PeGASus Newsletter Issue #23 – Sept. 23, 1991

Hello, everyone!! Welcome back from the summer as we look ahead to another year.


CASINO EVENT:

We had our scheduled casino event June 4, 5, 6. Overall it was quite successful – we earned a net amount of $4434.41. This is practically identical with the earnings from our last event (1989 July 30, 31, Aug 1) where we earned $4464.50. I am particularly happy how the last night turned out – we were losing at one point and managed to turn it around. With the total we now have in the bank ($9500) plus the 1/3 we will get with the B.C. Lotteries grant, we should have enough to erect the first phase of the new observatory on the Blackwater Road.

Many, many thanks to all the volunteers who helped out! They are: Diane Bailey, Gerhard Bierman (2 nights), Gordon England, Fred Garneau, Rod Marynovich, Steve Marynovich (2 nights), David Mercer, Valerie Mosser, Bob Nelson (2 nights), Alan Pretty, Mike Pretty, and Brian Stauffer. The hours were long but not unpleasant – it’s certainly an easy way to earn substantial money!


OBSERVATORY NEWS:

I would love to be able to tell you that everything is progressing at a great pace, but alas, things take time, as always. At this instant, we have a site, the licence of occupation is imminent, the B.C. Lotteries grant is still valid, and the clearing of land, etc is not a problem. We still need a set of plans (imminent) and once we have our licence, we can dig for the foundations. That is when we will have work parties: we have to prepare for the footings (then pour redi-mix) and install the forms and sono-tube (then pour redi-mix). At that point, we can hire a bricklayer and have the walls erected.

We will try to get the above completed before winter (but we’ll have to close up to keep the snow out); with luck, the College carpentry class will install the floor and roof; we’d then be ready to move the telescope and dome by May or June (hope, hope).

We should have enough money, although we may have to float a loan (using the mirror as collateral) on the strength of a casino licence for next summer. That is the game plan.


WHAT’S GOING ON IN THE SKY:

Well, yours truly was fortunate to travel to Mazatlan for the eclipse of 1991 July 11. The following is a brief account:

My wife, Lois and I were part of a tour that the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Calgary Section (otherwise known as the RASCals) had organized. At 5:30 on the great day, we boarded buses (in the humid heat) for the anticipated 3 hour trip to the observing site. (We had a military escort!) As we travelled inland, the clouds seemed to get thicker and yours truly did not have a lot of hope. However, member Alan Whitman (a professional meteorologist) was aboard the bus and exercised his judgement (on visual and other data). He suggested that we turn back and head to the coast along a road that we had passed some 40 or 50 km back. The site turned out to be ideal – on the beach with lots of room to set up (plus a thatched roof to get out of the sun!). There were a total of 10 or 15 buses there with people from other groups.

There was some uncertainty as to whether we might have to move (and I had a Celestron to set up!), but as the first partial phase progressed, it got clearer and clearer. I set up and got some photos, both with a piggy-back camera with a 400 mm lens, and through the telescope with 2000 mm f.l.

At totality, it was totally clear. Great excitement with people applauding and crying out with glee! I took photos until Lois reminded me that I hadn’t looked through the telescope yet. I was rewarded with fine views of the inner corona plus two large solar prominences, one on the east side and the other on the west. Without the telescope, one could easily see two planets to the east of the sun: Jupiter and Venus (with Venus being further away). Two others, Mercury and Mars were also present to the east of the sun but were some 3 magnitudes fainter than Jupiter and harder to see. There was so much to see, and in spite of the fact that this was the longest eclipse for the next 100 years or so, the time just flew by.

Other observers noted phenomena I hadn’t: shadow bands were seen, the fainter planets and stars were seen, plus a pig tethered nearby flopped on its side when it got dark! Some birds overhead, however, continued to fly.

I don’t have my slides at the present; I sent them by Loomis to the RASCals where copies of my best ones will be combined with selected ones from the others. A full set of slides, as well as a videotape will be made available by all. Therefore, we shall have to wait until probably the January meeting until we will see a presentation on the eclipse.


NEXT MEETING:

On Wednesday, Sept 25 at CNC in room 2-223 (Physics Lab). We can discuss the observatory situation, set up the observers’ list, look at some recently acquired slides or look at the first episode of “The Astronomers”. See you there!!

Bob Nelson, President