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|• March 22
It was so warm during the daytime that I almost began to perspire. After hanging the laundry at the rooftop, I went to Kochi Park. Around Ninomaru palace of Kochi Castle cherry trees have started to flower and many paper lanterns were hung from the branches. In no time they will be in full bloom and crowds will gather to enjoy them. Cherry blossoms around this old castle are stunningly beautiful. I should be feeling spirited around this time of year, but feel somewhat wistful realizing that observing sessions under excellent conditions were almost over. The stars are most beautiful in winter skies.
|• March 21
With the sun passing the vernal equinox, spring has suddenly arrived. Although the night sky looked quite clear, it was hazy and pale affected by spring mist or dust blown over from China. Observing wasn't easy under these conditions. From the dome I saw Mars and Antares shining side by side as if competing for ruddiness. In the northern sky there was an impressive view of the Big Bear and Little Bear turning in a circle. I searched the eastern sky horizontally for 30 minutes until dawn using the 12cm binoculars. That part of the sky is usually less light-polluted, but mist made faint stars invisible and only the globular cluster M15 in Equuleus drifted into the field of view with a bright glow. At 5 am twilight invaded the sky from nowhere. Now I will soon be on my way home driving 40 kilometers back.
Mars and Antares seen from the dome
Turning Ursa Major
|• March 18
This is Sunday and the sky has finally cleared up after many days of bad weather. I rode a bicycle around my neighborhood. Along the road on the bank of Kagamigawa River numerous tiny white flowers (the size of a rice grain) covered the ground as if heralding the arrival of spring. More than 100 wild ducks were resting on the river. And yet as recently as March 8 it snowed. This abrupt change of seasons is typical of the warm southern part of the country.
When I came near Kochi Park, I discovered the first blossoming cherry tree inside the fence of an old house. The sun light was slightly yellowish and strong springtime winds were blowing through the streets. People passing by looked somewhat livelier. Before long we may be able to hear the singing of Japanese bush warblers from the forests around Geisei Observatory.
I came to the observatory at night, but soon after, it became overcast. A long stretch of a contrail running from west to east developed and spread throughout the sky over the basin of Geisei Village.
|• March 10
Taro, our pet dog, which had lived with us for 16 years, is now gone, leaving only the Persian cat with us. When I return home from the observatory at midnight or in the morning, she appears from nowhere and snuggles around my feet. She looks as if protesting about being left alone throughout a long night and telling me she was so lonely. I thought of calling her "Spica", if her eyes were blue. But they turned out to be gold and I decided to name her "Romi" a very ordinary name for a cat. She came from Aki City, near the observatory. She is now 7 years old.
|• March 8
It was warm and fine during morning, but in the afternoon it became cold as a cold wave moved south. This severe cold snap was accompanied by a cold air mass lower than -30°C and moved south over the Shikoku Mountains. It brought snow to the plain of Kochi, which was unusual in March. The photograph is a view from my upstairs window. Several thousand cars pass by everyday along the road.
The place from which I discovered comets in the 1960s is at the back of the single-level house across the street to the right. About 30 years ago the sky was dark with stars and moon shining beautifully.
In the midst of the cold, spring is steadily coming closer. I saw peach flowers in full bloom during a weekly walking exercise and before long we may hear the news of earlier-than-expected flowering of cherry trees. However, at the moment yellow flowers of Brassica napus (rape blossoms) are at their best.
There is an ancient cherry tree at the tomb for Torahiko Terada* at Higashikuma in Kochi City. I am looking forward to finding out what that cherry tree looks like when blooming. Cherry blossoms are beautiful, but I feel a tinge of sadness. Is it because the flowers are short-lived or is it because of their majestic beauty?
*Torahiko Terada: A well-known physicist-essayist, who was born in Tokyo and grew up in Kochi.
Copyright (C) 2001 Tsutomu Seki.