Alan HEATH #222

Letters to the Editor

from Alan HEATH in CMO #222

@ . . . . My final notes for Mars 1999 enclosed for what they are worth. Seeing has not been good and only major detail seen.
  Both Mars and Venus are now lost to me though I am looking forward to Jupiter and Saturn later in the year.
  Next week I go to Turkey for the Solar Eclipse and, hopefully, some Perseid meteors.
  I have received some excellent video images of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn from HIGA in Okinawa. I compliment him on his excellent work as often he shows more detail than I can see visually here.

  With Very Best Wishes to you all.

  PS. When I started visual astronomy in the early 1950s the coming of Halley's Comet seemed ages away and the 1999 Solar eclipse even further. Now the comet is some 14 years gone and the solar eclipse a mere two weeks away. Where do the years go?

(30 July 1999)

  HEATH's MARS 1999:
 Between 23 Feb 1999 and 23 July 1999, a total of 21 observations of the planet were made. Seeing generally was unsteady and never better than Antoniadi 3. The observation of 10 May was perhaps the best of the apparition. TELESCOPES used were the 10-in (250mm) Reflector and the Celestar-8. COLOUR FILTERS used were Red (W25) Blue (W44a) and Blue (W47).
  Most of the major features of the planet were seen but no really fine datail. The N. Pole Cap was well seen but often diffused. Of particular interest was Syrtis Major which sometimes was not visible with a Blue filter though regions around it were seen.


  S4     23 Feb   Diffuse
  S4      9 Apr   Diffuse 
  S4     13 Apr   Diffuse
  S4     24 Apr   Well seen  (Opposition)
  S4     27 Apr   Difficult
  S3-4   29 Apr   Well seen
  S3     10 May   Seen at best moments. Quite small
  S4     20 May   Seen at best moments
  S4     24 May   Seen at best moments
  S3-4   28 May   Well seen
  S4      4 June  Seen at best moments
  S4      9 June  Difficult. Best moments only
  S4     14 June  Seen
  S4     16 June  Difficult - Best moments only
  S4-3   18 June  Difficult
  S4     20 June  Seen - some difficult
  S5     25 June  Diffuse
  It is not clear if real polar haze caused the diffused appearance of the NPC or poor seeing. Probably the latter.

    (25cm Refl x175 and Celestar-8 x200 No Filter) Period: 23 Feb 1999 - 25 June 1999
  The following are excerpted from the original:

S. Sabaus/ S. Meridiani: 5(23Feb.), 5(28Apr.), 5.5(29Apr.), 6(14June), 6(16June), 6(18June) 
M. Acidalium           : 5(23Feb.), 5(27Apr.), 5  (28Apr.), 5(29Apr.), 5( 9June), 5(14June)
Syrtis Major           : 7(10May ), 7(16May ), 6  (14June), 7(16June), 7(18June), 7(20June) 

@ . . . . I thought you might like to have my report of the Total Eclipse of the Sun on 11 August 1999 as seen in Turkey.
  We were fortunate to have left Turkey a few days before the earthquake. We spent two days in Istanbul at the beginning of our visit but had to return there for our flight home.
  Very Best Wishes to you all. Sincerely
(25 Aug 1999)

  Alan's Report on his trip to Turkey:
  Paul Coleman and I travelled to Turkey with Explorers Tours to observe the total eclipse of the Sun on 11 August 1999.
  There was some anxiety as the night before, thunderstorms were forecast for the site but we awoke on the day to find a fine, clear and sunny day. The observing site is some 22 km east of SIVAS at Goydun which is approximately Longitude 37° 10'E and Latitude 39° 54'N and is a plateau surrounded by low hills. It was very spacious and easily accommodated the many viewers there. There was much amusement by the toilet facilities offered. The army had a strong presence as there is a risk from dissidents.
  We positioned ourselves by the only tree and took with us a large parasol loaned to us from our hotel, thus providing us with some shade both for ourselves and our equipment.
  Paul set up his 6-inch f/5 reflector and I used a Celestron C-90 Spotter Scope and a 260mm Zoom lens with a 2x converter. The two were mounted on a platform and synchronised. All was well until the time of totality when I lost the Sun in the C-90 and had to use the Zoom for photography. Measurements of Light Intensity and also Temperature were taken. Light remained normal until about 20 minutes before totality when it was obviously fading. The distant hills assumed pastel shades. The falling temperature added to the eerie feeling. We saw crescents under the tree which were enhanced when seen on a which towel placed on the ground. A bird flew into the tree, the crickets went silent and a cockerel could be heard crowing in the distance. Finally, and right on time, Totality arrived. Expressions of amazement could be heard from distant viewers. The eclipsed Sun presented a fine sight with 8x30 binoculars, especially prominences which shone like neon lights along both limbs. A particularly fine one was seen detached from the limb. The inner corona was more or less symmetrical as would be expected at this stage of the solar cycle but the outer corona was very 'spiky' some of which extended 3 or 4 solar diameters. All too quickly the 2 minutes and 13 seconds passed terminating in a fine diamond ring. The planet Venus was easily seen during totality and slowly the daylight returned.
  Obvious fading of light occurred some 20 minutes before totality and measurements using a Weston Master V exposure meter reading from which paper fell from 13 to 11 some 7 minutes before totality (no reading made after this time) and had returned to normal level about 20 minutes after totality. Temperature was 34°C before the eclipse and fell to 28.5°C at totality.
  We remained on site for a further hour taking photographs of the partial phase and also of the site. During our 4 hour bus trip back to Avanos near Nevsehir which was our base, we were fortunate to observe the GREEN FLASH as the Sun set behind distant hills at 7:30 pm local time.
  A truly spectacular eclipse in near perfect conditions.
  We had obviously made the right decision to visit Turkey as conditions in England were far less favourable. We were fortunate too to have left Turkey before the disastrous earthquake struck north-west Turkey on the 17th August with the loss of so many lives.

  Alan HEATH (Nottingham,UK)