Download PDF version:
IS S N 0 0 4 8 -8 682
The Newsletter Magazine of the Ottawa Centre of the RASC
Vol. 19, No. 2 $2.00 a year February, 1980
Editor. ... Rolf Meier...... 77 Meadowlands Dr.W.. .224-1200
Addresses... Jacqui Tapping...61 Oval Dr., Aylmer...684-1186
Circulation...Barry Matthews...2237 Iris St....... ..225-6600
A WORD OF WARNING Pierre Lemay
In the past sevaral months, some members have been
taking it upon themselves to "repair” or "rebuild" instruments and equipment at IRO. This practice must stop
If any work is to be done on equipment at the observatory, be it repairing, rebuilding, or for that matter
borrowing or taking home some of the equpment at IRO, permission must first be obtained from the IRO maintenance
and operations committee. That committee is formed of the
Pierre Lemay 777-4965
Ken Tapping 684-1186
Robin Molson 225-3082
If you wish to do any work on equipment at the observatory, or if something breaks or stops functioning,
one of these three people must first be contacted before
anything is done to repair the broken part. The same goes
for taking anything home that belongs to the observatory.
Failure to do so will result in some very serious consequences to the person or persons at fault.
And I would like to remind the keyholders that it is
their responsibility to make very, very sure that nonkeyholders do not abuse or "play" with the equipment at
IRO. It is the keyholder's duty to tell these people to
take their hands off our equipment because it is not a
toy! If such a situation does occur, we would like to
know about it.
# # # # # # # #OBSERVER'S GROUP MATING - JANUARY 4 , 1980
Renee Meyer and Mary Geekie
Acting Chairman Brian Burke opened the first meeting
of the decade at 8:18 pm with 62 people in attendance, 29%
of whom were non-members. He informed the group of various
upcoming events; an open council meeting on February 20,
and a talk by T. Clarke on February 4. At the coordinator
meeting it was decided that talks by those other than the
coordinators would be advantageous to the group. More
star nights and observations, both photos and drawings,
would also be beneficial to the observers. Brian also
discussed the reissuing of the Beginner's Package; a package designed to help the beginning observer get started
on the right trail (star trail tee-hee). IRO update: the
road to IRQ is now snow-free; the locks will be changed;
16 keys (IRO sixteen tee-hee) will be available at $25
apiece (but who wants just a piece? tee-hee).
Solar coordinator Bill Donaldson delivered a talk
dealing with his solar observations of the past month.
The sunspots are changing rapidly and the axis of the sun
is shifting. He explained how sunspot classifications
from A to F describe stages in sunspot development. Bill
also aquainted the group with various terms relating to
the sun, such as umbras, faculae, penumbras, pores, filaments, and granulation. This year, in solar cycle 21,
Bill concluded that there are just under 100 sunspots on
average. This number, however, taken from the Cambridge
Encyclopedia, differs from that in the Observer's Handbook. On January 3, Bill observed 53 sunspots, while on
the 4th, this number jumped to 89. Bill found the
December average to be 26.5 sunspots.
Brian Burke informed the group that RASC pins are
available from librarian Stan Mott. Brian also commented
that certain Handbooks have either an abundance or lack
of binding glue.
George Park displayed his first attempt at celestial
photography with a 35-year-old 35-mm camera. Among the
several types of slides shown were auroral, constellations,
and the planetary configruation.
Brian Burke commented on the commercial mounting of
astrophotography slides. It was suggested that the first
slide in a roll of film should be of terrestrial origin
in order to set a precedent for the whole roll.
Dave Fedosiewich, comet coordinator, informed thegroup of the December 25 discovery of a comet by Bradfield and Candy. The comet, which was named Comet
Bradfield-Candy 1979l, is of 5th magnitude and not yet
observable from Ottawa. Dave also displayed various
slides depicting the Pleiades, Orion, the Rosette
Nebula, Barnard's Loop, and IRO.
Deep Sky and Astrophotography coordinator Rolf
Meier proceeded with his talk. He gave handouts to
everyone, dealing with the astrophotography program for
1980. Each month is assigned to a different topic in
the field of astrophotography. January's subject was
star trails. Rolf demonstrated this by photographing
a light in the room. Rolf also presented various slides
depicting the meteor coffins at Quiet Site. Rolf wrapped
up his talk with slides of star trails and various
Following Rolf, lunar and planetary coordinator
Brian Burke gave the planet review. Mars, Saturn,
Regulus, and Jupiter could be seen in the same field
of view on January 16. Mars will come to opposition on
February 25. On February 24, Jupiter will be in
opposition, and Saturn will do the same in March. The
north polar cap of Mars is tilted towards the earth.
Venus is well-placed for observing in 1980 as it is now
up for a few hours after sunset.
Brian also related to the group the success of the
grazing occultation expedition to Algonquin Park on
December 30. The expected graze line was too far north,
and as a result, only one team observed an actual disappearance and reappearance. It was suggested that the
stations be placed further apart, 500 m as opposed to the
200 m, and that higher power telescopes would be more useful. Another graze expedition is planned for the mulitoccultation event on January 26/27. Perhaps Murphy's
Law won't interfere with the CHU radios this time.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:39 pm.
# # # # # # # # #
OTTAWA CENTRE COUNCIL MEETING Romeo Wlochowicz
The new council, elected at the Annual Dinner Meeting
of November 6, met on December 12, 1979. Following the
customary routine of dealing with the day-to-day operations
of the Centre, namely correspondence, financial status,planning of meetings, and reviewing the activities of established groups, we moved on to topics of particular interest for this meeting. The most important one was the
selection of individuals to serve on the various committees
and to be responsible or act as coordinators for the tasks
that council deems necessary and beneficial for the efficient operation of the Centre. The list of individuals
selected, as well as that of members of council, have been
published in the January issue of Astronotes for the benefit of all members. The annual meeting was reviewed by the
Dinner Committee, which made suggestions and recommendations in a written report. Suggestions from the membership are welcomed and should be forwarded to the committee before June, when a decision will be made whether or
not to hold this year's annual meeting at the R.A. To
save on mailing costs, announcements of Centre meetings
will be included in Astronotes when possible. Centre pins
are now available for purchasing at $1 each. Council
accepted the recommendations of the Observatory Committee
concerning the obligations and regulations applying to
users of the Indian River Observatory. A committee was
formed of R. Dick, B.L. Matthews, R. Molson, and R.
Wlochowicz to present at the next council meeting proposals for future activities and their implications on
finances. The next council meeting will be held at 100
Sussex Drive, room 1017, Februaru 20, 7 pm. Observers are
welcome. Observers wishing to have council consider particular items of business must communicate their intentions
to R. Wlochowicz (822-1799) or Ken Tapping (684-1186) no
later than February 13.
# # # # # # # # #
CHAIRMAN'S REVIEW OF 1979 Robert Dick
The Chairman of the Observer's Group is called upon,
by tradition, to remark on his year as head of the group.
These remarks should appear in Astronotes soon after the
year is out. These remarks should include a pat on the
back for veteran observers, encouragement to novice observers, and congratulations to award winners of the past
year, and that is what I shall do.
A major problem in previous years has been to get
people to talk at meetings. The same faces kept appearing
before the Observer's Group month after month. Coordinators pleaded for observations but observations were seldom passed on, either to the coordinators or to the audience. Those were the days of the "Big Move", cheap gas,
and clear skies. Nov the big move is complete, the cost
of gas is dear, and during the past year we have had some
poor skies. The result is a surge in activity!
More members are coming forth to give talks, and although the skies have not been very kind to us there have
been several detailed reports of observations and demonstrations.
As Chairman I found it reassuring to see coordinators
wearing several different hats. Dave Fedosiewich has reported observations he has made in almost all fields. I
was also pleased to see the rise of the non-coordinators.
New and veteran members have asked for time at meetings.
This time is gladly given but a few days notice would be
appreciated. These private projects are the life blood of
the Observer's Group and maintains the Ottawa Centre as one
of the most active groups in North America.
Individual projects will again be encouraged. If you
are short on ideas but long on enthusiasm then talk to the
coordinators. If, however, you are not short on ideas,
then talk to the Observer's Group. As examples, we had
reports on various aspects of the solar eclipse, variable
star observations, instrumentation (hardware and software),
as well as tours and trips to places of astronomical interest. During this past year the Ottawa Centre has been
successful at two of these annual events, the General
Assembly of the RASC, held last year in London, Ontario,
and Stellafane, the amateur telescope maker's convention
in Springfield, Vermont.
Four projects from Ottawa won awards at the General
Assembly. Frank Roy won two awards for his radio telescope display and his data encoder/decoder device. Doug
Welch and myself won an award for a meteor statistics
project. Rolf Meier won the prestigious Chant Medal for
his highly successful comet search project.
During the second convention of the summer, Stellafane, Cuda, Hunt, and McArthur entered their 10-inch
Newtonian reflector and won first prize in the junior
class. Dave Fedosiewich took second place with his 8-inch
Newtonian. Dave also won the Porter youth award, and Fred
Lossing took the third award in the special category for
his solar flux monitor.
It has been a fine year and one which 1980 mustfollow. I hope the lineup of speakers at the meetings
continues. If you have an interesting project, let's
hear about it. The Observer's Group meetings should reflect your activities as well as the coordinators'.
# # # # # # # # #
NOTICE TO KEYHOLDERS Pierre Lemay
Due to the fact that some keys to the Indian River
Observatory facility have either been lost or broken, or
we have lost track of some of the keys, it has been decided to replace the lock on the observatory.
When North Mountain Observatory was opened, 25 keys
were made for the use of the members. Because we want a
better control on who gets a key, I have decided to issue
only 17 keys (one belongs to council so 16 will be available to members).
The lock will be changed on Thursday, January 31, and
the new keys will be available at the February Observer's
Group meeting. After that time you will be able to get the
keys from me. If you wish to have more information, please
contact me at 777-4965.
# # # # # # # # #
February 4: Lecture; Dr. T. Allen Clarke; "Taking the
February 20: Council meeting, all members welcome;
7 pm, room 1017, 100 Sussex Drive (NRC)
March 7: Observer's Group meeting; 8 pm, room 3001,
100 Sussex Drive
March 13: Lecture; Dr. A.E. Douglas, "Astronomy and
Molecules"; 8:15 pm, auditorium, 100 Sussex Drive
April 17: Dr. Paul Feldman; "The Once and Future Star"
# # # # # # # # #A REPORT ON THE GRAZING OCCULTATION OF ALDEBARAN WHICH
OCCURED ON DECEMBER 30, 1979
Plans for this graze began more than a month before
December 30 with the plotting of the graze line onto a
topographic map. The location chosen was on a road just
north of the Algonquin Radio Observatory. Two days before
the graze, Rolf Meier and I visited the site and found the
location a good one. We then put stakes into the ground
at 200-meter intervals using the odometer in Rolf's van as
the measuring instrument. One stake was placed at the
predicted graze line and six north and south of the line.
Therefore, there were 13 stations spread out over 2.4 km
with stake 7 being the predicted graze line.
After my talk at the December Observer's Group meeting,
five members expressed interest in the graze, but by the
day of the graze there was a total of 16 of us! We all met
at the Carllngwood Shopping Centre on Sunday morning and
shortly after 11 am the graze expedition team was heading
off for ARO. The weather situation was a tricky one because in Ottawa it was clear but a phone call to ARO
revealed that it was overcast in Algonquin Park. However,
by the time we reached ARO at 14:30 it was completely
clear! At ARO we were met by Mr. Ross Austin who was kind
enough to give us a tour of the facilities, which included
a trip to the radio telescope and a visit to the control
room. Then, with an hour and a half to go before the
graze, we headed out to the site.
We gathered at station 1 and from there the members
moved to their assigned stations. Since some people
teamed up with others, 9 of the 13 stations had an observer. Most observers were set up and watching the
closing gap between the moon's northern limb and the star
Aldebaran about half an hour before the predicted 17:32
EST graze. However, the usual equipment malfunctions
began to occur. The CHU time signal faded from many receivers, telescope mounts became inoperative, and the
telescope I was using refused to focus. I quickly borrowed a pair of binoculars but found that a 93% lit moon
was very difficult to observe with 7 x 50 binoculars.
All observers waited in anticipation as the lunar
limb crept closer to Aldebaran. Conditions for this graze
were ideal; the temperature was pleasant, the air was
calm, the sky was clear, and the moon was well above the
trees, but...the graze line was too far north! This soonbecame apparent as many members of the team screamed out
that 4-letter word that all lunar graze observers do not
like to hear...Miss!
So we all pulled up stakes and rendezvoused at
station 1. Every station reported a miss until station 1.
At this station, Dave Penchuk, working with Jim Hayes,
observed a 2.6-second disappearance. Dave and Jim were
originally at station 2 but decided to move to 1 because
they thought some trees might cause interference. Their
geographic location ant the time of the event is given
Finally, a number of things were learned on this
graze expedition. There is clearly a need for a dependable CHU receiver not costing a small fortune. Longer
focal length instruments or higher power is required,
especially with the moon as bright as it was for this
graze. A power in the 80 to 100 range should be sufficient to dim the moon enough. The separation of the
stations should be increased to 500 meters when there is
a small number of observers. This graze expedition can
be considered a successful one since one station did observe an event and a lot was learned for future grazes.
Last, but not least, I would like to thank Ken
Tapping for arranging a tour of IRO, and to Ross Austin
for giving us the tour. I also would like to thank
Rolf Meier for driving the 480-km round trip twice in
3 days and for making the stakes.
station 7 : long. 78° 05' 02” W lat. 45° 59' 20" N
(on line) elevation 245 m
No events observed by observer Rob McCallum.
station 1: long. 78° 04' 45" W lat. 45° 58' 44” N
elevation 245 m
disappearance: 22h 32m 19.3s UT
reappearance: 22h 32m 21.9s UT
Observer Dave Penchuk assisted by Jim Hayes used a
tape recorder and CHU time signal to record the event.
All times include a subtraction of ½ second for
reaction time. An 0.8% error in recording speed has also
been accounted for. Analysis of tape was done using a
stopwatch. The map used was the 1:50,000 scale map
31E/16 Lake Lavieille.EDMUND SCIENTIFIC ANNOUNCES AWARD
Edmund Scientific has inaugurated an annual astronomy award. The objective is to recognize "a significant
contribution to the field of amateur astronomy in conjunction with National Astronomy Day."
It will be a group award (not individual) and all organized astronomical societies in the United States and
Canada are eligible to enter.
Besides a suitably-engraved plaque, a $500 cash
award or a $750 Edmund gift certificate will be presented
to the winning organization.
Jundging will be based on the diversification of a
program especially designed by each society for National
Astronomy Day. Independent judges (all astronomers) will
consider the size of the group's membership in making
Edmund's First Annual Astronomy Award will be presented during the Astronomical League's annual meeting (July
3-6) at Dallas, Texas.
Contest entry forms can be obtained by writing to the
Marketing Division, Edmund Scientific, 101 East Gloucester
Pike, Barrington, New Jersey 08007.
Entries must be postmarked on or before May 20, 1980.
THE PLANETS IN FEBRUARY Brian Burke
This month two of the major planets come to opposition within 12 hours of each other. Jupiter is at opposition on the 24th and Mars on the 25th. Although this
is not a favourable opposition of Mars, its north pole
is tipped toward the earth and should be visible in
Mercury will reach greatest elongation east on the
19th when it will be 17 degrees above the western horizon
at sunset. Also on the 19th, Mercury, Venus and the moon
will form an interesting configuration.
Saturn, which comes to opposition next month, will
also be visible all night.
# # # # # # # # #ASTROTATIONS Ken Webb
Both star maps below show the same area of the sky,
measuring 2 hours of RA by 24. degrees of Dec. Each map
shows half of the first, second, and third magnitude stars
in that region. The first map is oriented with north at
the top. The second map has been rotated 90°, 180°, 270°,
or 0°. Can you orient this second map correctly, and
combine the two maps to find the hidden but familiar star
(from Norton's Star Atlas, 1973)
Answer next month.THE COMET REPORT Dave Fedosiewich
I'm sure we all got real nice Christmas presents on
the morning of December 25. But for Bill Bradfield, his
biggest present was not of this world. Bradfield, an
Australian amateur and well-known comet hunter (this is
his 10th discovery), found a rather bright comet at RA
16h 19.0m, Dec 35° 20'S. The comet is presently a southern
hemisphere object at magnitude 5, and is expected to reach
magnitude 4.7 around the middle of January (the time of
this writing) when it will swing into a more favourable
position for northern hemisphere observers and it may be
visible from Ottawa in mid-February. More to come at the
February Observer's Group meeting on Comet Bradfield,
Periodic Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 2 (1979k) has
been recovered by G. Schwartz on exposures with the 1.5-
meter reflector at Harvard College Observatory's Agassiz
Station. The comet is moving through Virgo and Bootes at
magnitude 20. Anybody with a 32-inch or larger scope is
requested to report observations to me before the next
It's Schwassmann-Wachmann 1 time again! This unusual
comet, which moves around the sun in a nearly circular
15-year orbit, is normally about magnitude 18, but
brightens to Mv 12 or so at irregular intervals. It was
mentioned last in the April, 1979 issue of Astronotes.
The comet is now emerging from the sun's glare in the
morning sky and should be visible until late May or early
June in the evening sky.
The first report of activity from this comet was on
October 31.40 by John Bortle of Stormville, New York. On
that evening, he spotted the object at the predicted
position and estimated its magnitude as about 12.7 at
88 power with his 32-cm reflector. Unfortunately, moonlight prevented further observations. The only other
report of an outburst, possibly the end of the former,
was reported by C.Y. Shao for December 19 and he estimated
the magnitude at about 15.
During January, Schwassmann-Wachmann 1 will be wellplaced for monitoring new outbursts, a useful project for
the 16-inch scope at the Indian River Observatory.
Moving very slowly in Cancer, the comet traverses the field
of the variable star SY Cancri late in January, so suitable comparison stars will be available should an outburst
occur.The following is an ephemerls for Schwassmann-Wachmann 1 :
Date RA Dec Mag
17° 28' N
For future dates, one needs only plot these positions
on an atlas and continue the line. Please let me know if
you're interested. My number is 731-7583.
THE CLARITY OF WINTER SKIES Rolf Meier
People sometimes say to me that we astronomers must
see very well in the winter, with the air being so much
clearer than it is in the summer. Is this really true?
I don't think so, although there are a few conditions
which may make it appear as though this is the case.
First of all, we don't get as many warm, humid air
masses from the southern states during the wintertime. In
the summer, these air masses are responsible for our hot,
humid days when the air appears very hazy. Polar air
masses occur more frequently in the winter, although they
create some very clear summer skies after the passing of
a cold front. In the winter, very cold polar air masses
can give rise to the formation of ice crystals in the air,
which can also scatter light as much as water droplets.
Second, winter nights are longer than summer nights.
As a result, people see stars more frequently. In the
summer it may not get very dark until 10 o' clock or so,
giving only a few hours during which people will see
Third, there is the psychological effect of bright
winter stars (Orion, Gemini, Taurus, etc) twinkling in a
cold, crisp sky. This gives the impression that the air
is more transparent.
There are two other minor points related to this.
First, winter observing is more uncomfortab le, and in
view of this some people are actually surprised thatsome of us amateurs actually spend time outside in the
cold to stand around and do what we do. The other point
has to do with photography. That is that reciprocity
failure may actually be reduced somewhat on the very
coldest of winter nights, and that means more stars will
show for a given exposure time, or alternatively, a shorter
exposure time is required to capture the same number of
# # # # # # # # #
10 YEARS AGO IN ASTRONOTES
From the February, 1970 issue: "The first meeting of the
decade had approximately 36 people in attendance, with
Dr. Lossing in the chair.
Mr. Tothill announced the selection of Ken HewittWhite as Observer of the Year....
...After summing up and handing over to the new Chairman
Rick Lavery, Dr. Lossing explained the Foucault and Ronchi
tests which were demonstrated on the 16-inch mirror after
# # # # # # # # #
FEBRUARY ASTEROID - FORTUNA Dave Fedosiewich
On the evening of August 22, 1852, an English astronomer, John Russell Hind (1823-1873), discovered the 19th
asteroid. To the honour of amateur George Bishop (1785-
1861), at whose private observatory this planet was
found, Hind named his sixth asteroid discovery for the
ancient goddess of fortune, dispenser of riches and
poverty, pleasure and misfortune.
At this time, 19 Fortuna is moving through Leo at a
rate of 1 degree in about 5 days. Although this asteroid
is quite large (137 miles), its capacity to reflect only
3,2% of the sun's light has limited it to the range of a
4½-inch telescope, at a magnitude of 10.6. Opposition
will be on February 20. If you observe Fortuna, and
would like to find more asteroids, give me a call and I'll
supply you with more charts. Good luck in finding Fortuna,
or the other way around!
# # # # # # #ASTRO NOTES
MS. ROSEMARY FREEMAM CAST
THE ROYAL ASTRON. SOC. OF CAN.
124 MERTON STREET
TORONTO, ONTARIO M4S 2Z2
First Class Premiere class