Jump to top page

| Return |

May 2009

May 9
    The Japan Spaceguard Association Kansai Branch held the 33rd lecture presentation today. It was held at Sannomiya of Kobe City and I was invited as a speaker.
Among the present at the meeting were Dr. Hasegawa, president of OAA (Oriental Astronomical Association), and Dr. Yabushita, famous for his "Yabushita Theory" of cometary motion. I had the impression that there were more scholars of astronomy in the audience than members of the public . The topic of my lecturer was "the excitement of a new discovery" and I spoke as long as three hours in the presence of the enthusiastic audience.
    Comet Ikeya-Seki of 1965 was the main topic of my lecture, but I talked about not only the discovery itself, but also the personality of Mr.Ikeya, co-discoverer of the comet, revealing various episodes about him not widely known. For the first time, the music "Ikeya-Seki" on DVD was played during the lecture. It was composed by Cuban musician Jose Caleyo to mark Comet Ikeya-Seki's close encounter with the sun in October, 1965. The music was recorded last autumn at a concert held by the members of a band Mr. Caleyo had belonged to, but had not been played in public until that moment. Although this music was played to entertain the audience, the discovery of this comet is extremely important to me. Forty-three years have passed since the music was composed and finally it was performed in public for the first time today.
    The audience listened eagerly to my talk about the discoveries of minor planets, which had become the main work of Geisei's 60cm reflector. I recounted my experiences related to the naming of these minor planets, which brought tears to the eyes of the participants. It is wonderful that there is romance about the naming of minor planets. As usual, I did not fail to give a gift to the community where the meeting was held. I have decided to name one of the minor planets after "Rokkosan", Kobe's most famous mountain. This minor planet was, of course, discovered at Gesei.
    There were some "fans" of me who stayed on to the end of the function. Mr. Katsuhiko Mameda, a local person, was one of them. I have been in touch with him by correspondence for 40 years. He brought several books along for me to autograph. Among them were the first edition of "Seeking Unknown Stars" published in 1966 and "The Comet" by Mr. Shigeru Kanda, which he found easily at a nearby secondhand bookstore. There were photographs mysteriously inserted between pages. They were the photos of Comet Peltier and another great comet both shot by Mr. Shinichi Shimizu. What is this great comet, I wondered. There was also a business card found in the book. It could be the previous owner's card.
    When I was to leave, Mr. and Mrs. Michikazu Onishi, who devoted their time to making the meeting successful, gave me "Comets and Meteors" written by Shigeru Kanda. I have a fond memory about this book. In my 20s I spent countless days tackling orbital calculations using this book as a textbook. I forgot myself in orbital calculations of a large number of minor planets spending most of the day staring at formulae and logarithmic tables. Orbital calculations and comet search were all that mattered in my 20s. I shared this experience with the audience during the lecture.
    It was clear the following day, too. From the window of the express bus going from Sannomiya to Itami Airport, I saw Mt. Rokko towering in the north. In the past there must have been memorable sights of great comets hanging over the mountain ridges of Rokko. I left Kobe pondering, "soon this renowned mountain will travel in starry skies." During the flight to Kochi, I saw thunderclouds rising high in a clear sky, a hint of the arrival of summer. This towering clouds will be the symbol of hopes for the future.

Copyright (C) 2009 Tsutomu Seki.