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|• July 31
There were a lot of clouds yesterday evening, but it cleared up past midnight.
I observed LINEAR and other comets and searched the eastern sky using the 12cm comet seeker. My perspiration fogged up the eyepiece frequently and I was unable to make much progress. At 3.09 am a Perseid meteor of 5th magnitude raced across the sky and left a trail lasting for about 10 seconds. About 45 years ago today Mr. Minoru Honda discovered an 8th magnitude comet in Eridanus in morning twilight. At 4 am the whole of Orion was hanging in twilight and three planets placed themselves vertically in a straight line above the horizon providing a magnificent sight.
From bottom Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn
60-minute exposure on ISO 400 film
using a 50mm lens
|• July 27
The predawn eastern sky was lively with three planets close to each other; Saturn, Venus, and Jupiter. But Jupiter was barely above the horizon at daybreak, making it impossible for an 85mm telephoto lens to catch it. The Pleiades, the symbol of the autumn night, is high up in the sky.
The Hyades, Saturn, and Venus
|• July 25
It was clear tonight. After finishing the main work in the dome, I went to the nearby hill at 3.20 am and searched the eastern sky. The Pleiades and many open clusters in Auriga crossed the eyepiece field. Even if you cannot discover a comet, you can still experience wonderful encounters with beautiful clusters and nebulae. This makes comet searching worthwhile.
The photograph shows me searching for a new comet with the 9cm comet seeker (at 17x with a 3.5° field) which discovered Comet Ikeya-Seki. I am searching hard dreaming of a repeat of the comet's discovery. Then I suddenly noticed the three planets all lined up in the eastern sky well into twilight.
• July 19
This is a public viewing day at the observatory and about 40 primary school children in the city and their parents visited us. We had the clearest night so far this year. The Milky Way and Mars in the southern sky were extraordinarily clear and bright. A star of magnitude 2 or 3 grazing the distant ocean was flaming as brightly as a first magnitude star.
The children (5th graders) observed Mars with the 20cm refractor and learned about the summer constellations. I believe a talk about my discovery of comets made a positive impact on them. They saw fireflies in the bushes around the observatory. They also found a cat's eyes shining in the dark. "Look, a shooting star!" They all had a valuable and rare experience.
|• July 3
As soon as the rainy season came to an end, blue summer skies arrived.
I photographed LINEAR with the 16cm-Epsilon f/3 telescope. The nucleus (B) was impressive shining white in the mysteriously greenish large coma. The tail extends to the upper right (southwest) over a distance of more than one degree, but very thin. I tracked the comet for 18 minutes using ISO 400 negative film. However, in the photo taken by the 60cm telescope on reversal film shows a pinkish stream in the coma. It may be an indication of material different from what normally is seen.
After finishing observation in the dome, I returned to the top of the hill at 3.30 am where I parked my car and searched the eastern sky for about 20 minutes using the 9cm comet seeker. The Pleiades was already shining and Aldebaran rose above the hill. A story about Mr. Takao Namura, who ground my comet seeker's lens, will be broadcast from 8.30-9.00 am on July 7 on BS2. This lens was his first piece of work.
18-minute exposure on ISO 400 film
Venus, the Pleiades, and Aldebaran
20-second exposure by 85mm f/2 lens
|• July 1
LINEAR can now be seen earlier, as it has moved northward. It is fairly high in the sky at 2.30 am. The tail was difficult to see for a while, but it is now fairly long and narrow. In a photograph taken by the 60cm telescope, it overflows the 2-degree-wide field. The bright part of the coma is about 12' in diameter, but if the faint hazy part is included, it is about 22' , nearly the diameter of the moon. Its brightness is equal to or slightly brighter than that of the globular cluster M13 in Hercules. To the naked eye it is barely detectable. Although the moon will brighten, it will become easier to see as it moves further north.
When I completed my observation at 3.40 am, I saw Venus and the Pleiades low in the twilight sky from the top of the hill. I remembered that, on July 1, nearly 40 years ago, Mr. Ikeya had discovered the 7th magnitude Comet Ikeya 2 in the Hyades. I felt a comet was perhaps lying secretly near the Pleiades. I stood still there looking toward the Pleiades in a daze for some time.
Copyright (C) 2001 Tsutomu Seki.