After a long "hibernation", I awoke to find spring
at its peak. The temperature rose to nearly 30 degrees C today.
The three staff members, the "pillars" of new Geisei
Observatory, met today. They are Kenji Muraoka, specialist in orbit calculations,
Shigeo Shimomoto, CCD observer, and Tsutomu Seki hunting for comets with
"unbridled enthusiasm". They constitute the "Project Geisei"
team. In the dome under a beautiful starry sky, we marveled at CCD images
captured by the new altazimuth-mounted 70cm reflector. We photographed
C/2008 H1. A color CCD image of M51 in Ursa Major hanging high in the northern
sky was very impressive helped by the the 70cm reflector's 5000 mm focal
length. In spite of this long focal length, it tracks the target accurately.
Its "GoTo" system is very accurate for any astronomical object.
The remaining problems are tube currents, vignetting occurring where the
CCD is attached, the slow f-ratio (f/7.3), and others. All these will be
expected to be fixed by the manufacturer in a month or so.
After Mr. Muraoka left, Mr. Shimomoto and I continued to
observe while reminiscing about the old days. Mr. Shimomoto told me he
had inherited a memorable mechanical computer from Mr. Hasegawa, president
of Oriental Astronomical Association. I shared my experience with him of
calculating orbits using a mechanical computer like that for many, many
years. During that period I calculated the circular orbits of about 250
minor planets and also did calculations with Mr. Hasegawa to determine
the orbit of Comet Perrine, which was lost around 1955. It is funny to
picture that Mr. Hasegawa in Kobe and I in Kochi were madly calculating
the orbit generating a loud noise by turning the handle of a mechanical
computer, and yet it was so satisfactory to me. We would even managed to
work out Gauss's biquadratic equation to determine the distance to astronomical
After Mr. Shimomoto left for home, I stayed on in the dome
to conduct photographic patrol. At the same time I searched the eastern
sky in the approaching twilight using 15cm binoculars in a roll-off roof
observatory. It had been quite a while since my last search. I came across
the familiar glow of M31. I noticed there was a faint mist hanging low
in the sky.