David GRAY #226

Letters to the Editor

from David GRAY in CMO #226

@. . . . . Please forgive my lack of contributions these past months. I'm afraid the job I started last March has taken its toll in time and energy. As, I believe I mentioned, it is all nightshift and this rather hampered observing Mars. It being over or beyond the rooftops by my arriving home (c.5 a.m.). I have been trying to persevere, against the odds, with Jupiter, Saturn and Venus. But getting reporting done has been a problem: It would seem that the permanent night work regime has given me a form of ‘ejet-lag’ that has been very counterproductive; motivation has really been at a low point. As I had been doing nightshift-albeit on alternate weeks - since 1965 in my previous two jobs you might think that I would adapt quite readily! Especially as I often took advantage of the day shift weeks to arise early for observing with no real ill-effect. Although I have always been lax on the reporting side! Very difficult to put a finger on the problem as I seem to be pretty fit physically - though you would not think it most afternoons when I get out of Bed! But once I get to work - 4 1/2 mile bicycle ride - I feel great! What has exacerbated the problem was our next door neighbour's dog which howled almost continually when left alone each day he went to work. This cost me a lot of sleep (and potentially my job) till I finally persuaded him to leave the animal in a back room; which he still occasionally forgets (?) to do. I always have this hanging over me, so do not like to go to bed too late in the morning (when I prefer to process observations) in case of another ‘serenade’.
  Enclosed is a sheet of NP Cap edge estimations that were made using a set of carefully computed outlines in 5° latitude steps (1°steps for tilt). Up to ten fractional estimates being made during the night; i.e. 3/4 the way 80°to 85°=84°etc. and the mean taken. It was still in the experimental stage when the new job rather halted things! A sample comparator sheet also enclosed - as I say still undecided on the best layout for this. Will have to await a future apparition and the next will be rather unfavourable for me with Mars far to the south from here; but hope to get some pre-dawn observations. Perhaps there is still some hope for the current one as the planet has re-appeared in the early evening sky as seen from my observatory - an hour or so before going beyond the rooftops.
(8 Dec 1999)

David GRAY ( Durham, UK )