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|• May 30
The weather has been unsettling, a reminder of the start of the rainy season. I am frustrated unable to observe, while many cometary discoveries have been being made by LINEAR and other projects. I photocopied Norton's star charts and pasted them on A3-size sheets of thick paper. As my comet search is done using 12cm binoculars or 9cm comet-seeker, faint star clusters and nebulae are not visible. Norton's charts are the handiest for this purpose, as the number of charts is rather small. Incidentally, Norton's Atlas was Mr. Minoru Honda's favorite.
Later at night, I drove home from the observatory and found the cat Romi waiting for me in the dark corner of the room. She crawled up quietly to my feet. She doesn't sleep at night and might have been bored. There isn't much to talk about the stars today. I hope, at least, you enjoy the photograph of my cat.
LINEAR C/2001 A2 will soon appear in the morning sky!
Pet cat Romi
|• May 27
The weather improved but seeing was so bad that even C/2001 K3 at magnitude 17 could not be captured. Large-aperture telescopes are vulnerable to poor seeing. However, transparency was better than average spring nights. Intensely bright Mars stood out in the middle of the Milky Way. This hauntingly mysterious red planet must have disturbed people since ancient times.
Mars in the Milky Way
105mm lens with a 2-minute exposure
|• May 22
I named minor planets discovered by Geisei Observatory as follows:
(9196) Sukagawa: Discovered on November 27, 1992
(9323) Hirohisa Sato: Discovered on February 11, 1989
Sukagawa City is where Mr. Sato has been living for many years. It is also where the famous marathon runner Kokichi Tsburaya was born.
Mr. Sato is an amateur astronomer, who has been making great contributions to OAA (Oriental Astronomical Association). The minor planet was named after him to honor his achievements and show our appreciation for his contributions. The name was proposed by Mr. Shoji Harada of OAA.
This is the discovery photograph of Minor Planet 9323 Hirohisa-Sato. The magnitude was 17.5 measured by the 60cm reflector.
Minor Planet 9323
03.09 - 03.39 (double exposure) February 11, 1989 (J.S.T.)
• May 19
Looking out the upstairs south-side window at midnight, I was amazed at the ruddy color of Mars. It was a placid (difficult to describe) and yet eerie color. Mars will become closest to the earth in June during the rainy season and look redder and larger. Even from town the stars were bright tonight in transparent sky, the best in some time.
I woke up at 4am and walked up to the rooftop. I found Venus this time. It was shining very brightly in the eastern sky over the town at the beginning of dawn.
This is the place where I discovered a number of comets in the 1960s. Comet Seki (1961f) was discovered right above the neon lights on the steel tower. Just forty years have passed since. It is like a dream.
Geisei Observatory will have its 20th anniversary this year. We are planning some events to commemorate it.
Mars seen from the rooftop
Venus seen from the rooftop
|• May 10
The moon has moved eastward sufficiently, creating a two-hour dark period after full moon. "Dark skies" at the observatory are not dark in summer as you can see from this photograph. Almost every night there is a night baseball game(sandlot baseball) lighting the night sky as brightly as daytime. In this bright night sky I made a photographic observation of Comet Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova low in the western sky. When all the lights for a night game are turned off, the sky glow will be halved. Lights from the streets have also contributed to severe light pollution. Geisei could become known infamously as the brightest observatory in Japan. However, my guiding principle is "Do as much as you can even under unfavorable conditions." While driving back home after completing work at the observatory at 22.30, I saw from my car an interesting sight of the moon and mars shining side by side.
• May 2
Copyright (C) 2001 Tsutomu Seki.