Happy new year, everyone!! Let’s hope that this year brings the best our club has ever had. There’s a lot of news to report, hence the reason for this newsletter.
RECENT EVENTS AT TMO
This is not one of those areas that I had in mind for news. Unfortunately, until this week, we have not had a lot of clear nights this year. (Yours truly did get out twice.) Worse, last week’s warm spell has turned the road to the observatory into a sheet of ice; several members of the executive have been turned back on the road. My own four-wheel drive Subaru has been in the repair shop and out of action for the last couple of weeks. The best bet in getting up the road seems to be chains. We will probably make an effort next week. Meanwhile we have a couple of requests standing by for observatory tours.
There is much to report here. During a Christmas trip to Vancouver, I visited Dr. Gordon Walket at UBC. He was very helpful in his suggestions regarding projects for our club and agreed that the measurement of comet positions (and also searches for variable stars) that we could do photographically would be very worthwhile. He even offered to load us, on a long-term loan, a microdensitometer and a blink comparator. The first instrument measures on a photographic plate (as large as 8″ x 10″) positions accurate to 0.001 mm or so. The second device allows one to compare precisely (every second or so) two photographic plates. Any object such as a comet, variable star etc — anything that varies — shows up immediately. Both projects seem a ‘natural’ for our 24″ long-focus telescope and soon-to-be-completed 4 x 5 camera. The acquisition of expensive equipment for nothing is a real ‘coup’; Jim Livingstone will be travelling to Vancouver in late February and will bring back the instruments in March.
Speaking of the camera, progress is steady and I should have something to show you at our meeting this week. The sensitizing tank is coming along too. My plans to buy personally a digital camera to mount on the telescope and feed images to a computer look less bright (no pun) as the device on which I recently got information does not appear to be suitable. I will keep looking as it seems to be a good idea.
And now for the really good news! Bob Fulton has been looking into fundraising for us, and reports that our club is now booked for casino nights at the Holiday Inn for two sessions: July 4, 5, 6 and Aug 26, 27, and 28. (We can have a third session later in the year if we want.) The whole operation is put on by professionals who will guarantee that we will not lose money. Al we have to do is supply 4 helpers for each evening. Typical proceeds are — get this — $2000 for each of 3 day stint! Now, we may not get this much each time; however, I would be deleriously happy to get even $1000. Such an amount would pay off our debts and really set us on our feet; more, and the mind boggles.
I don’t really have to tell you what an income of several thousand per year could allow us to buy. [A full set of the finest 2″ eyepieces, a good set of charts and reference books, an image intensifier, a hydrogen alpha filter, polaroid back for the 4×5 camera,all the film we could use, a top quality digital camera, and even — gasp — hydro power and a telephone at the observatory.] While our society will probably never be rich and much of the above list may be a fantasy, our days of penny-pinching may be over.
WHAT’S GOING ON IN THE SKY
- There is apparently a supernova in view located in our galaxy. Supernovae in our own galaxy are quite rare, the last being in Kepler’s time (1607). This one’s designation is N And (Andromeda) and is located at RA = 23h 12m, DEC = +47.5 deg (1950 coord?) and was at 8th mag. I looked for it in early Jan and may have seen it but could not be sure as my chart did not really go faint enough.
- There is also a comet — Comet Sorrells — which is also in Andromeda. (See Sky and Telescope for particulars.)
- Jupiter and Mars are still visible. Later in the year we’ll be able to see the other planets in evening skies.
THURSDAY, Jan 28 in room 2-223 (Physics Lab) at 7:30. Two important things will be discussed. We plan to have on display a selection of resource materials such as charts, the Observer’s Handbook, other books. Where there is interest, we can take a deposit and send off joint orders. You will have to be there or contact me to take advantage of this offer. The other topic is the general interest astronomy course to be offered by CNC and put on by your executive. This will start Feb 11 (Wed) and go for 10 weeks. There appears to be a lot of interest in this event — come and hear about it.
The featured talk will be by Jim Livingstone — on his experiences at the 1979 total eclipse in central Manitoba. If it was anything like my trip that year, I’m sure he’ll have a fascinating tale to tell.
We hope to see you there!!!
Bob Nelson, President