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|• March 25
This is a view from the observatory in the evening. Usually the cherry trees at Geisei start to bloom early, but this year the flowers are a little less than halfway to full blooming. The setting sun seen through the branches of the cherry trees was impressive. The night sky hazed by dust drifting from dust storms in China was lit up like a night of full moon by long lines of red lanterns under the cherry trees. On top of that, blazing flood lights for a night baseball game made it worse. I attempted C/2002 Y1, C/2002 X5, and C/2003 E1, but the lights had not been turned off until 21:00, resulting in fruitless observation. Around 23.00 all the lighting for horticultural farms was turned on. The dark sky was preserved only for an hour.
I am going to Nakagawa in Tokushima Prefecture tomorrow (March 27) for a study tour with Mr. Okamura, a staff member of the observatory. On our way home we will drive along the southern seashores and stay at the public holiday accommodation Mitokoso Hotel overnight. As you know Mikotoso has its own observatory. A long time ago when I stayed there, I often wondered what the sky would be like at this magnificent place looking out on the sea. The Pacific Ocean in March is particularly beautiful.
The evening sky viewed from Geisei Observatory
|• March 20
Cherry blossoms have already begun to bloom in earnest at Kochi Park where Kochi Castle stands and also at Mt. Godaisan, famous for cherry blossoms. One more week, they will be in full bloom. Cherry trees at Geisei flower early and the village officials are preparing for the arrival of the flower-viewing public. The are hanging numerous lanterns down at the car park at the foot of the observatory's hill. During daytime it is quite warm and a little exercise makes you perspire. I sense summer just around the corner.
Mountain cherry blossoms at Mt.Godaisan
|• March 18
It's full moon tonight. When I walked to Kagamigawa River which runs just south of my home, I found the huge moon rising from the foot of Mt. Hitsuzan in the east.
I remember that as a child I was often astonished at the sight of an enormous moon in the eastern sky over the town. I know it is just an illusion, but still the moon low over the town is extraordinarily large.
Many geese are still seen on the water in moonlight like floating silhouettes. They will soon head for the Siberian skies.
The full moon over Kagamigawa River
|• March 17
I visited a cemetery at Mt.Koishikiyama in the south of Kochi City. Cherry blossoms in the mountains around here bloom earlier than other places every year. As expected I found some flowers already halfway to full bloom. Beyond the big cherry trees Mt.Kaigamori are seen in the distance. It is part of the Washio Mountains. It was a stage for observation of C/1962 (Comet Seki-Lines), which approached the sun at a distance of 0.03 AU back on April 1, 1962. The comet's magnitude was 6.7. In spite of its close proximity to the sun, it was shining as a naked-eye comet after perihelion in the evening sky. In those days I calculated comets' orbits by myself. In the US Dr.Cunningham was well-known for orbit calculations. Dr. Marsden's name had not been heard at that time.
Mt.Kaigamori seen from Mt.Koishikiyama
March 17, 2003
|• March 11, 2003
Cold winds are blowing as if winter had returned. While I was driving to the observatory yesterday evening, I looked north toward the mountains. I saw snow-covered ridges of Shiraga and Miune Mountains shining brightly in the distance. The deep blue sky extends over the mountains. However, seeing was poor last night. The stars were dancing around indifferently. Faint comets like C/2003 A2 at 19-20 magnitude could not be captured on film. In spite of this I persevered in the freezing dome for 6 hours.
C/2002 Y1 was supposed to be visible at 7-8 magnitude, but dawn arrived with the comet still behind trees in the northeast. However, it was so transparent last night that you could see 5 times more stars than usual.
In the morning on my way home from the observatory, I took a photograph of early flowering cherry blossoms near Kochi Airport. Did I mistake peach flowers for cherry blossoms? I don't think so. Just a few days ago I saw Yushima Shrine's white plum blossoms in Tokyo, but Tosa (this region) must be much warmer. The season for apricot's flowering is long gone. Flowering occurs one month earlier around here because it is only 300 meters to the beach.
Cherry blossoms near Kochi Airport
• March 9, 2003
White plum blossoms at Yushima Shrine
|• March 8, 2003
As soon as the English version of my website was launched, many congratulatory messages have arrived by email from overseas. Among those are a Spanish observer with MPC Code Number 170 and the famous American comet discoverer David Levy, to my surprise. The power of the Internet has really impressed me. A message from David Levy will be provided in the Notice Board shortly.
Copyright (C) 2003 Tsutomu Seki.