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|• April 21
We held a party at a Japanese-style restaurant near Harimayabashi Bridge to celebrate Mr. Kenji Muraoka's receipt of an award. Ten of his friends living in this prefecture gathered for this occasion. They enjoyed the reunion and lost themselves in absorbing conversation about stars. A congratulatory message from Mr. Toshikazu Matsumoto in Fukui Prefecture was read to the gathering. Mr. Akira Kawazoe showed color slides of aurorae in Canada and Comet Ikeya-Zhang to entertain the participants. It is rather unusual that a person has received a commendation from Astronomical Society of Japan for a contribution other than discovery of a new object. We were hopeful that more people would make this type of achievements in the future. The group presented Mr. Muraoka with a commemorative photo album.
In the photograph Mr. Kenji Muraoka explains what has led to the recognition of his achievement.
|• April 14
The weather has cleared up, but stars at low altitudes are misty because of haze typical of springtime and dust caused by dust storms in China. At 3.30 in the morning Comet Ikeya-Zhang was barely visible to the naked eye under these poor conditions. It is doubtful that the public can notice this comet. This comet is no match for comets like Hale-Bopp and Hyakutake.
The photograph below was taken by the 60cm reflector with a guided exposure of 12 minutes. It was magnitude 3.5 with a faint 2-degree tail. The position measurements provided in Astronomical Notice Board were made with a 10-second exposure resulting in good accuracy.
On the other hand, Comet Utsunomiya did not come into view although I waited until 4.20 am, the beginning of daybreak. It remained blocked by trees up to 7 degrees above horizon.
12-minute exposure on TP6451 film from 3:30 am, April 14
60cm f/3.5 reflector at Geisei Observatory
|• April 1
Cherry blossoms are in full bloom now, a little earlier than the average season. It is rather strange that cherry trees in Tokyo and Osaka flowered about a week earlier than in warmer Kochi. The photograph shows the famous cherry trees on the banks of Kagamigawa River (Minor Planet 4256), which runs south of our home. The trees line the banks for 300 meters in full bloom. The trees around the observatory are also at the best. At night the parking lot at the foot of the hill where the observatory stands is lit by red lanterns and voices of visitors are heard at the observatory.
Comet Ikeya-Zhang, which I observed tonight, was glowing in a spring haze low in the sky and only the coma was visible faintly. Probably it will be visible in the evening sky only today or tomorrow. From the middle of the month it will become visible again in morning twilight low in the northeastern sky. It is about third magnitude and maybe at the brightest.
Photographs of the comet in the eastern sky will be presented later. As the northeastern sky is dark, the tail will come out well. However, the coma is small and a little disappointing as a naked-eye comet.
Copyright (C) 2002 Tsutomu Seki.