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A s t r o n o t e s l s s n 0 0 4 B - 8 6 B 2
The Newsletter Magazine of the Ottawa Centre of the RASC
Vol. 19, No. 4 $2.00 a year April, 1980
Editor...... Rolf Meier.. 77 Meadowlands Dr.W...224-1200
Addresses... Jacqui Tapping... 61 Oval Dr., Aylmer...684-1186
Circulation...Barry Mattnews...2237 Iris St..........225-6600
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
On March 15, eleven of us gathered at IRO for stargazing. I am a new member and so was looking forward to
seeing the telescope, site and the stars, but also to meet
the other members.
Rob Dick kindly gave me a lift there and by the time we
arrived, I was well briefed on the IRO 's history. Doug
George showed me the Orion Nebula; my first sight through a
telescope of that size. Frank Roy was making hot chocolate
for everyone, and generous Frank ended up with none.
The sky was cloudless but unfortunately there was a
gusting wind which hindered the viewing of the planets. It
also made it biting cold. However, around 12 o'clock the
wind died down making it quite pleasant.
I was greatly impressed with the Indian River Observatory. In particular it was the helpfulness and the warm
welcome I received that impressed me the most.
131 Cameron Avenue
# # # # # # # # #
OBSERVER'S GROUP MEETING - MARCH 7
Renee Meyer and Mary Geekie
Chairman Robert Dick opened the March meeting at 8:09
pm. Sixty-seven people attended the meeting, 31% of whom
Pierre Lemay proceeded with the "IRO update". The refrigerator has been removed from the site. Pierre reminded the group that the 16-inch is not to be used toobserve the sun until further notice. Keys are still
available for IRO .
Brian burke informed the group that the star nignt
theme for March is the planets.
The month's theme talk on the Kenya expedition to observe the solar eclipse was delivered by Pat Brewer. Pat's
expedition, consisting of several Toronto Centre members
and others, was organized by a travel agency. His group of
28 people based their operations from Nairobi and eventually set up their equipment on a small runway near Vol.
A great hazard was that dust would get into their equipment. Pat's group at Voi was one of the few groups to see
the eclipse clearly at 11:22 on February 22. The altitude
of the sun was 70° and Pat observed Mercury during the
eclipse. An interlude of amusing African animal stones
followed. Among the interesting observations were African
buffalo, exotic birds, leaping leopards, elephants, the
Magellanic Clouds, giraffes, Alpha and Beta Centauri, Mt.
Kilimanjaro, tourist-trapping natives, and the Crux. Pat's
group vividly observed shadow bands during the eclipse on
the white runway lettering. They were seen both before and
after totality with a spacing of about one inch. Thank-you
Pat Brewer for a most interesting and detailed talk.
Bill Donaldson proceeded with his monthly report on
his solar observations. February's peak was 113 spots on
the 5th, with a monthly average of 52 spots, mostly class F.
Bill, along with Rob Dick, observed a white spot on February
11. Bill also reviewed several ways to observe the sun.
He strongly recommended that eyepiece type filters be
thrown out, as the crack. The other methods discussed
were the Solar Screen, and the safe and easy projection
Rob Dick supplemented Bill's review with an idiotproof way of constructing a solar screen and commented
that cemented eyepieces tend to crack with the projection
Dave Fedosiewich reported to the group that there is
an article dealing with the most recent Comet Bradfield
in the March issue of Sky And Telescope. Comet Bradfield
should be near the Pleiades soon and presently is at
magnitude 10. A 10-minute exposure of Comet Bradfield
taken by Doug George was displayed.
Rolf Meier proceeded with his talk on aurora and
metoer photography. For photographing meteors, Rolf
recommends using a strobe—like sheet—metal chopper in front
of the camera. This breaks up the meteor trail. As aresult, one can determine the velocity of the meteor. The
best time to observe meteors is during the Perseids, as
bright meteors are abundant then and the weather is just
fine. Rolf cautioned however that one must beware of revolving metal choppers as they have a tendancy to slice up
hands. Two camera stations are needed with the chopper
method to determine the altitude of the meteor. To photograph aurora, Rolf suggested taking a photograph every 10
seconds to produce a movie effect when shown in succession.
Aurora is generally more abundant in April and September.
Rolf also displayed a photo album of galaxies taken in his
search for supernovae.
Sharon Godkin displayed several astral slides taken
December 13 through to January 9 depicting Saturn, Jupiter,
Brian Burke was next with the "Planet Review". Saturn
comes to opposition by the middle of March and its rings
will be seen edge-on on the 13th and 14th. Venus is approaching dichotomy, the 50% illumination phase, but the exact
date was not given. However, on April 5, Venus will be
51% illuminated. Venus can be observed during the day, as
contrast is lover and a better image results.
Barry Matthews informed the group that all notices
for Centre meetings will be placed in Astronotes.
Pierre Lemay informed the group that Sky and Telescope
has published an article dealing with Saturn and its
satellites similar the Jupiter and its satellites in the
The group was also informed of the coming astronomical
convention at Carleton's Unicentre. Carl Sagan will deliver
a lecture entitled "Canada: A Haven for UFO's?" Gerard
K. O'Neill will discuss his future plans for converting
Princeton University into the world's first domed and selfsufficient university. Dr. George Lucas of Dry hill Arizona
Research Institute (DARI) will be on hand to discuss his
theories on harnessing the energy of fireballs and meteors,
and converting it into an economical method of powering
household appliances and rockets. The crew of Saturn 3
will also be available for autographs. This convention will
take place on April 1 at 11 am. The registration fee may
be sent to the Astronotes Editor.
Rob Dick adjourned the meeting at 9:53 pm.
Pluto has more mass than Saturn.THE IDES OF MARCH STAR NIGHT Brian Burke
A star night was held at the Indian River Observatory
on Saturnday, March 15. Although the sky was clear, the
low temperature combined with a rather nasty wind kept the
attendance down. However, 11 of us did not pass up the
opportunity to observe the planets and some of the many
deep sky objects under a clear, dark sky.
This star night was the first time that some of the
members had been out to IRO. We all had a chance to observe many objects through telescopes of different sizes
and designs. It is quite interesting to view the same
object through different telescopes so that you can compare the ability of each instrument. This will help you
decide which type of telescope you may want to build or
One such object that all telescopes were eventually
pointed at was M 51, the Whirlpool Galaxy in Canes
Venatici. This is a magnificent deep sky object that
still awes the most experienced observer.
The "stars" of the night were of course the planets.
The belts of Jupiter displayed some interesting features
and markings on Mars' surface were visible. Saturn with
its rings invisible appeared strange. Some of Saturn's
belts were faintly visible. Early in the evening Venus
was also observed. It was approximately 60% illuminated.
To help keep us warm through the night, hot chocolate was served and for the hungry members, there were
cookies to munch on.
Although the attendance was low, the star night was
enjoyed by all those that attended, especially the newcomers to the group. I hope to see you all at the next one.
# # # # # # # # #
Motor, 5 RPH for 120-tooth gear drive for small telescope.
Jim Scott, 722-2652.
# # # # # # # # #
6-inch f/5 photovisual Newtonian reflector. $450.
Contact Clive Gibbons, 516 Bridgman Ave., Burlington,Ontario, L7R 2V4. Coulter Optics, Meade 652 mount with
setting circles, drive, ball bearing polar axis, manual
RA corrector, declination slow motion. 2-mch focusser
with 1¼-inch adapter by University optics. 32-mm 2-mch
diameter Erfle, 22-mm Kellner, and 10.2-mm Ortho. Professional series. 3-x Barlow, off-axis guider, 6 x 30 finderscope, much more. Perfect for general observing and deep
A RHETORICAL QUIZ ON CARL SAGAN'S ANALYSIS OF WORLDS IN
Ian C. Johnson
Carl Sagan's paper on I. Velikovsky's Worlds in
Collision, delivered at the February 1974 AAAS symposium
in San Francisco has become the most widely circulated and
famous critique of Velikovskian catastrophism in the world.
Despite good reviews in the scientific press at the time,
Sagan greatle expanded and revised his Analysis of Worlds
in Collision by early 1976. The reworked essay appeared
virtually unchanged in the 1977 book, Scientists Confront
Velikovsky, and also formed a chapter in the 1979 bestseller, Broca's Brain, where it received much popular
and scientific praise.
For the few professional astronomers who are reading
this, ask yourself how it is possible for a rank amateur
to find numerous "anomolies" in Dr. Sagan's critique which
is held in such high esteem. After reading each of the
following 64 statements by Carl Sagan (listed in the order
of their appearance in the text of Analysis of Worlds in
Collision), indicate whether it is true or false.
1. Velikovsky states all the ancients saw comets in the
sky as clearly representing a witch, then at another time
as a mouse, dragon, etc.
2. Mars changed its physical shape to appear as a lion,
pig, fish, etc. to widely scattered peoples.
3. All myths refer to observations in the sky with no
literary licence if the lore refers to a celestial body.
4. Meteorites of any size are generally silent when
entering the earth's atmosphere.
5. A thunderbolt striking a magnet does not reverse the
poles of the magnet.6. Mythological (qua historical) evidence alone cannot
affirm "worlds in collision."
7. The plague of vermin was due to the Venusian comet.
8. Flies drop out of the Venusian comet.
9. Mars made two near collisions with the earth.
10. Carbohydrates fell in the Sinai only as Jews were the
11. The surface of Venus is hot but this is merely post
hoc support of Velikovsky's theories.
12. Velikovsky is not original or correct in any of his
13. The escape velocity from Jupiter is about 70 km/sec.
14. A comet being ejected from Jupiter is not the Velikovskian argument for the high temperature on Venus.
15. The total kinetic energy to eject Venus from Jupiter is
roughly 1041 ergs, equivalent to all the energy radiated
from the sun to space in one year.
16. Comminution physics applies to the birth of Venus and
many small boulders should still be colliding with earth
as a result of "worlds in collision".
17. Velikovsky's proposed collsions involving Mars and
Venus are statistically independent events as the orbital
periods of the 3 planets never determined a regular set of
18. Velikovsky's ancient sources overlooked the heating
of the world's oceans caused by disturbed rotation.
19. Velikovsky's suggestion that the earth's angular momentum vector moved from being vertical to the ecliptic,
such that the pole pointed at the sun, has extremely grave
problems in its physics.
20. Velikovsky states flatly the earth's rotation came to
a halt, then started up again at the same speed as before.
21. Venus' lack of a magnetosphere presents a major objection to magnetic interaction for "worlds in collision".
22. Earth rocks do not display evidence of very strong
23. No evidence of a magnetic reversal in the last few
thousand years on earth exist.
24. Geomagnetic reversals occur like clockwork every
25. Velikovsky ascribes all reversals of the earth's magnetic field to cometary close approaches.
26. Apollo lunar samples show no rocks melted more recently
than a few hundred million years ago on the moon.
27. The atmosphere of Venus should be related to the
imputed interior composition of Jupiter, in Velikovsky'sscenario.
28. W in C displays a sustained confusion of carbohydrates
29. Carbohydrates (ie, manna) came directly from the
30. Interplanetary space in the inner solar system should
even today be filled with manna.
31. Velikovsky claimed the clouds of Venus were made of
32. From Velikovsky's general thesis it is clear that
Venus should be saturated with manna.
33. The vapour pressure of simple hydrocarbons in the
vicinity of the clouds of Venus should make them detectable
if they comprise the clouds.
34. The carbon on Venus is present in an oxidised form
only and precludes more than a few ppm of simple reduced
35. Observations on the wings of the critical 3.5-micron
region show no trace of the C-H absorption feature common to
both hydrocarbons and carbohydrates.
36. All other absorption bands in the Venus spectrum, from
the ultraviolet to the infrared, are now understood.
37. The clouds of Venus are composed of an approximately
15% solution of sulfuric acid.
38. Organic clouds around Venus are now thoroughly discredited.
39. L.D. Kaplan speculated that hydrocarbons were present
in Venus' clouds only at a Washington, DC press conference
on the results of Mariner II.
4 0. Velikovsky was disreputable in not quoting the belief
in the Mariner; Mission to Venus report of 1963 re greenhouse heating of Venus but instead playing up the "discovery"
of hydrocarbons in the cloud layers.
41. Carbon dioxide and water vapour adequately fill the
3.5-micron window in the Cytherean atmosphere.
42. Velikovsky's theory calls for Mars being today the
hottest planet, more so than Venus.
43. All astronomers in the last 40 years have considered
the surface heat of Mars to be derived from sunshine.
44. Venus got hot as it collided with the earth and Mars
and had near passages to the sun, said Velikovsky.
45. The clouds of Venus, with an infrared temperature of
ca. 240° K, are precisely in line with the amount of sunlight absorbed there.
46. Gerard Kuiper's 1949 work on Jovian endothermy should
have been acknowledged in the 1946 work, W in C.47. Using deductive reasoning, Venus was hot primarily
via close passage to the sun during its cometary incarnation.
48. Massive CO2 on Venus plus (unspecified) amounts of
water vapour are adequate to heat the surface to the
required temperature via a greenhouse effect.
49. A graph of historical microwave brightness temperature
observations of Venus is an appropriate test on whether
Venus is slowly cooling off.
50. Radar echo mapping of Venus showed cratering, proving
the planet is billions of years old, as very recent
cratering would have been evident on earth too. Craters
are almost all impacts of interplanetary debris.
51. It is assumed 3500 years ago that Venus was deep inside Jupiter in Velikovsky's scenario.
52. Velikovsky believed the Martian moon of Phobos and
Deimos snatched some of Mars' atmosphere to appear very
bright objects, apart from the context of the Mars/earth
53. Velikovsky said Mars should have picked up lots of the
earth's oxygen and Venus should have lots of molecular
oxygen in its lower atmosphere to produce petroleum fires.
54. Velikovsky's theory implies the argon and neon of
Mars originated from its earth encounters.
55. A serious problem for Velikovsky is the apparent
absence of in the Martian atmosphere.
56. W in C is an attempt to validate Biblical and other
folklore as history.
57. When a people do not have a historical record of global
catastrophes, Velikovsky accounts for this by invoking the
catch-all "collective amnesia".
58. Velikovsky believed uncritically that the past behaviour of planets was due to sudden jumps just as electrons
in an atom jump from shell to shell, shedding or absorbing
59. Velikovsky's prediction of strong radio emissions
from Jupiter is of no cosmological significance as all
objects give off radio waves if they are at temperatures
above absolute zeron.
60. Collision between proto-Venus and Earth is defined
when the objects are 2R distant (contact).
61. The chance of Velikovsky's comet making a single
full or grazing collision with Earth within the last few
thousand years is one in a thousand if the comet was independent of other debris populations.
62. Velikovsky's comet would have required 30 MY after
ejection from Jupiter to collide with a planet in the innersolar system.
63. For Velikovsky' s scenario to apply, Venus must have
come closer than 10 earth radii (63,000 km), as one myth
said ocean tides were 1600 miles high.
64. Close approaches to Jupiter imply that a cometary
Venus had only tens of years after ejection to strike the
earth, with odds of such an impact ranging from one in a
million to one chance in 3 trillion.
APRIL STAR NIGHT Pierre Lemay
The next star night will be held on Friday, April 18,
or Saturday, April 19, whichever is the first clear night.
This month it will be held in the city of Ottawa at
the home of Robin Molson. The theme for this star night
will be minor planets (asteroids) and our resident expert
and coordinator Dave Fedosiewich will be on hand to explain
to all of us the methods, techniques, and purpose of
We invite all of you to come to this star night and to
bring along telescopes, binoculars, or whatever you have
for observing. This will be an excellent opportunity for
you to learn how to use your instruments. If you don't
have any instruments come along anyway and this will give
you a chance to learn a little bit about telescopes, for
there will be several there that you will be able to use.
We all know that IRO is far away and hard to get at
for star nights, especially for people who do not have
transportation. Well, this is your chance to get to a
star night and not worry about rides and just enjoy this
hobby of amateur astronomy with other people.
Robin lives at 2029 Garfield Avenue, Ottawa, and his
phone number is 225-3082. The easiest way to get to his
house is to take the Queensway (or Carling), get off at
Maitland south, and Garfield is the first right turn after
getting on to Maitland. (Use a map; it will be easier.)
If you use the bus, then numbers 18, 74, 75, 88, 91, 92,
or 97 wil get you there. The Molsons live on the corner
of Garfield and Bel Air.
For more information, please contace Brian Burke
(521-8856) or myself at 777-4965. Se you at around 8 pm.
# # # # # # # # #CRYSTAL-CONTROLLED RA DRIVE OSCILLATOR Frank Roy
This crystal-controlled system was designed with many
ideas in mind. CMOS is used throughout for its large temperature range (-40° C to 85° C). No adjustments are
necessary since it employs a crystal oscillator.
The output transistors are completely protected,
even under short circuit conditions. They will not be
damaged. The circuits are as simple as possible and use
only 4 integrated circuits, with one optional.
The crystal is readily available from Radio Shack. It
is the crystal they use in their frequency counter.
The inverter will deliver 20 watts of power if a
sufficiently large output transformer is used.
The disadvantage is that the oscillator has only
3 discrete output frequencies. No appreciable deviation
from these frequencies is possible without adding extra
complexity or changing the crystal frequency. So it is
important that the RA motor will operate at 30 Hz and
120 Hz. These are the lower and upper freqencies.
A telescope may be designed for odd gears and motors
that require a small shift from the 60 Hz to drive the
telescope at the sidereal rate. A special frequency
divider may then be built in order to obtain the required
frequency at the output.
Since the case of the output transistors is in
electrical contact with the collector, it is necessary
to isolate it from the heat sink. Use a mica insulator
and plastic washer between the case and the heat sink.
The chassis I have found makes a good heat sink.
Try to make all connections to the cabinet non-permanent. All electronic components should be mounted on
one small board if possible. Try to keep it neat with no
loose or bare wires.
Parts and Prices
The total cost of the project approaches $80 starting
from scratch. It is possible to halve this by building
one's own cabinet and scrounging for components.
transistors and IC's; Active Components
DATE: Wednesday, April 23, 1980 TIME: 8:15 p.m.
(Please note the change of date)
TOPIC: "The Vela Supernova:
The 'Once and Future
Star' of the Sumerians?"
Several years ago, explorer-linguist-author Michanowsky suggested that
the supernova explosion which gave rise to the Vela supernova remnant and pulsar
was observed and recorded by the Sumerians. Building on this, Michanowsky also
put forward the extraordinary hypothesis that it was precisely the impact of this
event on Sumerian culture that led to its later development of the arts of
civilisation: astronomy, writing and mathematics. These ideas will be examined
in the light of modern astronomical knowledge and early mesopatamian archaeology
The above lecture will be held in the Main N .R.C., 100 Sussex
COFFEE WILL BE AVAILABLE. VISITORS ARE WELCOME.
Please note that whenever possible, meeting notices and other information sheets
will be distributed inside "Astronotes".
SPEAKER; Dr. P.A. Feldman
Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics
P.O. BOX 6222, OTTAWA
K2A 1T 3transformers and cabinets; Centronics Ltd.
hardware: Wackid Radio and TV
as they sell mostly rejects)
2400 Crystal Drive
Ft. Myers FL 33901
miscellaneous: Kris Electronics, off Greenbank
Electronic Wholesalers, St. Laurent Blvd.
RASC Newsletter, December, 1977; Alphonse Tardif; L69-77
CMOS Cookbook, Don Lancaster, 1979; p79, 65, 88, 151, 235-8
THE PLANETS IN APRIL Brian Burke
Once again this month, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn will
be visible all night. The belts of Jupiter have been
intriguing to observe recently.
One event to keep a watch for is the dichotomy of
Venus, that is, when Venus is 50% illuminated. This will
occur soon after the 5th of the month.
Pluto will reach opposition on the 9th. A map
showing it position throughout the year is on page 93 of
the Observer's Handbook, although with a magnitude of 13.7
you may need the 40-cm telescope to see it.
So, as you can see, there will be plenty to observe
over the next few weeks; all we have need of is clear
skies.SOLAR OBSERVATIONS Rill Donaldson
For the past 3 months I have been recording the sunspots that I've observed on the sun. I have been projecting the solar image onto a piece of graph paper. Using
my 6-inch f/6.3 reflector I find that groups of spots are
quite clear and well-defined. As we reach (if it has not
already passed) solar maximum, an observer will see that the
number of sunspots, filam increase
In this issue of Astronotes, I have included two
graphs of solar activity. The first one is my graph of
visual observations. The dotted lines indicate days when
a visual reading could not be obtained. I have found that
the solar cycle is close to the accepted 27-day rotation
period. If you place my December 20 to January 13 observations over my Janyary 14 to February 6 observations, you
can see the general curve of the period. Of course, it
will not be perfectly aligned because of new outbursts
and disapperances on the sun's surface.
The second graph shows Jim Zlli n sky's radio observations at 230 MHz. You can see that the sun is much more
active through radio observations than with visual observations. The dotted lines extending upwards from the plot
show outbursts that occured on the sun around noon.
Since Jim's radio does not measure solar flux units
above 1600, he continues the lines up for 2000-plus sfu
whenever a burst occurs above 1600 sfu.
I was quite amazed to see the corelation between
our observations. If you take a ruler and lay it vertically
over the two graphs and move it slowly to the right, you
can compare our two observations. You should notice that
they are very similar.
In conclusion, I feel that this will be an excellent
year for observations. So if you are interested in observing, give me a call at 225-6427 or see me at the
Articles for the May issue of Astronotes are due
by April 18.
#########Vol. 19, No. 3 of Astronotes (March, 1980) was incorrectly labled February, 1980 on the upper right of
An-This was the "open" meeting held in Room 1017 at
Sussex Drive to which the membership was invited to observe
the operations of Council, to submit suggestions, and to
raise issues for discussion. The invitation did not generate any new business.
The following are some of the agenda items considered:
1) Meeting Notices - Council is concerned about problems
that have arisen from a decision to publicize lecture
meetings in Astronotes rather than by separate mailings.
The savings are substantial enough to try to find satisfactory solutions. Accordingly, Astronotes will be mailed
"first class", the meeting notice will appear on a colored
centrefold, when possible meetings will be publicized in
at least two consecutive issues, and meetings will be
scheduled for the third week of the month.
2) Financial Operation - Detailed operations concerning
cash advances and spending authority were reviewed and
"budgeting" was proposed both as a solution and a means of
planning the Centre's activities.
3) IRQ Committee - The Committee tabled an extensive and
detailed report listing the jobs that had to be done at
IRO and proposing a set of rules related to the use of the
facility and responsibilities of key holders.
4) Hargraves Committee - Proposals were submitted for the
integration of this and other donations into the Centre's
finances taking into account current liabilities and
potential future programs.
5) Astronotes - Preliminary discussions took place on an
editorial policy for the Centre's newsletter.
R. WlochowiczASTRO NOTES
MS. ROSEMARY FREEMAN CAST
THE ROYAL ASTRON. SOC. OF CAN.
124 MERTON STREET
TORONTO, ONTARIO M4S 2 Z