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October 11, 2011
Every year when autumn arrives and October 11 comes, I suddenly
feel tense with excitement. October 11 was the day I discovered my first
comet. It has been a clear day today and I spent a whole day staring at
the blue sky in a dreamy state of mind.
Half a century or exactly 50 long years has passed since.
"A new star nobody in the world is aware of is shining now over my
head. Is my discovery real?" I spent the whole day as if dreaming,
not knowing if I should believe my discovery, and my mind was churning
with anxiety. At 4.50 in the predawn sky, when the field of my telescope
reached the vicinity of Beta Leonis, a fuzzy 7th magnitude object suddenly
crossed the field. The morning twilight began. "The magnitude is 7
and the diameter only 2'; there is no tail characteristic of the comet;
looks like a very small globular cluster."
I was using a tiny 88mm comet seeker at 15x. It would be
easy to overlook unless you have a razor-sharp state of mind as an observer.
Mr. Koichi Ike, living in Tosa city 15km west of Kochi city, was searching
Leo at the same time, using a 10cm reflector at 25x, which I had given
him, but he completely missed it. I owed my discovery to the capability
of the 88mm objective lens. This lens hand-figured by Mr. Takao Namura
of Shiga prefecture performed superbly. I have never encountered a lens
which exceeds the capability of this lens. More surprising is that this
memorable lens was Mr. Namura's first work. His hard work has recently
borne fruit and he has been chosen as a "Modern Master Craftsman".
For comet discoveries, the sharp star image is more important
than anything else. The pinpoint sharpness not only makes the minute image
of a comet detectable, but also sharpens the observer's mind and helps
to keep concentration. My first success is attributed to this small but
After my memorable discovery, this comet rapidly approached
the earth and it turned out to be the best occasion for me to show my skills
in orbital calculations that I had refined through continuous efforts.
My goal was to calculate by myself the orbit of the comet I had discovered.