G 2R9
Addresses.... Mary Grey....Dominion Observatory, 994-5474
Circulation...Ted Bean 399 McLeod Street, K2P 1A5
At the time of this writing, the great
Comet Kohoutek (Ko'-hoe-tek) has been seen and
has once again disappeared into the morning
twilight. It has been very disappointing that
it has not as yet been seen by the naked eye,
despite ideal conditions. The comet is much
fainter than predicted, and so far it has not
even matched Bennett's brilliance in 1970.
The public has been deceived, and they will
not probably be treated to the phenomenon of the
century. It may be the flop of the century.
But, not to worry. We can tell the general public
that they were looking in the wrong place
or the wrong time, if they report that they
can't see it.
Things may still change. The comet will be
more favourably placed for viewing in the evening
sky, and the tail will in any case be longer.
The comet may indeed be much brighter after perihelion,
if its close passage to the sun causes
structural changes.
On the other hand, we may be looking at an
object which is in reality very rocky, with
some cometary material on the outside. Thus,
at great distances it would behave like a large
comet, and create erratic predictions.
Consider the amazing circumstances surrounding
the discovery of the comet. Kohoutek was
actually looking for asteroids, which he believed
to be the remnants of the disintegrated Biela's
comet. In the same field where the asteroids
were expected to be, he found not one, but two
comets, 1973e and 1973f, eight days apart!
OBSERVERS GROUP MEETING Ted Bean opened the l- asDtE Cm.e7 eting Coaft hyt heH all
year with the announcement that centre newsletters
such as Stardust, Skyward, and Nova are
being received. If you are not regularly getting
Astronotes, let him know.
A number of coming events were mentioned by
Karl Poirier, including the lunar eclipse on
Dec. 9, Saturn occultation on Dec. 10, and the
solar eclipse on Dec. 24. He also talked of
progress at the Quiet Site. A new communication
panel has been installed in the van.
Slides of the Nov. 10 transit of Mercury
were shown by Doug W elch and yours truly. Doug
also talked on his pet interest, asteroids, and
offered coordinates to those interested.
Have you seen Comet Kohoutek yet? Rolf
Meier showed a number of prints to illustrate
its development. He appeared on CBC's "This Day"
on Dec. 21, when he discussed the prospects for
this comet. Besides comet photography, he has
just finished construction of a special base
for one of the Centre's meteor cameras, and.
hopes to get an efficient baseline system working
Still on meteors, Chris Martin gave a few
words on the recent showers observed - and not
observed. Keep your fingers crossed that
Murphy will blow away with the next blizzard!
If it is clear though, and you need a ride, give
our info centre a call at 733-1931.
New faces continue to appear. Ian Ross, a
teacher at Algonquin College, showed a very nice
print of the June 30 solar eclipse, taken on the
shores of Lake Rudolf. He also had some shots
of the transit, taken with a 3 1/2-inch Questar.
Thanks for some interesting photos!
Lastly, elections were held. The results
are as follows:
Chairman......... Ted Bean
Vice-Chairman....Karl Poirier
Recorder...... ...Holly Allan
Coordinators will be appointed by these
three people as they see fit.
Well at last our program has gotten off the
ground and the first two of perhaps a zillionand-
a-half tests has been cataloged. Ilford's
HP4 and Agfa's Agfapan 400 were compared. While
the major details of the tests are being withheld
until some sort of final report is ready, suffice
it to say that a test target was photographed under
identical conditions and the pictures also
printed under identical conditions. Also the
star field around Mars was recorded on both films,
with identical exposures, etc.
The results of this first test indicate that
some valid conclusions can be made. Ilford
claims that their emulsions are very thin and
would result in less back-scattering of light.
This was evident on the photographs of Mars. The
star trail pictures show Mars to be a large blob
of equal size on both films. However, the Ilford
print does not exhibit the bright ring around
the planet to the same extent which the Agfa
print does. In fact, in comparison to the Agfa
print, this ring simply does not exist on the
Ilford print. It would appear that extensive
testing will have to be performed to determine
which is the better film for astronomical prints.
The test target revealed that even though
the Ilford film was pushed to ASA 650 in Microphen,
it had substantially better (smaller)
grain size than the Agfa film. Further types of
developers will be used on the Agfapan in the
hopes of reducing its grain size. The Agfa film
had by far the better contrast of the two. This
was verified on the test target and the Mars
photograph as well. The next step is to push
the Agfa film to a higher speed and leave the
Ilford film at its normal ASA 400. After that,
these films will be further compared to Tri-x.
§ § § § § § § § §
Don't forget about the annual dinner
meeting, to be held on January 15 in the RA
C entre.
As was mentioned in previous articles,"the
solar system is the training ground for the
Universe". You will recall that I am an advocate
of the use of the pen and paper in recording
the ever-changing moon. These techniques
can be as easily applied to the planets.
To record the alterations in the inner and
outer planets you need nothing more expensive
than paper, pencil, and an eraser. The time
taken to record the planets is never wasted, for
every drawing made at the telescope has trained
your eye to see. To the observer on earth, the
planets are easily divided in two groups: Mercury,
Venus, and my beloved moon (inferior); and
of course the remaining planets are the superior
I intend to first discuss our inferior
friends, Venus and Mercury, as these I feel are
by far the hardest and require the utmost discipline
Venus is the most difficult of all planets
to observe and it is sad that this bright
shining gem is easily drawn. What appears to
be a near perfect drawing when shown to the
seasoned observer is shreaded with overly kind
words. Even perhaps of losing these old and
young beginning observers never to return to
the astronomical community.
The only thing that appears to have to be
done is to prepare a 2-inch blank with the
phases drawn in. Remember that you cannot see
the pole, so this does not have to be shown.
First you record the phase ana then by the
skillful recording of cloud formations. The
most important thing to remember is record only
what you are sure of. You cannot put down on
the paper the things your mind things you see.
Note the positions of the cusps, limb brightenning,
and cusp caps.
Remember, you are your own worst judge.
I t was Boirier who, having re-activated the
Dish1 , was the first to regain contact with
Astronotes is privileged to be able to record
verbatim for posterity the epoch-making
conversation that ensued:
"Hi, Red."
"Hi, Paarl."
Schlossing had had one anxious day keeping
watch for the Great Mirror in the Sky, but
didn't see it and obediently made his One-eighty
when the System told him to. Since then he had
been decelerating back towards Planet Earth and
was currently threading his way through the asteroids,
with AVOID giving him a jolt now and
again, and big black things going by his window
like an inverse camera shutter.
Pretty soon Bedlington Tean came on the
line via the Dish, with questions about his fuel
level and other technical matters, and the entire
Ground Organization was set in motion once
again. He repeatedly tried to contact Grady
Grunt by radio, but was still too far out for
the hams to pick him up. The photographers on
the Super Sixteen tried long exposures on his
part of the sky but his exhaust - by now practically
down to "idle" - was far too faint to
"The System isn't programmed for Re-entry,
Red," Tean explained, "We couldn't be sure of
exact timing and fuel level. But you look in
good shape to come on in without re-fuelling."
"Great!", said Schlossing, "I wasn't looking
forward to weightlessness."
"Oh, you'll have to have some of that.
We've got to incline your orbit for splashdown.
Besides, we've got to locate you and time you
to know when splash will occur."
"Where is splash, anyway?"
"Lake Ontario. The Minister of Pollution
won't let us bring you in dry."
1and became a father in the process?
"I'm dry all right. My tongue's hanging
out. Who says I am polluted?"
But there was no reply.
§ § § § § § § § §
Barry Matthews still needs eyepieces for
the Japanese size scopes. If you have any,
please call him at 829-7237.
§ § § § § § § § §
If you are observant, you will notice
that this issue of Astronotes seems to be different.
There are two reasons for this. First
of all, the type is different because a different
typewriter was used. Secondly, it is rather
shorter than usual. No satisfactory reason has
been found for this so far.
§ § § § § § § §
Date RA Dec Elongation
Jan. 3 19h57m 17°29m S 15.7°
4 20 8 16 42 17.7
6 20 33 15 5 21.7
8 20 56 13 24 25.6
10 21 20 11 37 29.6
12 21 43 9 44 33.6
14 22 6 7 47 37.5
16 22 29 5 49 41.4
18 22 51 3 51 45.1
20 23 12 1 56 48.6
23 23 41 0 46 N 53.4
26 00 08 3 13 57.4
29 00 32 5 23 60.8
Feb. 1 00 54 7 15 63.4
4 1 13 8 52 65.5
§ § § § § § § §
-max. tail
-comet closest
to earth
Articles for the February issue of Astro-
Notes are due by January 18.
Ms. Rosemary Freeman
National Secretary
The Royal Astronomical
Toronto 130, Ontario.