Category Archives: 1986

PeGASus Newsletter #2 – Dec. 12, 1986

Well! This is getting to be a habit — I look forward to communicating with you about a subject dear to us all. I’m not sure this will get to you before Christmas but here goes….


LAST MEETING (86 Nov 20)

For those of you unable to attend, we had a fine gathering with about 12 in attendance. Many topics were discussed, Eric gave a good talk on telescopes and I feel thatmuch was accomplished. A summary …

  • New Executive … Pres- Bob Nelson
  • V. Pres- Kim Jenner
  • Sec- Francis O’Shea
  • Treas- John Crow
  • Mem.at.Large- Eric Hoogstraten
  • Jim Livingstone

Some ideas for fundraising:

  1. Hosting a casino/bingo night — Bob Fulton will investigate. If we could manage to get on the schedule, this could prove to be a good source of income — I’ve heard of groups raising $900 – $1000 in one night. (I’ll take it, I’ll take it!!) With that kind of money, we could think about getting all kinds of goodies, like an image intensifier (latest models amplify — make brighter — images by a factor of 60,000; this would turn our telescopeinto the equivalent of a 150 m (??) telescope), a CCD camera (we could do the guiding from the warm room) or hydro power (no more batteries) …
  2. Putting on an Astronomy course in conjunction with CNC — we’ll work on this. It is definitely going to happen, probably starting in mid February. The probable text is Nightwatch – An Equinox Guide to Viewing the Universe (available from Coles). Current thinking is to keep this at a very introductory level — no experience necessary — and to concentrate on observing, how to find things in the sky, how telescopes work, planetary motion, projects, etc. Several people will be involved — it’ll be a joint effort. Stay tuned.

OBSERVATORY NEWS

We have fixed the focusser of the 24″ telescope. Jim Livingstone ordered the gears and yours truly made the shaft and assemled it all. The focusser now works smoothly.

There have unfortunately been no tours to the observatory in November. Partly to blame are the general lack of clear nights (there have been only a few). However, the weather has not been that cold — come on you guys!

With the new observer’s list (enclosed) we should soon get some club observing going soon. Next clear night …

The film sensitizing tank is half made. The 4″ x 5″ camera is coming along — I hope to do some more work on it as soon as I get exams, marking, ordering, course planning, etc out of the way. Maybe in the new year ..(?)..

Actually, there is no reason why guided exposures in the 35 mm format format could not be made anytime of Jupiter or the Orion Nebula — both of which are quite bright and require relatively short exposure times. Phone one of our active observers — myself, Kim, Eric, or Jim if you’re interested.


WHAT’S GOING ON IN THE SKY

  • Jupiter is still visible, st reasonable elevations; it hasn’t reached “heroic hour angles yet. Mars, which was sinking to the west, is coming back — it’s moving to the east in retrograde. [Retrograde is the apparent backward motion of an outer planet — the normal direction is west to east relative to the stars — as the Earth moves past in its orbit.] As of December 18th, Mars will pass 1/2 degree north of Jupiter. If you can’t make it to the observatory, look for the pair in the south within a day or two of that date — it should be quite a striking sight.
  • The Orion Nebula must be seen in the 24″ telescope to be believed. If you haven’t seen it in the big ‘scope yet, what are you waiting for?
  • Venus rises about 3 hours before the Sun. If you’re up then, look for it in the east. (Mercury is very low in the southeast then.)
  • Winter solstice is Dec 21 at :02 PM local time — it’s at its most southern part of the sky then. (It’s just as well — at noon, it’s only 13 degrees above the horizon here.)

NEXT MEETING

We’ve planned an informal Christmas gathering for Friday, Dec 19 at Francis O’Shea’s, 2703 Petersen Road, Pr. Geo. To get there, just drive west on Westwood and Petersen is the very last road on your left. (Phone 563-6928 in case you get lost.) It’s for 8 PM, BYOB. We’ll bring munchies, etc. If there’s interest, we’ll look at slides of Hawaii or whatever. Bring your spouse/loved one, etc.

Hope to see you there!

Bob Nelson, President

PeGASus Newsletter #1 – Nov 20, 1986

SURPRISE! I am finally getting around to doing something that has been needed for a long time to keep us in touch — sending out a newsletter. Eventually I, or whoever takes up this task will settle onto a regular format and style — but for now, here goes . . .


OBSERVATORY NEWS

We have been making some progress on the things that have been bugging us and holding us back from doing what we want to do as amateur astronomers. How about the following?

  1. Installing a better finder scope. The latter was constructed from a 4″ sewer pipe and a 3.5″ f/10 (or so) achromatic finder that was lying around the Physics Lab. It works well and should help us find objects in the sky much better.
  2.  Balancing the telescope. The unbalance in certain positions has been annoying us for a while. I think we have finally got it set now and understand the balancing procedure better.
  3. Fixing the sidereal drive. The gears inside the Hearst 0.5 RPM synchronous motor had been stripped (about Sept of this year). We ordered a replacement motor (for about $100) and got it installed. The drive works fine now. Direct (guided or unguided) 35 mm photography at the Cassegrain focus should now be possible. (Bring your camera next time.) Promising objects are Jupiter, the Moon, the Orion nebula and various other star clusters. Wait till the next clear, dark night . . .

Next on the agenda is:

  1. The construction of a 4″ x 5″ camera that will allow us to take pictures about 3/4 of a degree wide. This would be great for star clusters such as the Pleiades, the Hyades, the Beehive, etc. It would also allow us to take a full-frame picture of the Moon. As it is now, you only get a fraction of the Moon on a 35 mm frame. A shutter for the Moon would have to be made, however, as short exposures (1/500 sec etc) are needed using fast film.
  2. A (hydrogen) film sensitizing tank — Jim Livingstone, a new member, has made inquiries about getting the gas we will need — it’s not too expensive and is readily available on special order. We will be constructing a chamber that will hook up to an existing vacuum system at the College and will accommodate plates up to 4×5 in size. (Film sensitization is necessary to overcome the so-called reciprocity failure occurring with the long exposures — 10 min to one hour — needed for astronomical photography.)
  3. The addition of a motorized drive in right ascension (left and right) for the ‘seek and set’ (s&s) speed. At present we have in operation both the s&s and guide (ultra slow) speeds for declination (up and down), and the guide speed in right ascension. This addition would make it possible to stand at the finder, holding the hand control, and have the motors move the telescope, centring the object. One could then I look through the eyepiece and centre the object without having to strain at pulling or pushing the massive telescope, often at awkward angles.

There are many other things that we have planned for the observatory — the building for example, could use some work — however, they will have to wait.


RECENT EVENTS AT TMO (Tabor Mtn Observatory)

  1. Oct 1/2? Roger Fox’s Grade 12 class from Duchess Park. About 40 people in all, including 3 of my own students.
  2. Oct 9/10 Our first club outing. Alan Pretty (and 2 guests), Keith Blaney, Kim Jenner, Eric Hoogstaten, John Crow, Faye Pollack, Jim Livingstone and myself were in attendance. Also there were about 30 cubs and parents there. A good time was had by all. Later, Kim (Clave) and Jim (Brandon) compared (argued over?) eyepieces.
  3. Oct 16/17 — Jennifer Smith’s Grade 5 class from Lakewood Elementary.

I myself was out last Saturday (Nov 8/9) to do my variables for the AAVSO. An icy wind conspired to freeze my fingers and nose, and fog up my glasses. Not too pleasant. It would have been much better inside the dome (I was outside). Incidentally, now that the cold weather has arrived, it is a good time to mention that I have purchased 20 L of kerosene which should keep the heater going for a while, making the warm room nice and toasty-warm. In addition, Kim said he would keep his propane heater up there for our use. So if one wears good winter clothing, stays inside the building, and makes use of the warm room occasionally, there should be nothing to fear from the cold weather. Winter can bring the really clear, steady nights…


WHAT’S GOING ON IN THE SKY

  • Jupiter is still visible, reasonably high in the sky. On a clear night it is fantastic in the 24″ — you can see several bands clearly, plus — on occasion — the red spot.
  • Mars, low in the southwest, is in the “blob stage”.
  • The Orion Nebula rises about 9:00 these days and is a truly spectacular object in the 24″
  • The Andromeda Galaxy, a binocular or even naked-eye object, is almost directly overhead these days.
  • Vesta (asteroid 4) is visible in the constellation of Cetus.
  • Mercury, which undergoes a (very rare) transit of the Sun Nov 13, is unfortunately only visible in Asia, Africa and eastern Europe then.

NEXT MEETING

THURSDAY, Nov 20 in room 2-223 (Physics Lab) at 7:30. We will elect officers and have talk, possibly by Eric Hoogstraten on mirror and/or telescope mount making. We also hope to discuss this year’s programme and find out what you, the members, want. We would love to see you there!!!

Bob Nelson, President