• January 31
I started shipping Comet Bulletin 2002 and C.B. 490-491 on Thursday. I
made several trips carrying heavy parcels to the nearby "Ryoma"
Post Office 200 meters away from my place. The bronze statue of the warrior
Ryoma standing at the entrance of the post office looked as if scolding
me, "Hurry up! You won't make it!"
On the evening of January 31, I went to the observatory earlier to take photos of 15P/Finlay. However, the clouds persisted low in the western sky and I could not take any photo. Even if the weather had been clear, I wouldn't have been able to capture 15-magnitude stars anyway because of light pollution over Kochi City and the comet's low altitude.
• January 24
Kochi was the only city in western Japan whose minimum temperature was forecast to be -2 degrees. Although I put on warm clothes to protect myself from the freezingly cold night, the cold sneaked in between the layers of clothes. Thermal plasters* had not much effect. (*disposable plasters which generates heat by chemical reactions.)
Somehow I succeeded in capturing C/2002 A3 LINEAR, which had been discovered under very unfavorable conditions: low in the western sky with the setting moon. However, I was distracted by the Milky Way around Serius with the comet overlapping with faint stars.
I turned the 60cm telescope toward the periodic comet Macholz 1 (96P/Machholz 1) at 6 am, but it turned out to be behind the forest. I quit observation and returned home through the freezing air. It was past 7 am.
• January 8
It was very stormy today with the cold wave arriving from the Asian Continent.
In spite of this, I headed for the observatory around 11.30 pm. I suspected
that seeing would improve toward midnight. However, when I was just about
to leave home, the car's windshield had already frosted over and the road
was nearly frozen. The stars over the observatory were all twinkling furiously.
Although the sky background was very dark, this penetrating cold is certainly
the worst this winter. From 4 am I started to sweep the northeastern sky
near Hercules and Lyre. At 5 am in the southeastern sky the moon was shining
and Antares has risen. Watching the sky where no comets were visible...
this has become my long-time habit or routine! At 6 am I climbed down the
observatory hill with satisfaction that I had studied the sky to my heart's
• Janaury 6
• January 5
It is the day of the annual early spring swimming contests. I went to the prefectural swimming pool on Sanbashi-doori Road at 9 am. I entered 25-meter and 50-meter breaststroke races. I was 0.1 second slower than last year in the 25-meter event and as much as 2 seconds slower in the 50-meter. Maybe the time has come for me to retire.
I have never stopped dreaming about finding new comets. At anytime, at any place, it has never left my mind. But only at the intense moment when I stepped onto the starting block at the whistle and heard "on your mark" , I did not think about comets.
I think I should learn swimming methods next year. Just like guitar, you have to put in a lot of efforts just to maintain your ability in any field. Improving it will require more than that.
New Year celebrations still continue and traffic in town is still light. The night skies are beautiful, too.
Five of my star-loving friends came to my place to chat about astronomy,
the first such gathering in spring. In the photograph are Kenji Muraoka
(at front) and Tsutomu Seki on the left. Shigeo Shimomoto (at front) and
Shinichi Kawazoe on the right. Mr. Keiichiro Okamura is not in this photo
as he had left earlier. All of them are adept with computers. Although
Messrs Muraoka and Shimomoto met for the fist time, they mostly talked
about computers. Then I had a long distance phone call from Mr. Kenichi
Kadota, who is an ardent observer. Minor Planet 9751 had just been named
after him. The call arrived at the right time.
Mr. Muraoka handed me the manuscript of Comet Bulletin, which was expected to be published late January this year.
The conversation forever lasted until we broke up at 23.00.