• September 28
I have seen an image of SWAN (C/2005 P3) for the first time.
Mr. Hirohisa Sato, first discoverer of the comet, has sent me this image.
It is excellent and shows the diffuse appearance of the comet, which will
make the accurate measurements rather difficult.
On September 26, I went to the observatory. The sky cleared
up about the time this comet set below the horizon. Observation in this
part of the sky in summer is difficult because of the lingering clouds.
I have sent the results of today's measurements to the MPC after making
minor adjustments with reference to O-C.
I will try C/2005 R4 tomorrow, as it is cloudy today. The
coordinates on the console for the 60cm reflector show incorrect hours
in RA and, as a result, I often photograph areas as much as one hour off
the targets. The minute values are correct, though. It will be checked
by Goto Optical Company in October.
Yesterday I received a phone call from a Mr. Y for the first
time. He was a young comet hunter in his 20s when the Comet Bulletin was
launched 30 years ago. He is now in his 50s but says that occasionally
he still searches for a comet, being unable to entirely give up hope for
a discovery. We had a very pleasant, lively conversation for as long as
30 minutes. I found out that he had been searching an area of the sky quite
close to where Comet Denning-Fujikawa was discovered.
I also received a phone call from Mr. Mineo Nishikawa, who
is a long-time member of OAA living in Yokohama. As I had not heard from
him recently, I sent him a postcard worrying about his health. My concern
has turned out to be unnecessary. Although he is older than I, he told
me he had swum 1500 meters in an international triathlon event. He was
a top swimmer of Japan in the days when internationally competitive swimmers
like Furuhashi and Hashizume were at their peak. Incidentally, I swam 100-meter
breaststroke at the national Masters Games held at Kochi on September 18.
Few people know that Mr. Nishiyama was a member of the team
who calculated circular orbits of minor planets under the guidance of Dr.
Shigeru Kanda. Other members were Oishi, Mori, Tomita, Takeuchi and me.
I have a fond memory of visiting second-hand bookstores in Kanda, Tokyo,
looking for Gauss's 5-digit logarithmic table and Bauschinger's astronomical
tables. It was quite exciting to find the names of famous astronomers of
past years written in the reference books I purchased. In those days students
including those who later became well-known astronomers were living a life
of poverty and often forced to sell their reference books.
Around 1955 I was looking for Gauss's log table. Mr. Ichiro
Hasegawa advised me to try "Ikegami Bookstore" across the street
from Kochi University front gate. Following his advise I went to that bookstore
at Ozu, which are now long gone, and to my surprise found the log table
there. I meant to ask Mr. Hasegawa how he had known that bookstore had
the log table, but I forgot. I fondly remember meager and simple life in
those days when I had only a log table, notebooks, and pencils on an old
desk. All I used for night sky search were a small comet seeker, a sketchbook,
and a red flashlight, nothing more. I persevered the overwhelmingly cold
nights and courageously grappled with orbital calculations. I was in my
20s full of freshness, vitality, and energy.
• September 21
I went to the observatory yesterday evening. I intended to
repair damage caused by Typhoon No. 13 (Talim) and also make the first
evening observation after full moon. However, clouds prevented observation.
The remote control for the 60cm reflector has been unstable working on
and off since the last breakdown of the telescope. The problem seems to
be caused by a faulty connection in the control box which is fitted with
a switch, though I am not quite sure. It was working last night. It makes
me very anxious because trouble can start any time during observation.
It is as precarious as defusing an explosive. The fear of unexpected interruption
to guiding during an important observation burdened me heavily.
This morning I learned from a fax sent by Mr. Hirohisa Sato
of Fukushima Prefecture that our naming proposal to IAU was accepted and
that an asteroid (9964) discovered at Geisei was named after Dr. Hideyo
Noguchi. However, the name was spelt "Hideo" instead of "Hideyo."
Perhaps Japanese names are difficult to English-speaking people. I have
immediately sent a mail to Dr. Marsden requesting the correction.
Dr. Marsden might have mixed up Hideyo with Hideo, perhaps
being familiar with the name of Dr. Hideo Hirose (former director-general
of Tokyo Observatory). Dr. Hirose precedes Dr. Marsden in the field of
orbital calculation. Dr. Hirose told me that Mr. Ichiro Hasegawa and Mr.
Kiichiro Furukawa were once regarded identical mistakingly, both of whom
have been very active in orbital calculation. If you place their romanized
names side by side, you will see how this mistake occurred: Ichiro Hasegawa
At a casual glance they look alike, particularly because
Mr. Furukawa spelt his name Hurukawa. Both of them are also known world-wide
for their work in planetary orbits.
I have loved and respected Dr. Hideyo Noguchi since my elementary
school days. Dr. Noguchi established himself as a great scholar in medical
science in spite of tremendous hardships and I am very pleased that his
name shines in the starry sky eternally.
• September 19
Completing the swimming events, I was relieved and relaxed.
Strangely, however, I couldn't sleep well. Wondering if it was already
at dawn, I looked at the watch. The luminous hands showed it was 4.10 am.
Then, I suddenly sat up. That's right! It was exactly the moment I discovered
Comet Ikeya-Seki 40 years ago. At that moment my 9cm comet seeker froze
exactly at 15 degrees in altitude and in the direction of southeast. The
sky was clear and waning moon was shining.
The sky was clear tonight, too, but it was near full moon.
I walked up to the rooftop above the 3rd floor and found Hydra was lying
in the southeast sky over Mt. Hitsuzan with moonlight shining the ground
as if nothing had happened. The sound of the roaring sea in the wake of
a typhoon, which I had heard 40 years ago, was not heard tonight, of course.
I was told that America's Sky & Telescope magazine was
preparing an article to feature the 40th anniversary of Comet Ikeya-Seki's
discovery. David Levy, a famous American comet hunter, sent me a list of
questions via Mr. Eiji Kato in Australia. Through his translation I answered
many questions, giving my opinions and thoughts as the co-discoverer of
the comet. I told him about my feelings and secrets I had never told before.
I am looking forward to the January issue of the magazine.
• September 18
The annual National Masters Games swimming events were held
today at the indoor swimming pool at Kochi prefecture's Eastern Sports
Park. I competed last year and raced this year too. I swam 25 meter breaststroke
in 21 seconds and 100 meter breaststroke in 1 minute 52 seconds. Every
year it takes me longer to complete. An out-of-prefecture fellow swimmer
whom I had never met before asked me if I was still searching for comets.
I swim basically for fitness and to built strength to continue
to observe; a competition is just an addition. I can't remember how I started
to race, but 30 years have passed since my first participation. When I
was 40, I swam 25 meters in 19 seconds. This means I slowed down by 2 seconds.
Usually, I leisurely swim backstroke or breaststroke for a long distance.
While swimming, I am always thinking at the back of my mind how I can find
a comet? I always recall my teacher's stern word: "To accomplish your
aim, think about it all the time." Thinking about comets all the time
has become second nature to me.
• September 5
Mr. Kenji Muraoka came over with replacement parts to fix
my problem computer. Thanks to him, I am now able to make positional measurements
of comets again. I only have to wait for Geisei's 60cm reflector, still
out of action, to be repaired.
A few days ago, Mr. Hirohisa Sato, a member of OAA, discovered
a comet from SWAN images. It is a great achievement. It must be the fruits
of his passion for astronomy and continuing work on the comet. He is a
striking contrast to people who, learning of the LINEAR project, quit searching
and observing. In the past five years, a number of new comets have been
discovered visually by veteran comet hunters. This proves that continuing
efforts bring about a success.
I went to the outdoor swimming pool at Haruno in the city,
while Typhoon No. 14 (Nabi) was moving closer. I swam 500 meters by breaststroke
and 200 meters by backstroke. Rain was beating hard the surface of the
rather cold water. During the morning I went to the observatory and covered
the 60cm reflector with a sheet of tarpaulin because there could be a water
leak in case the dome shutter was not tightly closed. The typhoon may leave
this area around September 7. Once it has cleared up, I will search the
early autumn sky to my heart's content. At nightfall, rain has become much