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• March 25
With bright moon light there will be no observation for a
while. I received a letter from Mr. Takao Namura of Yasu (old Chuzu), Shiga
Prefecture, with an enclosed article published in a Shiga newspaper about
Mr. Namura's work for mirror grinding. It introduces him as a modern-day
master mirror maker. He has been often written about in newspapers and
other media. His reputation as Japan's No.1 mirror maker is apparent.
My discovery of comets owes to Mr. Namura's lens. The 88mm f/7 objective
lens produced superb images and I was acutely aware how important sharp
focus was to find faint comets. I used this lens over a period from my
discovery of Comet Seki in 1961 to Comet Ikeya-Seki in 1965. All the comets
I found during this period were very faint and I would have missed them
all without this lens's exceptionally sharp focus. It is amazing that this
lens was Mr. Namura's first work. The one-meter mirror at Nakagawa Observatory,
Tokushima Prefecture, was also ground by Mr. Namura. I took my 88mm telescope
to the observing session held at the observatory to commemorate its opening.
I remember fondly that we enjoyed watching the stars together in the dome.
The day turned out into "Mr. Namura's day."
The newspaper article sent from him says that he is grinding a 20cm lens
for the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, an indication of the
professional astronomers' confidence in his work.
The photograph shows Mr. Bradfield, Australia's long-time
leading comet hunter, inspecting the 88mm comet seeker, which had discovered
Comet Ikeya-Seki. Inscribed on the telescope's tube are the discovery dates
of the three comets found by this telescope.
Mirror making in Japan seems to have started with Kaname
Nakamura in the early 19th century. The tradition of mirror making in Japan
has continued with the master figures such as Nakamura, then Kibe, followed
by Namura. Incidentally, around the time when Nakamura was active in Kyoto,
Masamitsu Yamazaki was studying in the U.S. He learned to grind mirrors
while he was in the U.S. and, after returning to Japan around 1920, published
a book "the Method of Making a Reflecting Telescope". He built
a comet seeker (reflecting telescope) and discovered "Comet Crommelin"
in October 1928. As he did not have students for mirror grinding, his method
of mirror making was not passed on to others. Interestingly, this 20cm
f/7 mirror was passed to the master mirror maker Mr. Jiro Hoshino of Kyushu
via Mr. Tatsuo Yamada of Nagoya. It was sent to Mr. Hoshino for refiguring
but I heard that that its accuracy of a parabolic surface was no better
than that of a spherical mirror. I don't have a mirror ground by Mr. Hoshino,
but at one time I thought of having one. He passed away several years ago,
however. I fondly remember the day Mr. Hoshino walked up to my roof-top
observatory (which also served as a laundry drying area!) and inspected
Mr. Bradfield inspecting the comet seeker
which discovered Comet Ikeya-Seki
• March 13
I often veer off to a beach on my way to Geisei Observatory
in the evening when weather is good. A large part of Route 55, which goes
from Kochi City to Muroto, runs along the coast. I went to Kotogahama Beach
near the observatory. There was a slight sign of spring in the air with
heat-shimmering rising from the beach sand caused by the evening sunlight.
The minor planet "Kotogahama" was named after this beach 20 years
ago. Rows of pines planted in 1935 were beautiful with green foliage then.
Sadly, they were affected by pine beetles and acid rain and are left in
an unimaginably poor condition with reddish-brown dead leaves. To make
the situation worse an outdoor theater and salt-water swimming pool have
been built on once-beautiful beaches, completely destroying the landscape
of white sand and green pine trees, which we used to marvel at. It is annoying
that they try to bring in urbane atmosphere into the beautiful countryside.
We are attracted to these places because they retain the beautiful landscape
of the countryside.
I shuddered when I heard that Okinohama Beach in the west,
which I think is the most beautiful in my beloved Tosa, was once to be
developed into a large amusement park by a city developer before the economic
bubble burst. It was eventually stopped by local residents' opposition,
but I wonder what an awful mess it would be now if it had been built. It
is a little over 3-hour drive from Kochi City, a little too far to go on
a short trip. I may visit it at the best time of the spring. Will the dream-like
beach and pine trees be still untouched?
Kotogahama Beach in early spring