PeGASus Newsletter Issue #20 – Mar. 25, 1991

Hello, everyone!! (Brian speaking)

With the warmer weather approaching, it is a bit more liveable for those of us who are fair weather astronomers.

On the 10th of March I was able to watch Callisto eclipse Europa (these are the 4th and 2nd Galilean satellites of Jupiter, resp.). I was surprised to actually see a difference in brightness in Europa as Callisto passed between it and the sun. The eclipse lasted for 12 minutes.

I hunted unsuccessfully for Comet Levy, which is now between the head of Hydra and the star Alphard (= à Hya 9h 27m, -8ø 37′) and a little bit to the west. I would like to know if anyone else has seen it yet.

For those amongst us who are armchair astronomers, PBS is featuring a six-part series “The Astronomers” starting April 15th. Maybe it is just what some of us need to spark interests once again.

Planets: Mercury will be visible about 30-45 minutes after sunset starting the 15th of March reaching greatest elongation on March 27 only to disappear 2 weeks later. To know where to look, draw an imaginary line between the two brightest objects in the sky (Jupiter and Venus) and a spot on the horizon where the sun has just set. Mercury will be less than 12ø above the horizon (which is the width of your hand held at arm’s length). Mars is still visible; March is your last chance to see it before it returns to a pinpoint of light. (Next opposition is 2 years away!) Mars is just below Auriga and shines at magnitude +0.8. Let’s see if we can observe all 8 planets this year!

The club is in the planning stages of making a 10″ Dobsonian that will be made available to everyone in the club to use – feel free to participate in the planning and construction of this club project. [Editor’s note: the spider and secondary mirror holder arrived Mar 15. I may order a secondary mirror from Sky Instruments in Vancouver presently.]

If anyone is wanting star charts, I believe Bob may still have some left from previous meetings [we do – Editor] – they’re free! (It helps to know what you’re looking at.)

Armed with rusty woodworking skills, progress on my mount and tripod is slowly happening – I hope to have it finished by April. It will host a 3″ f/15 refractor (perfect for lunar and planetary viewing).

– Brian Potts


LAST MEETING: (Bob again)

This went well with 3-D charts of comet orbits and a slide show on Kitt Peak Observatory based on my visit in 1980. Yuh shudda been there!

[By the way, note the renumbering of the newsletter, based on a review of previous editions: 15 becomes 18, 16 becomes 19.]


RECENT EVENTS AT TMO:

Well, I managed at long last to get up there on Sunday last. (Any vehicle with snow tires could make it that day.) All is well, no unauthorized person has been in there and there is no more evident damage from rodents. I set 6 mouse traps to make sure that it stays that way.


OBSERVATORY NEWS:

Well, I phoned the Gaming Branch in Victoria and was told that our application for a casino licence is being reviewed by the appropriate official and, if approved, will be typed up and submitted to the commission for final approval. It will be “another month at most”. My informant tells me that the time span for Prince George is 4-5 months from initial submission to casino dates. We submitted early December, so that would be “late spring or early summer” if all goes well. That would be OK with me, because once we have the license and the dates firmly committed, we could start on the planning and work for the power line and security system. Yours truly can also start on the necessary modifications to the telescope to accept the new secondary mirror (the overall focal length has changed slightly).

I shan’t go on about what else will transpire, but I can tell you that there would be work “bees” and lots of activity up there, transforming the largely empty building up there to a functioning observatory again. It promises to be quite exciting. Let’s hope that all goes well.


PROJECTS:

Well, the spider and secondary mirror holder have arrived from Kenneth Novak & co. With a secondary, we will have all we need to mount the Coulter 10″ mirror for a club telescope. (We can make the mirror cell ourselves.) I’ll set up something with Al Pretty soon so that we can get working in his workshop on this. Other possible projects are camera platforms and Poncet mounts for Dobsonian telescopes (which mimic equatorial motion). Stay tuned.


SOFTWARE NEWS:

My program ASTROTIME (for the IBM pc) which, upon input of location, date, time, and astronomical coordinates of an object, calculates the precessed coordinates, local sidereal time, julian date, location in the sky (horizon coordinates) and air mass, now also calculates the constellation the object is in and gives the galactic coordinates. If you’re interested, bring a disk and snag yourself a copy of this useful program. (NO CHARGE!!)


WHAT’S GOING ON IN THE SKY:

See above. On March 7/8, Rod Marynovich were able to find Comet Levy in Hydra. It was a moderately faint smudge with no tail visible, good to find at last. Unfortunately the moon is working around to gibbous again and will probably wash out the comet in future nights.


NEXT MEETING:

1991 March 28 at 7:30 PM in room 2-223 at CNC. I plan to give a condensed version of the talk I have to give to the Science I class the following week. It will be comprised of the following: A thumbnail sketch of the major problems of astronomy over the ages, a summary of what amateurs (or anyone with a small telescope) can contribute, and details of what I have been able to accomplish plus future possibilities. Incidentally, I’ll have news of the newly-formed Association of Binary Star Observers (ABSO).

See you there!

Bob Nelson, President